My classmates wrote the standard essay, describing flora and fauna of the season and explaining its scientific impact. Mine was entirely different: it unfolded like an adventure story, of a boy who braves the monsoon gales, wades through rain-soaked streets, meets playful street urchins and has a glorious set of experiences that he can muse over and cherish.
When I took the essay to the class, a friend read it avidly, and then it passed from hand to hand until every classmate had read it, excitedly discussed it and told me how it had regaled him.
It was demeaning and I could not bear it in silence. I stood up and said he was free to grade my essay any way he liked, but he was not entitled to scorn my effort to write something original and creative. I could see that I had the silent support of my classmates. So I went on to add that, disparage it as he might, he needed to know what I knew: that all his students had read my essay, liked it and had rated it far above the routine essays they had themselves produced.
Stickler was suddenly without words. Perhaps he knew he had said more than he should have. He looked at the class and realized that he had lost the round. He gathered his papers and walked slowly out of the room. Just then the bell mercifully rang.
I found it hard to forget his unkindness. But I also wondered if I too had spoken too much and taken the wind out of an earnest, spirited teacher.