Monday, April 4, 2016

Lesson 4: It is never too late to learn a new skill

Lessons from my father (A tribute to my late father)

Lesson 4: It is never too late to learn a new skill

My father believed in the power of knowledge. He never wasted an opportunity to learn a new skill or a new science. He encouraged us to do the same. Whenever I created anything new using some new craft I learned, I would show it to him first. Because he would appreciate it for what it was and won’t look for mistakes. Then if I asked for suggestions to improve it, he would say use your imagination, don’t ask others for help.

Once I had to go out during my summer vacation while I was in Class XI. I wanted to leave him a message about where I was going and at what time I would come home. I began my message in Malayalam. I addressed him as ‘Acha’ (Malayalam for father) and began the note. I studied in a Kendriya Vidyalaya from class IV where Malayalam was not taught as a second language. So my writing skills in Malayalam were very poor. Whatever way I wrote ‘Acha’, didn’t seem quite right. The words in Malayalam can be quite tricky. After three failed attempts, I turned the paper over and wrote the message in English and left it on the study table for him to find.

When he found the note, he understood exactly what had happened and asked me to write the word ‘Acha’ again. I failed to do it. He laughed but told me to start at the beginning. To write the vowels and consonants of Malayalam. To my horror, I found I did not remember many of the Malayalam vowels or Consonants. I promptly blamed it on the many years I had not touched a Malayalam textbook.

Next day, he brought a two line copy book and asked me to borrow the Malayalam textbook from my neighborhood kid who studied in class 1.
I protested. I was ashamed. I told him I was too old to begin learning it again.
“There is no age for learning,” he said.

So began my classes. I was made to write the vowels and consonants over and over again till I mastered it. After that, a Malayalam newspaper was subscribed to, which I had to read every day. Before that, we read just ‘Indian Express’.
Thankfully because of his efforts, I can still read and write Malayalam properly. It is because of that lesson he taught me that I joined for MA English literature during my sabbatical from my Civil Engineering job after my son was born. Ten years after I had left college!
Today I am proud to say that I hold an MA in English Literature. There indeed exists no age limit for learning.


  1. Rightly said, Preethi Venugopala.. If I'm dedicated in that direction, any learning looks not hard.. A good Post!

  2. that's very inspiring, great

  3. You are indeed the chip of the old block...and your dad has instilled in you the urge for knowledge and the thirst to explore things on your own ...