My Greatest Teenage Hero

“Please underline all the sections before you submit your book” declared Ms.Bhuvanesvari, my mathematics teacher. I never had the habit of carrying a pencil and scale so I immediately dug deep into my school bag, pretending as if I were searching for it. No scale and pencil. I turned to Nitin my new deskmate (we had moved to 12th grade a week before this happened). “yaar, can i borrow your pencil and…” even before I could complete my sentence nitin lunged forward  and swayed away with the pencil and scale, and stared down with emphatic  “NOOOOO”. It came as a slap on my face. I was like “Yaar, it’s not a toffee I won’t eat it. He said “NO you will break it”, I was like @#!$%@$#$%@$& .eat it..saala.

The ruthless rejection hit me, I felt I made a huge mistake by exchanging seat with fellow classmate to sit next to him. Nitin was a topper in the 11th grade, smart, intelligent, tactful, popular among teachers and students alike. I thought it was master stroke to be his deskmate, just imagine a toppers deskmate…WOW!!! I was really thrilled and kicked about the visibility I would get among my mates and teachers but after this, felt smashed. Those were days when I was meek and caved in the slightest amount of external pressure. Now I was stuck with this moron, I sulked, I rued, I was disgusted.

As weeks went by our rapport did improve but nothing ground breaking and yeah he still wouldn’t allow me to touch his pencil and scale. I could sense that somewhere deep inside his heart he knew he was far superior than rest of our classmates (esp the boys). I must acknowledge his assessment was absolutely right but this took him to a pedestal where there was no challenger to his clout, he was powerful, guys were a no match to him ( to be precise at academics and social antics) He commanded a celebrity like status among teachers, it seemed like he lived life his way and in his world duds like me had no place…So why is he my hero?

People who know him would most likely categorize him under a genius or eccentric mad man, it was the latter in my books. However  Nitin is not all about a wild child. He had the touch of godliness in him. His ways, his craft, his mastery all inspired me . If I were Ekalavya, he was my Dronacharya, I sought immense amounts of gyaan and learnings from him. Yes, without his knowledge and I learnt it the hard way, and all this happened alongside some of the most horrific experiences. He constantly taunted, ridiculed, dodged, yelled, he even pushed me to be part of his crazy mocking sessions ( I pity Seema, Jayashree, Krithika and others who were his chief victims ), then again end of the day his aura and energy made up for all his mortal deficiencies. I surely wasn’t comfortable being his neighbor but eventually it was worth the hassle.

I thought I could share couple of events attached to my hero. Nitin as always scored more than me in all subjects. But for some strange reason he always scored a 10 on 15 and I scored 9.5 in English essay. I assumed my teacher was biased until once I secretly looked into his English test paper. As I read through the essay, I was blown away by the content *Mind Blowing*. His clarity of thought, structure, economy of words, phrases, examples were way too good for a 12th grader.I thought he deserved much more. From that day onward I used to go through most of his test papers. I was in total awe of his written skills. I wanted to write like him, score like him, emulate him. Doing that wasn’t an easy task. I neither had the skill nor the talent but I sought this silent inspiration from him, the urge to match him, the urge to beat him (It was impossible but I wanted to try). I could never match him forget about beating him, not even once. However, in the quest to to dethrone him, I surprised myself by raising my standards. As a matter of fact I stood 4th in my group and fell short of his mark by 4%. My hero won, he would have won in any case. I was left stranded, tantalizingly close from picking up a proficiency award. However, I am satisfied I could push myself beyond my abilities.

Nitin had a steady impact throughout the 12th grade but the defining moment was the Y2K seminar, which he delivered towards the end of the year. If I were to pick my life changing moments this would be among my top 5. I knew he could speak well but on that day for good 45 minutes he left all of us spell bound. It was pure listeners delight the command over the subject, humor, examples, the build up. It was ummmmmmmm..I don’t have enough words to explain that emotion. I was speechless. I remember looking around the classroom and you could see it in everyone’s face that something special was going on in front of our eyes. It is perhaps the best ever presentations I have sat through till date and I am sure I would never see anything better than that in future. Nitin was just 17 then and he had enough fire power to take on fully bred professionals. As he finished his exhibition, kids applauded, teacher praised, bell rang, we went home but his sorcery on stage left a deep impact on my sub-conscious mind. It gave me the much needed hope, for a dud like me it was an eye opener to look into myself and discover the spark. Nitin triggered the biggest ever chain reaction in my mind, I wanted to be like him, I wanted to learn the wizardry, I wanted to cast my spell, win accolades, I wanted to be appreciated by classmates, teachers and perhaps become an inspiration to duds like me. Luckily it worked partially in long term. Thanks to Nitin.

Nitin unfortunately would never understand his contribution to my life, he still thinks I am mocking him but only I and I alone know the life altering effect he had on me. I wouldn’t have been half as confident as I am today if he were not my deskmate. Despite few minor disappointments Nitin Rajkumar is my greatest Teenage Hero.