Their Gifts


One bright Saturday afternoon in May, Hans leans over his desk, neck craned, eyes blinking and takes note of everything his teacher Ms Wilson says. Besides him friend Lora and Doug are staring straight, vacant eyes. Liz on the other side sits silent. Dan is nodding his head as if he understands everything that Ms Wilson says. In the middle of the lecture, Ms.Wilson stops at Hans’s desk, smiles. “ Only take note of the important points.”

Hans stares back. In his mind this is funny, in English everything is random. In the preparatory class sometimes his teacher would say, “Here are the rules about preposition,” and then,three minutes later, “But remember when it comes to writing there are no rules!”

The contradictions are slowly driving him crazy. He has to prepare for the fill-in the blank of the critical reading section, has to memorize the vocabulary list, make flash cards.Then Ms. Wilson walks over to the chalk board and writes, “Follow the grammar questions.”

Hans sits with his mother at the dining table and vocabulary swims in his brain, letter jumping in and out of line.

“What are you thinking.”his mother says. “Be in the moment.”

“I am too tired.”
“Why?” She lays the spoon on her plate. “ Hans, You are not doing anything wrong, wrong things or wrong crowd of friends? She asks pushing her loose curls out of her eyes.

Hans laughs.

“Be respectful!Do you know that you have to score real good to get into a good university?”

His father who was listing to the whole conversation in the living room appears at the dining table. He pulls a chair and joins them. “I studied hard, got scholarship to go to Standford. It is not that easy.” He takes a spoon full of lentil soup. “ So concentrate on your studies.So how is your practice classes going?” he takes a gulp of water from his glass.

Hans finishes his vegetables and raises his head. “ Ms Wilson is good in explaining everything. I am thinking , may be I should take a gap year first before going to college.”

His mother chokes on her food. “ Gap year! From studying?” she asks.

“I heard some of my friends take time off, like travel, or think, whatever.. He regrets of saying wrong words although he meant something different. He is waiting for his father to shout at him. But instead his face brightens. He laughs hard. “Your whole life is a vacation. You have not done anything like the other kids in your school. We have worked hard our whole life to provide you all the comfort,best education,tennis lessons, violin classes, boy scout..” His father pushes the chair and leaves.

Hans sits on his chair. He likes science, good in literature, history but he is the average student. His report card always stays on B-plus. He finishes his dinner and retreats to his room. The room has baby blue walls and the walls have pictures of him playing violon, or tennis.His desk is full with books and binders, papers tumbled, school pictures. His mother knocks at the door and walks in. “ Hans, what is going on?” She arranges herself on a chair, her knees towards the bed.

“ You are special kid.” She says carefully. “ If you try, you can do much better. You have all the talents in yourshelf.Confidence is very important!” her voice is now firm and emphatic.

“What do you mean? I am just an average student.” he asks.

“ It is fine but if you work hard, you can get good scores too! Now go to bed early and early morning you can practice for your test.” She pushes the chair back to leave.

In the following week, on saturday, Hans was the first one in the class. He approaches Ms Wilson’s desk. “Excuse me. Ms Wilson,” he says. “ I would like to know the tricks to master the SAT score.

“Tricks?” she puts down her pen and looks up, blinking behind her glasses. “ Well, you have to know all your stuff or at least try to memorize them or have a sense for it.”


She leans forward in her chair. “ Today after the class I will look at your practice answer shit and after that I will be able tell you how to proceed further.”

“Thank You.” Hans says.

He is happy to see his friend Meg next to him in the class.She has an oversize pink shirt and big hoop earring. She is always very confident. Hans decides to ask her on some tricks to improve his test score. “Sure, I will tell you if you come with me to our temple.”



Hans meets his friend at her temple.He removes his shoes, socks and sits besides Meg and watches as she places her palms on her knees and closes her eyes.

“There is nothing but this moment,”the guru said. “We will close your eyes and feel the universal love move through us. Let go of all your worldly thoughts, just observe them coming and crashing in your head one after another.”

