My experience with the very first day biology class largely determined my attitude toward the subject. I had joined the school in Feb. 69. In the biology class on the first day Shriman Asthanaji began the class with a monthly test. Till then I had never attended a single class in biology in my life. I could just copy something from a picture hanging in front of me in the biology lab and submitted the answer. Later on I went to him and told him about my situation. He assured me that he would take care of it. I ended with a 'D' in the monthly test. On my further plea he told me that in case I was able to score better in the next monthly test he would upgrade my earlier grade accordingly. In the next monthly test I had a 'C'. I approached him to revise the earlier month grade to 'C'. He said that with such a poor score how could I expect any revision. The final month grade was to be the average of all the grades during the year. I was hopeful that I would be accorded a 'C' for that month as the average of the previous two grades. However I was awarded a 'D' for the final month thereby flunking in biology in the first year. Subsequently I was given a special promotion in the first year along with 2-3 other students who had similarly flunked in one or more subjects. Theoretically persons of my ilk should have been thrown out of the school for poor academic performance.
Next year biology was taught by Shriman Vasudevanji. That year I ended up scoring mostly 'A' or 'B+' in biology. That did made me somewhat enthusiastic toward biology. However in the third year Shriman Asthanaji came back as the teacher of the 'A' Section. I again ended up consistently scoring 'C' in the monthly tests. To me as well as his own disbelief I scored quite high marks in the mid-term and end-term in biology. In fact in maths IInd paper I was scoring only around 50% as I used to be making a lot of silly mistakes, which the maths teacher used to punish very harshly in my case. Despite that I ran away from the biology stream in the fourth year. I loved maths despite my marks. In fact my series of silly mistakes and poor marks in maths continued throughout the fourth year. Only in the fifth year pre-board for the first time in Netarhat I had a score of 91 in general maths and 81 in advanced maths. In the Inter first year initially we were told that biology as well as maths were to be compulsory, which all of were able to resist successfully. We did attend a few classes of biology for a week. At the end of a class by Vasudevanji I used to feel like continuing with biology as the optional subject. All that used to get floored as soon as I used to enter the class of Asthanaji. All this taught me the critical role sensitivity plays in our lives - for ourselves as well as in our interactions with others.
Vikram Ashram (1968-75)