“ Please Mama, don’t send me to this school,” pleaded Zachariah.
“ Zach, honey, I understand how you feel, but Grandma’s school is only till class three. You’ve passed third, remember ? ” said his mother patiently.
It had been very difficult for Zachariah to settle into the new school, and the repercussions were felt at home too. Zach was dyslexic and found it hard to keep up with the rest of the class. The impatience of teachers and sniggers of classmates didn’t help either. But a few months later Zach stopped complaining, much to the relief of his parents and ‘Gramma.’
“ Aw….Mrs Sethi’s class,” thought Zach, as he took out his English Reader. Mrs Sethi, didn’t seem to understand Zach’s problem and would constantly intone, “ Concentrate Zach, concentrate….you’re never going to learn if you don’t c-o-n-c-e-n-t-r-a-t-e.”
“ No problem I have my box. I didn’t have to lug my box to Gramma’s school,” thought Zach. Then he got into his box, just as Mrs Sethi entered the class.
Zach felt secure inside his box. He found it a bit dark but that didn’t bother him much. It was better than trying to concentrate all the time.
“ I become stupid when I concentrate,” Zach mused, “ why can’t people understand that ? Mrs Sethi thinks I’ll become clever if I improve my concentration. But I won’t. I don’t understand a word I read when I get all strained and tensed up. Concentrating makes the words jump up and down. It makes me stupid.”
“ Zachariah,” Mrs Sethi’s voice pierced his reverie. Zach jumped out of the box, startling the teacher and the students.
“ Yes ma’am,” he almost shouted.
“ Did you find the ‘learning tips’ we discussed helpful ?”
“ Yes, ma’am, very helpful. I’ll follow your advice,” Zach said nodding his head like Noddy, “I’ll try not to disappoint you,” he added, wondering what she had discussed.
“ Good,” she smiled, leaving Zach to go back into his box.
“ How many minutes to go,” he wondered. He began to count… “ One…two…three…” …Zach was eagerly waiting for the next two classes – Art and PT ( Physical Training ). He enjoyed co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. He liked theatre workshops and Yoga… “ five…six….Mrs Singh never tells me to concentrate when I draw. She’s nicer than Mrs Sethi, and prettier too…Mr Basil is cool…he really helps me with my cricket and tennis. Miss Dolly’s drama class is such fun….ten….eleven…twelve..” The bell rang.
“ Whoopee,” shouted Zach as he sprang out of his box, startling Mrs Sethi once again.
“ Zachariah, don’t you dare do that again,” she warned him.
The few teachers who understood Zach, went on to become his mentors and helped him to develop his confidence. ( It was difficult for Zach to not get into the box whenever he wanted to ) They taught him that if he wanted to control his life, he would have to control his fears, his thinking. He learned to be confident about being himself. They told him to think, speak and act as he wished to be ; and then he would be that which he wished to be. He learned to compete with himself. Learning from his mistakes rather than running from them. He built himself into a concentrated dynamo of energy. He began to explore and discover new truths and their value to him. His creative imagination soared and his thoughts and emotions found expression on canvas. The fear of failure often arose but he never allowed it to settle in. It remained a fleeting thought that didn’t take hold. It couldn’t dominate his competitive spirit.
Zachariah became a movie star, recognized and acclaimed for his intense performances. So when he decided to foray into the sphere of production and direction, there were great expectations from him.
Zach was on tenterhooks when he arrived for the premier of his first directorial venture.
No one was disappointed. The audiences loved it, the critics praised it and Zach himself was more than satisfied with it. ‘ Stars on Earth’ was the story of a nine-year old boy’s trials and his indomitable spirit as he dealt with dyslexia. The movie swept the box-office and garnered all the major film awards that year.
Zach had sprung yet another surprise.
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