WHEN HE WAS EDITOR OF THE ILLUSTRATED WEEKLY OF INDIA, Khushwant Singh ran a series called “India of My Dreams”. In his memorable contribution, the late Mr Minoo Masani wrote about the undying optimism of the Indian teacher in a village in India , diligently correcting the compositions of his students with only a kerosene lamp by his side, hoping that his earnest efforts will make his students “better persons”. On #Teacher’s Day, as I write this, there is indeed a procession of teachers streaming into memory who influenced me one way or the other, right from primary school until graduation !
I CANNOT FORGET THE RAPS I RECEIVED ON MY KNUCKLES from Miss Dulcine during the cursive writing sessions (when I was in class 3 I think) that probably went a long way in shaping my handwriting or the insightful lecture by Mr Victor about any person’s first brush with death as he explained the nuances of John Crowe Ransom’s memorable poem “Janet Waking”. Indeed, Mr Victor’s English classes instilled in me a lifelong interest in poetry. The soft but energetic voice of Ms Cynthia in class 4 talking about “the camel’s ugly lump” in a Kipling poem has somehow remained with me all these years. Ms Cynthia had brown hair, cat’s eyes, and usually wore bright sarees and I adored her. Did I have a crush on her ? I don’t know – I am not sure. Kipling’s “If” is a favourite poem of mine but my journey towards savouring Kipling’s oeuvre began with “the camel’s ugly lump” in Ms Cynthia’s class ! Vishnumoorthi Sir used to take us back in time in his history classes. One minute ago, is history, he used to say but he also reminded us that history is the greatest teacher. If we are clever, we will avoid the mistakes of the past, otherwise history repeats itself !! How right he was ! Compelled by my Dad to take up Commerce (instead of literature) I was wary of attending Mr Raman’s accountancy classes. But his lectures worked magic and if I secured a B.Com degree with a first class, I owe it largely to Mr Raman. His book on accountancy is still followed by many.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW THAT TEACHERS are not found only in classrooms. We encounter them every day in life as long as we keep our eyes and ears open. There are teachers at our workplaces too. As long as we keep learning, teachers will remain in our midst. I remember Lilian Wong, my assistant in Singapore who kept admonishing me now and then : “Why can’t you keep your work table neat and clean ?” and later Hetal in Dubai who literally pushed me into writing. One fine morning she even sent me a template so that I had no further excuses but to blog ! She was among the first who led me to think that I should take up writing seriously.
WHEN ONE IS AWAY FROM THE PORTALS OF LEARNING or for that matter from a job, it does not mean that we have lost the companionship of teachers or mentors. Life itself is our best teacher. Before the day draws to a close, if we care to reflect on how well spent the day was, life’s lessons for that day will inevitably surface and if we are optimistic enough, we will face the next day with hope.
ON THIS DAY, I BOW TO ALL THE TEACHERS at the portals of learning and to life itself – our greatest teacher !!