My Defining Moment

Recently, while training at a Leadership course, I was asked by Uttara, the trainer. What is your defining moment? With a little thought, I recollected one incident that happened when I was in 8th Standard and I narrated it to the class there. Again, after some months, at another Business Training Workshop, a similar type of exercise was given by Victor, the trainer there. Here also, I recollected the same incident, even though at that moment I did not realize that this is what I had recollected at earlier such occasion also.

With Victor’s help I could realize that this particular incident had profound impact on my life and the way I look at myself and my circumstances.

The incident goes like this :

I am from Mandvi – Kutch a very small port town on the coastline of Arabian Sea. I have studied there upto 12th standard, in Gujarati medium. During our first 7 years of school, I and my two elder brothers went to Khalfanbhai Damani Prathmik Shala. This is a very very primitive school, the kind of government schools that you find in small villages in towns, with bare minimum staff and infrastructure.In that school, all my classmates were the nearby Muslim and Kharva community boys and few girls. I always stood first in the class. And so had been with my two elder brothers, when they were in primary standards (i.e. upto 7th standard). When they left Khalfan school and went to G T High School. G T High School has four divisions for 8th, 9th and 10th and students from all the primary schools of Mandvi converge to either G T High School or another less popular Ramkrishna High School. When both my brothers got into G T High School, their first rank slipped to one of the last ranks, as they struggled to pass.

They warned me that GT was much tough and once I am out of Khalfan, my happy and glorious days will be over. I had accepted this fate and was ready to face the reality when I reached 8th standard and got admitted to GT High School. I was in B division of 8th Standard, out of four A, B, C and D divisions.

I had accepted my being an average student and had adapted to that fact. After Diwali, one internal test was taken. Each paper was of 100 marks. We wrote papers and then the regular classed resumed. In those days, after the internal examination, the teacher would check answer sheets and then declare the results in the class by showing the papers to students. Before showing the papers, he would come and declare the highest marks. Mohammadali Saheb was our Science teacher. He taught Science in all four divisions of 8th Standard. After the examination, one day in the second period, he was chatting with the front bench bright students. Those students asked him how many highest marks were obtained by a student in Science and who the student was. Mohammadali Saheb was very glad to say that Vinesh Tataria of our class 8th B had 99 out of 100, highest in all the four divisions. As he announced this, all students clapped for Vinesh, who was sitting on the first bench. In fact, all had expected this, because G T High School has one primary section where there is one division for each standard and Vinesh had stood first in 5th to 7th standards in the primary section, before coming to 8th standard. So, he was just repeating his brilliant spell.

During talks with Vinesh, Mohammadali Saheb told him “You have written a very good paper. I could not deduct any marks any where. Your roll number is 37, right?”.

At that moment, Vinesh said, “No Sir, my roll number is 41 not 37.”.
“Then who is Roll No. 37?”, the sir asked.

The whole class became silent. Mohammadali Saheb repeated, “Who is roll number 37?”.

I was sitting on the last bench. I stood up and said “I am roll number 37.”
“Is your roll number 37? What is your name?”

I said “I am Sanjay Shah”.

Mohammadali Saheb said “Oh, I see. You have written an excellent paper of Science and you have got 99 out of 100, which is highest among all the four divisions…”.

I was amazed. Pleasantly surprised… I felt out of this world. Words may not be able to describe that feeling. It was a rediscovery of myself. I had accepted myself as an under dog and here I was, rising again from my ashes….!

After that, the result for all other subjects started coming in. I got highest marks in all the subjects in all the four divisions, and totalled 89%. It was a record of its sort…!

This was a defining moment in my life. It gave my confidence a rebirth….!