The golden touch

Whatever the reason, my gold medal has been restored to its good looks.

As adults, we consider it our duty to teach children various aspects of life as we have seen and experienced it.

But what we don’t realise is that we often have a lot to learn from them. Once, this was brought home to me in a very special way. I teach a class on creative writing for students in classes five through ten. Since I have no set syllabus, I try to think of innovative ways to challenge them into using their imagination for writing essays and stories.

One day, I was cudgeling my brain, thinking of something new and fresh to do in class that would fire their imagination. It was the time of the 2012 Olympics. Children were being enthralled by the feats of athletes on television, and naturally the talk in class also veered towards it. We talked about how thrilling it must be to win a gold medal in the Olympics. We discussed how wonderful it would be to hear our national anthem being played on our account. We speculated on how it should feel to stand on the podium, holding our gold medal in our hand.

At that moment, an idea came to me. Success breeds success, they say, and once a winner, always a winner. Why not give my students a taste of winning? Why not give them the experience of holding a real gold medal in their hand? After all, I did have one! Oh, I was never an athlete, so it was not won in the sports arena. I had won the gold medal for scoring top marks in a subject during my undergraduate degree programme.

When I showed it to the children in the first classroom I went to, the next week, they
were thrilled. Naturally, they wanted to see it up close, and touch it, but they didn’t ask, sure that I would refuse to let them. That was when I gave it to them, asking them to close their eyes and hold it, imagining that they were on the podium at the Olympics, receiving their own gold medal.

What happened after that was sheer magic. However great a writer I become, I will never be able to describe the awe and delight I saw in the children’s faces at that moment. Their expressions of sheer joy were more rewarding to me than the greatest award on earth. One by one, they stood up, held the medal up, and with their eyes closed, imagined themselves as gold medalists on the podium in an Olympic stadium among cheering crowds. And for a moment, they were winners, in their own eyes.

This happened over two days, in class after class, nine divisions of about 40 students each, a grand total of about 350 students. Needless to say, we all had a wonderful time. After I had taken it to all the classes, I took the medal back home. That evening, I took it out of my bag with the intention of putting it away. It was then that I noticed something.

The medal was no longer looking tarnished and dull. In fact, it looked bright, gleaming, and fresh. I realised what must have happened. With all the handling it had received at the hands of the students, it had been wiped and polished. The rubbing had taken away the tarnish and dirt.

Whatever the reason, my gold medal has been restored to its former good looks. It has also been made relevant by the hands that are going to guide the future. And it has given rise to a whole crop of winners. Ah, the perfect Golden Touch!

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