About three decades ago, I was summoned by the new principal of my daughter’s school. I had to exchange my morning shift with my obliging colleague and rush off to meet the principal. What the principal went on to say was absolutely hilarious, but I had to keep a straight face and pretend that it was all serious business.
My daughter was in her final year of school and she would soon need a conduct certificate from the head of the institution for college admissions. She had been studying in the same school for 14 years. Never had I received such a summons before. The staff knew her well, understood her nature and loved her too.
I had already been informed by my daughter on why the principal had summoned me. During the previous week, the moral science teacher had asked her students to write an essay entitled ‘What do I believe in?’. And my daughter happened to have scored the highest marks in the class. When the teacher was going to the classroom carrying the answer sheets, the principal asked the teacher to leave the best essay with her.
The principal was middle-aged and her ideas about God and religion were so rigid and different from the ideas of the present generation. She had read the essay and disapproved of whatever was written by my daughter. She reprimanded my daughter and asked her to make note of all the corrections. Maya my daughter was then ordered to rewrite the essay. And as Maya left the principal’s room, with a glint in her eye, she told the principal that she would rewrite the essay, but that she had to change the title of the essay from ‘What do I believe in?’ to ‘What my principal believes in’.
On hearing this remark the principal was hopping mad, scolded Maya and called her a cheeky spoilt brat. As this was Maya’s first experience with the principal, my daughter was wondering why she had reacted that way. The principal told her that unless her parents came and apologised for her behaviour, she would not be allowed to enter the classroom. I was summoned to apologise for my daughter’s behaviour.
I was wondering what was so wrong with my daughter’s reply. I sat in front of the principal listening to her complaint with a big laugh in my heart, and an apologetic look on my face. Even though Maya died in an accident a few years back, I am very sure that she would be laughing still.