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Write About Your Childhood Challenge: Reciting A Poem First Time In School

Umesh is a freelance writer contributing his creative writings on varied subjects in various knowledge and educational sites in internet.

Challenge

"Normally I give you some photos as writing prompts, but I think I’ll change things up a bit for you today...

So no photos today, just one instruction: write about your childhood! It can be a poem, it can be a fictional account, it can be autobiographical in style, whatever, but it has to be true, which is tricky if it's fiction, but you'll figure it out." ~ Billybuc

So, thanking Billybuc for giving me an opportunity to rekindle the memory of my chilhood and share it here with Hubbers and other readers, I want to mention that this is true incident that I am presenting as a creative piece of writing and it might look like a fiction also but as Billybuc had rightly mentioned in his challenge that one can differentiate between a fiction and true fiction, I feel relieved much. So leaving that responsibility now entirely on the readers, I would detail about the incident.

Background

This incident happened in my native hill town Pithoragarh located in the Uttarakhand state in India. I was in primary class 4 or 5 (one of them but do not remember exactky which one) and the time is circa 1959 or 1960, about 60 years back. The name of school at that time was Lws Bhatkot Primary School, located almost in an Easterly direction of the town main market area, and it was a good 1-1/2 km from my house in the main town and we used to walk on the hilly road to reach there. I had many isolated memories of that time on the blurred canvass of school environment, teachers, classmates etc. So pardon me if I can not give names and labels accurately in my forthcoming description.

Pithoragarh

About the school

Bhatkot School was a primary school from class I to VIII and had co-education in class I to V. This story pertains to 60 years back when there were a few choices of schools and this being the reputed one my father after his transfer from Nainital to Pithoragarh, admitted us (myself and my younger brother) there, in class 4 and class 2 respectively.

Today this is a senior secondary school exclusively for girls in that area.

Teacher gave us assignment

I do not remember the routine classes and things like that going at that time but distinctly remember the voice of the teacher who said that there was one cultural day to be observed in which every student has to present some poem or some short children story or may be a dance or something like that. The girl students in the class raised their hands to tell that were ready to dance. Some boys also raised their hands and told that they would be doing dance or reciting poem etc. A few boys including me were just sitting without any reaction as we were not knowing what to do and how to do such things. The teacher undertood and assigned us something to present and told me to present a poem on any subject and wrote a note to my father in my copybook. I was happy as it looked so simple.

My father was excited

My father had great faith and believe in education and he always told us that it was the only way to progress, though we took a lot of time to understand the message in those prudent exclamations. When he read the teacher's note in my copybook he became so excited that I was a bit perplexed with his behaviour. Was it such a big thing that my father was happy about it. Anyway my father pulled me near him and told me that there is one beautiful Hindi poem and it would be very impressive if I recited that on the occasion. So, rehearsals started and in a few days I could cram the poem and wherever I went it went with me as most of the times I repeated it with myself. My younger brother was also seeing these developments with much interest and curiosity. So I was ready and waiting for the function to be held in 10 days time.

The poem was in Hindi and comprised of two stanzas of 4 lines each. It started like (my humble effort for translating it in English) -

Everyday some bird in the morning,

Came and made sound so chirping ...

The previous day

The day before the function was to be held, the teacher told us what to wear and how to present ourselves in the function and asked all of us to show the performance to her in the class. I also stood from my seat and narrated the poem blankly without seeing towards her face and sat down. I was happy that I could recollect it. The teacher glanced at me with something in her eyes which I could only understand later. She was perhaps not happy with my expressionless poor performance.

The cultural day

Parents were also invited to attend the function but my parent were unable to attend and so myself and my brother went together to school and reached there well before the scheduled time.

On the scheduled time, we were taken to the hall and were asked to sit in our alotted seats and were also directed and shown by the teacher as how we had to get up and go to the stage and how we have to come back to our seat once our presentation was over.

