Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Teacher


Reading Tuesdays with Morrie has compelled me to go back into the old, school memories and think about one of the most influential people in my life. I still remember the burnt black marks on his hands. I noticed them first when I went to talk to him about my science project and I saw him closely for the first time. It was 9th grade. He had very dark, rugged skin, a thick black moustache, a deep, gruff voice, and a very serious expression on his face almost all the time. If it weren’t for his black, beady, affectionate eyes and his dimple, he would have been very unpleasant to look at. But he was not. He carried himself very well, was always well dressed, and every time he smiled, though seldom it used to be, his entire face used to light up, including his eyes. He was my Maths and Physics teacher.

 He believed in not only teaching us the subject and performing his duty; he used to make sure we really understood it. Every Monday and Friday we used to have Value Education classes. I never liked them, because before he started teaching us, Value Education classes were nothing but reading stories from Moral Science books and learning life lessons. But life’s lessons are not meant to be learnt off a book. I remember the first class with him. He taught us about the importance of behaving properly, dressing properly, and having manners. He gave examples from his own life, and I was so absorbed into his lecture, I never came to know when the class got over. At the end of the class, he asked us to dress neatly. Of course, I was a slob, and I conveniently forgot all about it. The next class, he checked everybody’s shoes, socks, clothes, ribbon, nails etc. He looked at my socks. They were dirty, their elastic had become useless and they fell all the way down to my ankles. He looked at me and said, “Have you seen the state of your socks?” I looked down, embarrassed.

He then explained to us, that when we dress neatly, it is not only for us, it is for the others. "If you go to someone’s place dressed shabbily, you are insulting them. You are saying you don’t care enough to appear clean and tidy. You simply don’t care."

And that was it. I had never thought about it like that. Since then, there was a considerable improvement in the way I started dressing myself up. He also taught us the right body language; he taught us compassion, humility, and punctuality. I began to love his classes and always looked forward to them. He also made a box where he asked us to write our suggestions of topics that we would like to discuss with him. And we wrote, oh, how much I wrote. We talked about relationships, God, spirituality, death, money, education, family, career, life, teenage confusions and a whole lot of other things. I never missed a single class. Every class used to leave me pondering, and compelled me to write about it in my journal. He used to solve our fights and conflicts patiently, like a counselor. He just had a way with words, if you know what I mean.

Though, I often wondered about those marks on his hands.

Years passed, and his classes were over. We moved to the 11th standard and apparently, Value Education classes are not as important when girls turn 17. All the while, I never got enough guts to talk to him about something on a personal level. Although I really wanted to. I was a good student, did all my work on time, but never did I follow him any day after class to just talk to him. Or to tell him about my feelings about his classes. I should have. Really should have. I learnt many life’s lessons in that classroom; I became a better, more empathetic human being. I learnt how to be selfless and kind. How to believe in something. How to improve as a performer, and as a person. And I owed that much to him.

Finally, one day I got to know he was being transferred to another school. It was his farewell party in a week. I couldn’t believe it. Immediately, I got some handmade paper and made a card for him. A flowing river, with a lone figure walking on a bridge over it. Underneath it I wrote, “Whenever there will be trouble, your wisdom is going to help me through.”

It sounds stupid right now, and maybe a little too much. Inside I wrote everything I wanted to say to him, everything his classes meant to me, and how much I learnt from them and cherished them. Before he left, we all stood around him, holding flowers and banners. He came up to me, looked at me with those black, beady eyes and said “It feels good to know my classes helped at least one student. It means a lot, thank you.” And then he just left. Forever. And I still continued to wear clean socks.

After reading Morrie, I became sad. I wondered where sir would be, how he would be. And then it hit me! Hey, we’re not living in the ‘70s anymore. I Facebooked him! Yes, he was there! He currently lives in Ontario, Canada! He still looks the same :) At once, I sent him a friend request.

I hope he remembers me :)

I still often wonder about those scars though.

19 comments:

  1. And I still continued to wear clean socks.
    :)

    Reminds me of our principal, he too left in 11th standard, and I've been an ass not to stay in touch with him. We used to text each other and all in school but then something happened after he left school and there was this distance, don't know how to bridge that. Too embarrassed to talk to him now because he once said to me 'Everybody forgets you eventually'. I so want to tell him that it is not the case, he still is the most influential person in my life but sadly I don't have the guts to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, Varun. Such things happen. We don't really know why they happen. It's not anybody's fault. It's just that, time passes, and we move on, along with it.
      Why don't you have the guts to contact him again? I'm pretty sure he'd be thrilled to hear from you. And then you can prove his statement wrong :)

      Delete
  2. nice post! why dont you send this post link to him ... im sure he will be thrilled

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :)
      I did send him a message on FB and he replied to it :)
      It felt great. I don't know about sharing the link with him. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't.

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Hello, new reader :)
      Like I said, I'll share the link with him when the timing feels right :)
      thanks!

      Delete
    2. Hey Astha!

      I have been a "Silent reader" of your blog for over a month now!! I soo love ur writing! Tk cre! :)

      Delete
    3. Wow, thank you! :)
      This just makes me grin like a chimp!

      Delete
  4. This most makes me smile ear to ear. Everyone has that one teacher I guess. Who makes the most difference. :) And Tuesdays with Morrie is a lovely book. When I was in junior college we'd staged a Hindi play called Waah, Guru! for an inter-college competition where the pupil and his old college philosophy teacher met on Thursdays or Guruvaar so it'd be a nice pun too. :)

    That apart, I wrote a post like this one about my favourite teacher from school, too. Would you like to read it? It's here -

    http://bluedrain.blogspot.in/2010/09/cost-of-living.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Karishma :)
      If there is anything that you haven't read/watched, please do tell me :P
      The Hindi play sounds extremely interesting. I've always loved plays. I want to act in them too, in the future. Guru-vaar is a nice idea :D

      And I read your post! Lovely! You have a fantastic way of writing! I can imagine the entire scene, you know? :) Loved it :)

      Delete
  5. And God's nightgown on your twitter feed? Whatever is that? :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'God's nightgown' is an expression that was used a lot in Gone with the Wind. That time I had freshly read it, so it was on my mind! haha! :P

      Delete
  6. what Sir Fernandes did for you, Ma'am Sahejwani did for me :)

    can't find people like that anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahh, I remember her :)
      Sadly, she was never our class teacher and I remember her only as my Geography teacher. But boy, she was elegant! Her sarees, that little comb clip in her hair, her spectacles. Not only was she cute, she was also an amazing teacher. I still remember I used to understand everything she used to teach. Volcanoes, stalagtites and stalagmites, those maps, topography.. everything!

      Were you very close to her?
      Gems some of the teachers were :)

      Delete
  7. Tuesdays with Maurrie is a very nice read. Really liked it. Also makes you think about a lot of aspects.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's Morrie! And yes, it does :)

      Delete
    2. ok...noted the spelling :D

      Delete
  8. am thinking why I didn't check ur blog for so many days.....missed reading these heart touching articles.....but am happy I did today....what a lovely start of this day!! xxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Priya di, you're too sweet! Thank you! I checked your comment on my phone and it just brightened up my day! Thank you! :)

      Delete

I love it when you have a say! So, type away! :)