Hans squeezes his eyes shut. The rug they sit on is old but has beautiful oriental patterns all over it. Hans listens to the silence. All his anxious thoughts on different subjects appear one after another in a long line, sometimes they even cut the line and appear on the front.He oserves them in his mind’s eyes. After twenty minutes he hears Namaste. He opens his eyes. The people bow and stand.

“What do you think?” Meg asks him as they walk into the open air.

“ Very relaxing! The thoughts of scoring high is still there, but it is not that stressful anymore.” he glances at Meg. “Thank you for the tip.”



A Past

Fifteen Credits     If you’re in school, are you enjoying your classes? If you’re out of school, what do you miss about it — or are you glad those days are over?

“Your past is always your past. Even if you forget it, it remembers you.”    ― Sarah Dessen

Mom! I am ready.’ Clover was standing close to the kitchen dressed in a white shirt and a plain light blue jumper and holding a pink back pack. Her wavy hair was pulled back from her face with a pretty blue ribbon. She was almost five and just started the school. She was eager to go to the school because the beautiful  pictures of the coloring books, the music class and the play ground full of kids floated in her thought. She did not want to make any late, not even a second.Most of the fun of pre-school and kindergarten came to an end and she started the next step .

Clover almost made her way to the head of the circular stone stairs when she heard ‘Clover, come to the dining room. I want to ask you the time-table before you leave for school.‘ Said her mother as she was preparing the breakfast in the kitchen. Clover walked slowly, just like a snail. She did not like the time-table and she could not remember if nine times five is forty-five or fifty-five. O’ well, it is better to memorize now before the math teacher asks her in front of the whole class, clover murmurs. She enjoyed all the science classes, the reading class, her favorite history class but not the math class or the math teacher. Clover’s father was very worried during her middle school so every year for three years at a stretch, he tried hiring different brilliant math students from the university to teach Clover the math. First teacher was a student of Statistic and he left after three moths of tutoring. His explanation was that Clover had no interest in math. The same answer was from the other two teachers. The last math teacher was a brilliant student but he made a slight mistake while teaching the math.

It was a pretty Saturday evening in December just the day after Clover’s Birthday. Clover  sat on the beige color sofa and was enjoying the interesting story books; presents from her grandmother when she heard the knock on the door. There at the front porch the tuition teacher was standing with a  big smile eager to start his evening.

‘ Are you ready for a new chapter of the math book? I am excited.’ He said without waiting for a reply.

‘Sure’. Clover answered as she swiped her bangs to one side, left the story books on the end table and walked into the study with the teacher. During the practice Clover tried but could not solve a fraction question in math.The math teacher raised his voice out of frustration which she did not appreciate at all. Clover was not a naughty child but her dislike for math was unbearable. She leaned forward, opened her ink pen and poured the ink in the delicious Darjeeling tea that her mother just brought for the teacher. Both sat there quietly, looking at each other for a few moments ,stood up from the chairs at the same time and apologized to each other.The tutor left. Later she wrote a letter to the math tutor for her mistake and apologized again. That was Clover’s adventure in math in the early part of the middle school.

After the middle school Clover started to concentrate and enjoy more of the classes. The competitive spirit started to overflow in her . Clover wanted to be first in her classes. The thirst for learning new things grew day by day. Clover not only enjoyed  the Psychology labs but also enjoyed the wonderful time with her few close friends; the secrets and the giggles, a few field trips. ‘Clover! It is almost midnight. Go to bed. You can finish that in early morning.’ Her dad said from the hall as he closed the door of his study. It was the day before Clover’s final exam in the college. But she could not sleep. She sat cross-legged on the deep cushion with the book and tried to memorize some last minute topics. Clover was determined to get the first place in her final exam.  After college Clover missed more of the spirit of competition but her dad used to say that,’ Real lessons in life starts once the college is over.’
Yes school was lots of fun.

We can not hold the past, we have to let it go. It is more fun to move forward and learn new things that life presents to us in different ways.