I’m told winners aim for the top position. Numero uno. Any other rank, and it’s equivalent to failing. A lot of children are tutored this again and again right from childhood. Most of them give it a try, and fail. A few achieve success and consistently try to maintain that status all their life. These are your school toppers, the gold medalists in your college, and possibly the ones that go around with an impressive resume.

Thankfully I had more reasonable parents who didn’t follow that line of thought. Having a teacher as one of your parents helps – you are shown the fun side of school education.

Anyway, I wasn’t topper material anyway, so it wouldn’t have helped if they pushed it on me. But I did reasonably well, at times giving the toppers a good run for the money. The first time that happened was in 5th standard when I came close to topping in the school trailing by just a few marks. With respect to actual ranking, I came third. My parents were over the moon, I didn’t care a rat’s ass about it. But not my English teacher, whom I was quite fond of. So when I happily rattle off to her about my scores she replies “You can do better Niranjan. Better luck next time.

Thankfully I was too naive to understand what she actually meant. And thus my childhood still remained as sane as earlier.