I was (one of the) topper(s) in my sweet little school, until 4th standard. Plump, pink and successful, I could have easily been the youngest playboy in the world, adored by female creatures of all age, sizes and species. But life, as I knew it, changed when I joined a new school. I failed in half my subjects in the first cycle tests in this new school. And as it turned out, it was difficult being a playboy once you grow up, specially when you are still plump, and unsuccessful. My earlier school was an average institution, with no emphasis on spoken/written English. That is what pulled me down in this new place.
Eventually my performance in other subjects improved a little, but in English I could never do well. I did not know how to form sentences or to express as I would have wanted to. And conversing in English was an another story altogether, I just couldn’t manage to speak more than four words consecutively. Then two years later I made friends with a guy who had a thing for books. He would read 4 books in a week on an average and had a large collection (which only grew with time). As we came closer (okay this sounds gay), his book-reading habits rubbed on to me.
I made full use of his collection and our school library. I had no lack of sources and supplies, which I exploited to my heart’s content. Our school librarian and I shared the same ancestral village and I was still plump (it works with teachers even if you are 80 year old). She would issue three, sometimes four, books on my library card and many times I would get books even without a card, which means an instant death penalty if caught, by school standards. I had to keep my mouth shut and smuggle away those books discreetly.