It was a long waiting as names were being announced class wise and some students performed with confidence while some made mistakes and errors here and there but the audience supported them with applause and things were going well till my name was announced. I moved to the stage feeling normal and turned to the audience. The big hall was filled with students, teachers, parents and I saw only heads and heads in rows and two eyes from each of the head were focussed on me as there was no other job they had. I was frietened and was for a shock and totally forget for what I was there. The supporting teacher whispered to me - "Everyday some bird ...". I could not understand what she wants me to do. Few seconds passed and my fears increased and throat was choked. When the teacher saw some tears rolling on my cheeks, she just dragged me to side for making the space for the next student to be called.

It was a bad experience at such a tender age. When I reached home my younger brother narrated the story in much short and my father was disappointed but did not tell me anything. I recovered from the shock soon totally unaware that I was frietened that day due to my stage fright.

Vote

Conclusion

That was the first time in my life that I was asked to present something in presence of such a big gathering and later I came to know that it was only stage fright and can be overcome with confidence and practice. There is nothing to worry about it as many of us have it and feel lost in front of the audience.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Umesh Chandra Bhatt

Comments

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on November 04, 2020:

Dale, thanks for sharing your experience.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on November 03, 2020:

I have suffered from serious stage fright in my life. It makes me laugh at myself that I spent decades giving lectures and hosting large meetings in front of thousands of people. I may have looked cool as could be but I hated every second of it.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 08, 2020:

SKMUNSHI, thanks a lot for the encouragement.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 08, 2020:

DRRAO, thanks a lot for the encouragement.

SKMUNSHI on October 08, 2020:

An honest admission of what happens

To almost all first time stage performers, so nicely articulated and truthfully recollected.

DRRAO on October 08, 2020:

The article is very well written to the minute details possible,shows your strong memory.Hope to read more from you.Namate

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 07, 2020:

Anurag, thanks for your observations and sharing.

Anurag on October 07, 2020:

Brilliant writeup!!!

It was quite precise in expressing the true emotions, i too had a similar feeling and could relate it in reality!!

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 03, 2020:

Ankita, thanks for your nice comment.

Ankita B on October 02, 2020:

I can very well relate to this story for I also had a similar experience in school. Thank you for sharing this story of yours.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 02, 2020:

Brenda, thanks a lot.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 01, 2020:

Umesh,

Such a delightful story. I can picture you practicing so hard only to be overcome with stagefright.

It happens to the best if us...I still get frightened when speaking in front of others.

Each experience makes ys a little bit stronger.

Great writing for the challenge.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 28, 2020:

Dora, no doubt it was a learning experience only.

Peggy, thanks for sharing your experience.

Mary, you are quite right. We have to learn to conquer the fear. Thanks.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 28, 2020:

I felt so bad for you although we all had to conquer our stage fright and the only way is to go through it.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 28, 2020:

I was very shy as a youngster. My parents and grandparents encouraged me to take Speech as an elective in high school. I remember how nervous I was when it was my turn to make presentations. It did help, however. I could empathize with your experience, completely.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 28, 2020:

Childhood is about learning and practice. I hope that you list this under "Important Learning Experiences." Thanks for sharing.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 27, 2020:

Rania, thanks for visiting and sharing your experience.

Rania Heikal from Egypt on September 27, 2020:

Stage fright or speaking in public is really very hard. Your experience reminds me of “ The King’s Speech” movie. I was required in my childhood to present for songs performance. My mom asked me not to say anything till the audience are silent completely. I stayed speechless for a minute and nothing. 2 or 3 of the audience started to say” come on, say something”. Then I realized that mama’ opinion is not suitable here

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 27, 2020:

Chrish, thanks for your visit and sharing your experience.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on September 27, 2020:

Aw this is just so cute when we're young. thanks for writing and sharing this

Sir Umesh.

I had this experienced too when I was in grade 6

Our teachers just gave us 24 hours to memorize the whole thing the subject was about cultural and native language, seriously that time on the stage I thought to my self this is the end of my life! Everyone is looking at me waiting for something to happen.

Thanks again for sharing your story with us. Have a great day/night :-)

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 27, 2020:

Lora, thanks for your nice comment. You are a kind soul. Stay blessed.

