Please stop winning the National Spelling Bee / by Rish Basu

It’s about that time of the year again. The Scripps National Spelling Bee.

I know you’re probably wondering why a kid like me has any connection or affiliation with such a prestigious event for such incredibly talented kids. 

And your queries are definitely justified. 

As something I would classify as one of the greatest accomplishments in my life, I made it to the eighth grade spelling bee once from Mrs. Ferguson’s English class. However, my accomplishments were short-lived as my entire family witnessed my elimination in the first round because I spelled the word “enamel” as “animal”. And I don’t think any of my past English teachers at this school would be quick to call me the next greatest English scholar of the 21st century. 

So yes, you are correct in assuming that the Scripps National Spelling Bee and Rish Basu should never be put in the same sentence (except right there).

But this column is a formal proposal to all the Indian-American kids who participate in the National Spelling Bee: please stop winning.

You guys have won the last ten National Spelling Bees – and also 12 of the last 15. To put the dominance of Indian-American kids at the Scripps National Spelling Bee into layman terms, the combined dominance of the Golden State Warriors, University of Connecticut women’s basketball team and the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls would still not achieve the level Indian-American kids have in the recent Scripps National Spelling Bees. So please, speaking on behalf of every other mediocre, barely above average Indian-American kid in the entire nation: give us a break!

Every year, my mom turns on the National Spelling Bee, and I hear the same, awe-struck statement from my mother: An Indian kid won the Spelling Bee again! If they can do it, you can do amazing things too! 

So that is why I want you guys to stop winning. There’s too much pressure on kids like me who want to spend their weekends watching Netflix. Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m always up for a challenge but being compared to an American-Indian kid winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee is like being matched up against Tiger Woods in his prime. An unstoppable force.

 And, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my mother is watching kids who have basically dedicated their lives to spelling. While I was learning how to take my first step, they were spelling words. While I was watching cartoons, they were watching Spellbound. And by the time I was attending basketball camps over the summer as a six-year-old, they finished writing their fourth dictionary. 

You get the point.

In a perfect world, I wouldn’t know anything about the National Spelling Bee, and the chances of ESPN being turned on at the Basu household come May 26 would be slim to none.

But recently, I figured out that one of our own, Sai Gunturi ’07, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2003. As you could probably guess by now, Sai Gunturi was an Indian-American kid from St. Mark’s, who went through the similar pressures of this school as I am now. So maybe, just maybe, there is still hope for me of achieving something as great as Sai did back in 2003. 

After all, implementing my mother’s mindset: if Sai can do it, so can I.