March 2014 \ Publications \ BOOK EXCERPTS

From Nothing to Everything, Publisher: Harriman House Ltd., Co-author by: Simon Wicks , Price: £19.99, Pages: 174

 As a teenager, I was spoilt and carefree. Being the youngest has its ups and downs in a large family — at times I felt that I was the last in line because there were so many people before me. But I was usually happy because I was well looked after by my mother, brothers and sister. Everyone around me gave me a lot of love and I was never short of anything.

Everything revolved around the family and we were very close-knit. In those days there was no television and little to do for entertainment. Besides, we couldn’t afford many things—just having a good meal was an achievement for us. We always ate together and shared everything. Even after my brothers left home, they would come back on leave for a month each year and we would be as close as ever—eating together, still sharing our food; only now we could afford more and better food and eat what we wanted to, rather than what we could afford.

I was spoiled at home and I was spoiled at school. I went to my mother’s primary school and, being a child of one of the teachers, the other children were scared of me and gave me respect that I had not really earned. To be honest, I received too much love and attention whilst I was growing up. Everything was made far too easy for me. I was lazy at school and not academically bright and when my mother put me into a good school I had to leave it because it was too much hard work and I couldn’t keep up.

For me, life was easy and I was carefree. In the summer holidays we would go to my uncle’s near Lucknow, where he had a farm and where I would play in the sugar cane fields with my cousins, most of whom are now scattered all over the world, in Australia, Canada, the United States and, of course, Great Britain.

I was far more interested in playing with friends than studying and had friend after friend. I wanted nothing but friends and became very popular. I got on with people and I enjoyed their company. As I got older, I enjoyed going to the movies with friends or travelling to their villages outside Patiala to hang around the fields doing nothing in particular— often when I should have been in school.

I didn’t like school. My aim was to find company and truancy became the order of the day. If we didn’t skip school, we would just sit at the back of the class during lessons and chat or play games. The classrooms themselves were huge and classes consisted of anything between 70 and 100 children. It was too easy to go unnoticed, though I can see now that I didn’t enjoy school because I made no effort to follow the teaching. You have to know what’s going on to enjoy something, and I didn’t have any idea what was going on. It’s the same as if you go to an event and the people sitting at the front can hear everything clearly so they’re enjoying it, but the people at the back are straining to hear, missing things and losing track. I sat at the back, chatted, played games and lost interest.