Participate in the 3rd Season of STORYMIRROR SCHOOLS WRITING COMPETITION - the BIGGEST Writing Competition in India for School Students & Teachers and win a 2N/3D holiday trip from Club Mahindra
Participate in the 3rd Season of STORYMIRROR SCHOOLS WRITING COMPETITION - the BIGGEST Writing Competition in India for School Students & Teachers and win a 2N/3D holiday trip from Club Mahindra

Cécile Rischmann



Cécile Rischmann


Almost a Failure

Almost a Failure

4 mins 188 4 mins 188


She was a college student. Very pretty. No, she was more than pretty. She was beautiful. She glided into the classroom where I sat behind a wooden desk, the rectangular blackboard behind me, my fingers stained with chalk powder.

She placed her stylish bag on the cluttered desktop and tried to smile.

"My name is Renuka. I have a month to attempt my French arrear exam. I was told you take private classes, M'am."

I inclined my head, ready to seize the challenge. Nothing gave me more pleasure than teaching this romantic and sweet-sounding language to students. Most of mine came from prominent schools and colleges.

I looked at Renuka, and the words died on my lips. Her large brown eyes were moist, and she wiped her cheeks, seeming embarrassed.

"I don't think I'll make it, M'am. The French professor at the university refused to take me on. He said it would be a waste of his time and mine."

"So why are you here?"

 "My college HOD recommended that I see you."

"I'm glad you came here, Renuka. As for that professor…" My insides churned in rage. How dare he make such a statement to anyone, leave alone a student who was already sinking in despair? "We'll prove him wrong."

Her head tilted forward, and her hands knotted on her lap. "But what if he's right, M'am? My grammar is bad. I'll have to start from scratch. There's only one month."

"Renuka, you've taken the first step and come here," I said in a stern voice, upset that the university professor had managed to plant doubt in her mind. "Let's leave the impossibilities outside the door. I want you to promise me that you'll work hard and believe that you're going to accomplish this feat. With God on our side, we will win."


"No buts. Let's begin."

She sat back with a nervous smile and a face filled with hope. I knew my first task was not to teach her French but to make her believe in herself. My second task was to erase from her mind all the negatives that had accumulated over the years and condition it with faith, enthusiasm and possibility. After I get her to accept that she has potential, the French classes will begin.

I'm happy to report that Renuka was faithful to her word. She was in my class every day for that one month, listening attentively, doing the homework and working like crazy. By the end of the month, she was so confident that she could climb a mountain.

To cut a long story short, Renuka didn't just pass in French…she came out with a distinction! The same professor, who told her not to waste her time and his attempting the exam, now stated that he was proud of her. He knew she had it in her.

Then why hadn't he told her that in the first place instead of bringing her down? Not all of us are brave enough to rise when taunted. Some of us die within and never reach our potential because some know-it-all destroyed that flicker of hope. Some of us turn bitter and curse our fate and blame everyone around us for our misfortune. Some of us agree with our critics and bow down in defeat.

But those who are wise will examine the advice given, sift out the destructive, and learn from the constructive. They will study their advisors because, according to Sirach 6:6 and 9:14, "Take advice from one out of thousand, and only from those who are qualified to give it."

So first, we must scrutinize the motivation behind the advice. As Sirach says in 37:7, "Anyone can give advice, but some people do so only in their interest."

So after we have made sure that our advisors are genuine, we should accept the criticism and work on our shortcomings.

Coming back to Renuka, had the HOD not directed her for private tutoring, she would have been living under the misconception that she could not attempt the French arrear and pass, let alone get a distinction. She would have accepted the verdict of that university professor, and her mind would have been saturated with failure. Naturally, failure would have been the outcome.

So let us not be too quick to cut down a tree that is not bearing fruit. Maybe if we tend to it with love and attention, apply some manure, water it regularly, we can save that tree.

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