Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Right from 1st standard, I was always awe-stuck with my brother making speeches on Independence Day and other competitions in schools. So when I got promoted to sixth standard (the cut-off for a student to be allowed in these competitions), I readily gave my name when it was called for. The first assignment was to speak on Independence Day about Lal Bahadur Sastriji. With active assistance of my father and the Panasonic two-in-one we had at our home, I practiced the speech over and again. Three days before the event, Dcuna Madam who was in charge of the culturals decided that all the participants will wear a dhoti and make the speech. I never took it seriously and continued with preparing for my speech. My father had taught me how to keep the head at 90 degrees and talk. How to bow to the Judges, the principal, etc and how to maintain eye contact with the audience
The D-day came and all the “freedom fighters” were made to wear dhoti and come to the stage. First it was “Gandhiji”, next “Panditji” followed by “Patelji” and then came my turn “Sastriji”. I stood up to see nearly 900 students in front of me. I immediately realized that public speaking was more than reproducing a prepared speech. All the lessons of my father on the etiquettes of public speaking vaporized from my mind. I was shivering, mumbling the speech when the audience burst out laughing. A wardrobe malfunction had occurred and my dhothi lay on the floor. Obviously, the tension within my body had resulted in this scandalous wardrobe malfunction. Thankfully, I had worn inside the customary half-white pant for Saturday class and any further embarrassment was prevented. I could see my brother feeling for me but I did not want to give up speaking. Despite all the jeers, I continued speaking. To my surprise fear had evaporated and I was able to speak freely. Though I did not win any prize, I did get a special mention from the principal for courageously standing on to speak despite the mishap.
Thankfully, there was no moral police around those days or else a campaign would have lodged against me for intentional wardrobe malfunction, that too in a boy’s school.