The world’s best speller is inspired by a Bollywood movie on dyslexia. And if that is not irony enough, Sukanya Roy, 14, the Indian-origin winner of the prestigious Spelling Bee championship in US, is a whole lot of fun behind that serious, geeky exterior.
“I loved Taare Zameen Par, and 3 Idiots, too,” says Sukanya, who understands basic Hindi and speaks in Bangla and English with her college teacher parents, who moved to the US in 1982, much before she was born. Roy, who wants to take her friends to an amusement park with her prize money, is an eighth grader at the Abington Heights Middle School in Pennsylvania, US. The ninth Indian-American to win the school-level contest, she digs Bollywood flicks and loves travelling to Goa and her parents’ hometown, Burdwan in West Bengal. “I’ve been visiting India every summer. I enjoy meeting my grandparents and touring different places ... the beaches, museums, temples and people,” she says.
Recalling the word, cymotrichous, that won her the coveted title, she says, “It means having wavy hair. I could piece it together based on the roots — kyma in Greek means wave, and the root trich- means hair. I spelled it slowly and was extremely excited, but tried not to show it.” And no, it wasn’t difficult. “There’s no definition of what makes a word difficult. Once you know it, it’s easy!”
What’s Spelling Bee?
Scripps National Spelling Bee is an annual word-spelling competition held in the US with participants from various schools around the world. The winner of the contest, which was founded in 1925, wins a $30,000 cash prize.