Hatred does not describe what I feel about maths, but when I see numbers, all reasoning fails. It’s my worst nightmare, the horror movie I’d never watch, and the monster in my closet that just won’t go away. Needless to say, my parents gave it their all. There were tutors, there were elder brothers (never ended well), and there was also a time they spread their hands and called out to God in heaven, scared of what my board results would entail.
I thought I was suffering because I could not deal with numbers. But, imagine the plight of the teacher who had to teach Maths to a bunch of kids who were least interested in it.
Throughout the course of 13 years of school, starting from grade one, my maths teachers have tried to make me see sense in numbers. I know you could not put your head around how I arrived at my solutions, trust me neither do I. And I am sorry that even though you tried your damndest best, things never could get through to the other end of my head. If it’s any consolation, you did your best. I’m just not wired for numbers, I know it for sure now.
I know you caught me doing anything but focus in your class, wish I’d done better.
I was the first one who was called every single day to recite tables and I did save face till we were doing tables of 2. But then as the numbers went up, I realised that reciting from the beginning and counting on my fingers was way too long a time to take, so I chose to not answer and stand outside the class with other delinquents.
And as the classes went up, the same cycle was repeated for integers, algebra, numerical equations, and lastly trigonometry. It’s all on me, not you.
I am also sorry for various unfortunate events you had to go through, just because we were too stupid to pass your subject.
I have heard of so many unfortunate things people have done to you. I’ve heard boys talking about how they punctured your car tires, left pointed things on your chair, and left scalding remarks for you on small chits of paper near your locker – the strain of numbers created some very deep friendships because if names came up, there’d be hell to pay.
Personally, I have stealthily read library issued books while you painstakingly explained theorems. When caught, I’ve had my book confiscated and parents called. There have also been times when you’ve seen what I’ve been up to and left me undisturbed. I am guessing it was because you had given up the effort. I shamefacedly accept my bad. But the subject had gone way beyond what I could decipher, and just like you, I too had given up on me.
I made some really great friends in school, all united under the strain that numbers brought with it.
There were a lot of conversations that revolved around how we’d completely denounce the subject once we’re out. But like everybody else looking at a time gone by, I too think that things could have been a little better had I worked with you towards learning what I deemed so difficult.
There has to be no child whose wish fulfillment fantasies were devoid of being the best in class. I built grand castles in the air where I scored the best in class, I would make my very own answer sheets and mark myself fabulously, and do all the things that won’t be graced on me by reality. I hope you see that I always wished to do well. You spent every PTM telling my parents how it was only when it came to maths that you would call me hopeless, and I wish I could change that. What I found annoying then are things I now wish I had co-operated with.
We hated you for being tough on us, then. But we now realise, it only prepared us to face life at its worst. You taught us to go on, despite being knocked down.
I distanced myself and feared the subject so very much that I denounced everything that would involve me adding/subtracting/dividing/multiplying any given numeric value. It has not yielded good results. I depend completely on vegetable vendors to make calculations, I have even paid more than my share while moving in and out of houses, too baffled by the myriad calculations I’d be ‘subjected’ to. I think of you every time basic mental maths has me diving for the calculator in my cell phone and think, if only I’d maybe paid a little more attention, things would have been a lot easier in life.
It’s a little late, but if it so happens that we decide to meet over coffee, let numbers be our point of discussion.