Lora Hollings on September 26, 2020:

I really felt for you, Umesh, as a child in your story. I played an instrument and many times, when I had to perform, I would get quite nervous. But, I still managed to be able to perform, and I finally reached the point that I could control my fear well enough to conceal it. It takes much practice though! You did a very good job with this challenge. I certainly empathized with you.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 26, 2020:

Chitrangada, thanks for your nice words. Appreciate much.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 26, 2020:

Great response to the challenge.

I enjoyed reading about your childhood memories. This is so relatable to me, and I am sure many others. Stage fear can happen to anyone, and at any age.

Thank you so much for sharing your personal story, and you belong to a beautiful place.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 26, 2020:

Rajan, thanks a lot.

Riya, thanks for the nice comment.

Anicham, thanks for visiting and making such an elaborate observation.

Anicham Pugal from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India on September 26, 2020:

Stage fright is really a horrible thing. I remember one day for Children's Day in school, for a competition I had to sing. I did sing but, my voice was super shaky and my stomach was doing backflips the whole time. I can totally relate to stage fright.

Its better if you don't have to look at the audience directly. The scary part is only looking at their eyes on you.

RIYA DHANWANI from NEEMUCH on September 25, 2020:

Thank you sir for sharing your experience. I can totally connect with your story, I have experienced the same incident when I was in 8th class. I just recall my all memories.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 25, 2020:

Stage fright is has been a reality for most speakers at some point in their life. Yours was the first time and at your age then that it is easily understandable.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 25, 2020:

Linda, thanks a lot.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 25, 2020:

I'm sorry that you experienced stage fright when you were so young. It's sad that it happened. Your description of the event was interesting.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 25, 2020:

Eric, so nice that you liked it. I am so happy about it.

Megha, thanks for sharing your experience.

Hertha, thanks for your nice words.

Flourish, you are right, earlier is better.

Roadmonkey, thanks for sharing your experience.

Bill, thanks, happy that I was not the lone guy.

Ann, thanks for your kind words.

John, after reading your poem only, I started writing my response to this challenge.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on September 25, 2020:

Umesh, thank you for sharing that uncomfortable experience. I used to be very nervous speaking or reciting in front of an audience. I am still uncomfortable with it but can manage to overcome the fear if I really need to. A good response to Bill’s challenge.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 25, 2020:

That incident must have left its scars! The failure was the teacher's in not preparing you sufficiently. To suddenly force that upon you is unforgivable, especially as you didn't get any sympathy either. Great that you can share it now. It made me feel nervous for you.

Great response to Bill's challenge.

Ann

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 25, 2020:

Thank you for sharing that experience. I had terrible stage fright when I was younger. I would lay awake at night worrying about speaking in front of the class. Your story brought many memories back to me, so thank you for that!

RoadMonkey on September 25, 2020:

Yes, I had a similar experience at a later age. I was brought up in Wales and each year there, they hold Eisteddfodau (Eisteddfods). These are festivals of poetry, music, singing, writing and are held on or near St David's Day, (patron Saint of Wales). I chose to recite a poem in French and can still remember most of it. It started well but when it came to the end, I just could not remember the last part. Again, I did not realise it was stage fright until I was told by one of the teachers. It didn't stop me going on to become a management trainer / consultant, standing up in front of groups, many years later. I feel for you!

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 25, 2020:

The sooner and more frequently that kids are able to perform in front of others the easier it will be. Your teacher probably didn’t help much by failing to give enthusiastic positive support.

Hertha David from Windhoek, Namibia on September 25, 2020:

What a great and sad story. Thank you for sharing your experience.

There are many children with stage fright but I believe the sooner they are exposed to a stage the better they learn to overcome their fear.

Megha Ginnare from BHOPAL on September 25, 2020:

I too had a cultural performance failure. Your article refreshed all of that sir. I still have dreams of me missing the bus for school because I got late.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 25, 2020:

Wow, what a story, you pulled me right in and I felt the terror.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 25, 2020:

Cheryl, thanks a lot.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on September 25, 2020:

Thank you for sharing this most interesting childhood memory. You recalled it in great detail.