Written by: Sivasis Dey
About the author: Mentor: Advisor & Consultant – Downstream Oil & Gas | Former Executive Director-Indian Oil | Director-Indian Oil Mauritius Ltd
I came across the 27th English alphabet very recently !
It happened to my niece Ayesha.
She was trying for her son’s admission in one of the top schools of Kolkata. On the designated day and time, she was right there with Rahul waiting outside the interview room. Unlike other schools, the assessment here was based on the interaction with the child.
While waiting anxiously outside the Vice Principal’s (VP) room, Ayesha was trying to have her son revise all the probable questions. It was Rahul’s turn now. ‘Rahul Banerjee’, the short, fair lady in denim called out.
While Rahul entered the interview room, Ayesha waited with bated breath. She knew that the next few minutes would be one of most challenging moments of her life.
It was barely 2 minute or so, Rahul came out. Ayesha was surprised. She asked Rahul whether the interview was over? Rahul said ‘yes’.
What did they ask Rahul?
“Ok. You said na”?
“What else did they ask”?
“How many English alphabets”
“So you said na”?
“What did you say”?
What? 27? Arey ? OMG!
Ayesha was speechless. She, herself a teacher, she knew how she had coached him and this is one question where he cannot go wrong. She could figure out why Rahul’s interview got over so soon and her eyes blurred.
Angry, nervous, her throat, dry as bone, she didn’t know how to react. Her dream of her son……..in the best school vanished into the thin air.
Holding Rahul tightly by his wrist she darted out. Near the main gate, Rahul got a whack on the back instead of the ‘Dominos Pizza’ his mother had promised if the interview was good.
Exactly a week later, Ayesha got a call from Ankita, her best friend (whose son, Sagnik, had also appeared for the interview). Ankita was sounding excited and informed that the merit list is out and Rahul is there. Ayesha, still to recover from Rahul’s shocking answer, was in no mood to believe. She curtly asked Ankita not to joke, rather, not to mock and dropped the call.
Ayesha’s mobile vibrated again. Ankita was back. Ayesha answered the call with a bit of sarcasm “ Why don’t you come straight Ankita. I know you want to inform that Sagnik has been selected. Fine. Congratulations! But why do you have to make a story around Rahul?”
Ankita, eloquent as always, told her “Believe me or not Ayesh, Rahul is in and he tops the list. You may go and see for yourself”.
Ayesha, disbelief written all over her face and eyes, looked at Rahul (who was shadow practicing his golf swing), decided to visit the school, though unwillingly.
She jostled herself up to the notice board and what she saw, her eyes could not believe. The first name in the list was Rahul Banerjee. Ayesha quickly checked the Roll no and it was his own Rahul’s.
Happy but confused, she did not know how to react. She looked at the innocent face of Rahul and a drop of saline rolled down her cheek. She could not believe it.
She decided to meet the VP, Mrs Sharmistha Dias. She was an eminent educationist in the Kolkata Circuit and was adjudged the ‘Best Teacher’ a coupe of years back by a renowned media Group.
As the VP was in a meeting, Ayesha had to wait for some time before the Personal Secretary allowed her in.
Mrs Dias, with an ocean of experience, could easily read the despair in the mother’s face and offered her a seat. Once she was made comfortable, she asked Ayesha, what brings the lovely mother with the lovely son to her?
Ayesha’s voice was almost choked. Somehow she could garner up enough courage to say that she was not sure whether her son was selected. The VP asked whether they have not seen the list. Ayesha nodded in affirmative.
“Where is the issue then”? Mrs Dias was quick to respond. Ayesha fumbled but came to the point. “No, Mam, I mean, actually his interview was not good, so…. in a bit of doubt”.
Mrs Dias, a personality par excellence, looked a bit serious now. She asked Ayesha, how did she know that her interaction was not good? “Were you there in the interview”?
Ayesha tried to speak, “actually Mam, he could not answer the question on English letters, so….”
“Do you know what he answered?”. There was a glitter in Mrs Dias’ eyes and an expression of joy while she said “he came up with something very interesting…there are 27 letters in English”.
Looking straight at Ayesha, the VP continued “I was very surprised, because for the first time in my career of 30 years, someone came up with the idea of 27 letters”.
“ Normally, anyone would be rejected for that answer. But my seventh sense prompted me to probe more. I encouraged him to say the letters”. He spontaneously uttered A, B, C up to Z and took a pause. I had asked him “where is the 27th alphabet?”
Innocence written all over his face, he said “A+”. All of us around the table were taken aback but at the same time found it very interesting.
I always believed, Curiosity is the mother of Discovery. So I asked him where did he get the ‘A+” alphabet?
What he had said was just amazing and out of the box. Rahul answered that his Nursery teacher gave him ‘A+’ in all his subjects.
The puzzle was clear. The little boy assumed A+ as the 27th English alphabet. What a discovery!!!
It was so very happy to see that a 5-year old kid can be so innovative, think differently and relate differently. We were very impressed with Rahul. We did not feel the need to ask him any further question. In our opinion, Rahul was different and extraordinary.
As Ayesha got up from the chair, more saline drops rolled down her cheek in shame and pride.
I had remained so glued when Ayesha was narrating that I didn’t realize when my black coffee had turned cold. But my intuitive ‘marketing’ mind had been in learning mode and was able to relate that ‘there is a bit of ‘Marketing perspective’ in every one and in every day life……”