My science story


This dates back to the 80’s when we were in school in a small town in Tamil Nadu, Neyveli. Education then was very different from what it is now. Today kids are taken to icecream parlours to understand tastes, so they taste sweet, sour, bitter etc etc and get to learn. Learning is therefore a fun based activity now. Back then the fact that amma and appa managed to send their 4 kids to a private English medium school was a big thing in itself, forget the activity based learning.

We took pride that we never took tutions. Our tutor was at home. Armed with a B.S.C in Math,Physics , amma took a keen interest in all  that was in our books.

I remember.Amma used to bring a bowl from the kitchen, hold it high and then loudly say :This is concave . She would pull another and show us what convex was.

And then the NCERT books had some questions starred at the end of each chapter. Those were not touched by the teachers. Amma , after sending us off to school would sit and solve those questions. Apparently the starred questions were tougher than the usual ones.

I remember once amma took out a big chart paper and divided it into squares to arrive at an answer- probably an answer to one of the starred questions

And then when we were 10, we were told that we would have inspection officers at school.So we were asked to bring new books, decorate our classes, get some simple practical things done around science. Amma got us balls of varying sizes- signifying the sun , moon and the earth- we were demonstrating the solar system.

The story goes that when amma was at hospital delivering us, the twins, she left the elder kids(akka and anna) with her mom. Akka’s grades dropped significantly. So Amma got her elder daughter writing , tutoring her right at the maternity bed- what with two new born twins to be fed and taken care of.

Amma was this towering personality- she stayed a house wife all her life. But with her impeccable English , she was often asked by shop keepers and office goers in Neyveli -where she worked.

Amma does it to this day too. Today she is 69. She hums a devotional song, but if you went closer, you would notice her pull her spectacles and solve the sudoku in the morning newspaper. This has become a daily ritual.

My elder sister has been lucky. Her daughter spends her after school hours in amma’s company.So I have often seen amma prepare questions for her, copy notes for her first grand daughter.

Amma could have been anything – from a banker to a teacher . Back then the competition too was less. But amma chose to stay at home and tutor us .

Last evening, my 3 year old asked me to play cricket. As the bright red ball rotated , I got reminded of the solar system and the balls we took to school.

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