I felt so embarrassed

Saksham Mathur

Saksham Mathur, age 13, is a student of class VIII at Anand Niketan International School, Ahmedabad. He is deeply interested in science and its mysteries.

Saksham loves outings to exotic places. He is very fond of playing cricket and table tennis. In his free time, Saksham likes to dabble in creativity and finer arts. He also enjoys speaking from public platforms.

The classroom dustbin saw yet another paper ball.

‘Nice shot, Bill!’ someone cheered.

Bill Gates

Prankish Bill

Bill was the type of boy you would expect to see in a rock metal concert. His black clothes gave nothing away about his personality. His punk hair was dyed neon green, and the set of crooked teeth that showed themselves after pranking a classmate completed his look.

The door opened just as he threw another well-aimed paper ball towards the dustbin.

‘Who did that?!’ Mrs. Smith exclaimed, as the paper ball hit the stack of papers she was holding.

‘It was Bill, ma’am.’ Jeff Fries, the teacher’s pet spoke loyally.

‘Go back to your seat, Mr. Jones.’ Her voice was tinted with a hint of irritation.

Bill whistled back to his seat.

‘I shall be announcing your test results today.’

He smiled, having scored 45 minutes of sleep.

However, the rest of the class was a cacophony of excitement and anticipation. Jeff was already up from his seat, expecting to have ranked first as usual.

Mrs. Smith pinned the results on the class board.



The students rushed out of the class, with Jeff in the lead, to check how well they fared. Upon reaching the board, he let out a gasp of horror. He wasn’t first! The topper was …

‘Bill?’ Jeff cleaned his glasses thoroughly, checking if they were broken, and put them back on. ‘How did Bill score 99.7%, higher than me?’

The whole class burst into intense discussion. After all, he had never scored more than 30% in a test before.

The students’ chattering shattered his sleep. To his astonishment, he was greeted with a bunch of students around his desk.

‘Wha?’ Bill half spoke, half yawned. Why yo’ guys rou’ my desk?’

A student handed him the paper containing the results.

His eyes found his name on the paper, and read the marks beside it.

He clutched the paper as though his life depended on it. Disbelief covered his face, morphing into a smile.

‘I came first? I CAME FIRST!’

He had never felt this feeling before, coming first. The sort of praise that he received from his class was also new to him, and he very much liked it.

‘People!’ he grabbed everyone's attention and stood on his chair. ‘Today’s results have inspired me and given me the confidence to strive for excellence. To commemorate this day, I invite you to the most extravagant school cafeteria party you have ever seen! The bill is on me! Feast as much as you can on the cafeteria snacks!”

The end of his speech was greeted by loud cheering.

Everyone, except Jeff, who was sulking away in a corner, was super pumped to attend Bill’s cafeteria party.

‘I hope to see you there, Jeff.’ Bill patted his shoulder.

‘No thanks,’ Jeff rebuked ‘I have to study!’ And then huffed away.

As soon as the bell for recess rang, a storm of students ran out of the Grade 9 class, led by Bill. As the cafeteria came into sight, several eyes fixated upon the menu for that day. Written in bold was…

‘PIZZA!’ The class roared.

Everyone ordered the pizza they wanted and sat down, ready for the feast to begin.

Lunchtime canteen

Lunchtime canteen

Bill saw that Jeff had not come. He allowed himself a smirk. The boy was distraught even though he came second!

‘The total is 89 $.’ The cashier paused for a second and said. ‘You feeding the whole class, boy?’
‘I am, in fact.’ He handed a thick, folded stack of fresh, green money and left to celebrate. Now all he had left from his months of pocket money was a single dollar.

He made his way to a bench, and was just about to dig into a piece of pizza when Mrs. Smith rushed in, accompanied by Jeff.

“Students, your attention please!” Her hoarse voice cut through the cafeteria.

‘I am truly sorry, but the mark sheet that you saw earlier did not contain your actual marks.’

“This sheet,” She pointed toward a freshly printed paper, “Is the one that contains your actual marks. Jeff will pass the sheet around.”

Jeff practically snatched the sheet from Mrs. Smith, and walked towards Bill briskly.

‘Here you go, Bill. Have a look at your marks.’ His eyes were hungry, waiting to look at his reaction.

Bill already knew what was to come. Shaking, he took the paper in his hands and read his marks.


Those few spots of ink crushed him. He was no winner. He was broke.

He stormed towards a desk and dumped himself onto a seat wiping his tears with the free napkins that came with the pizza. If only the pizza had been free!

His perfect day had been ruined! The brief sense of glory, joy that he had experienced was completely undeserved. But one thing hadn’t changed. He would still be walking the path to excellence.

And Bill stayed true to his word. He studied sincerely, and even surpassed Jeff. It’s been 35 years since this incident took place, and if you ever visit Mr. Gates at Microsoft headquarters, remember to ask him how he felt then.

His response will always be the same ’I felt so embarrassed.’

Microsoft building at Redmond, WA

Microsoft building at Redmond, WA


Very nicely told - and what a story.

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