Back in school, I was shy and timid. A mouse! My classmates ignored me. I sat alone in my corner bubbled in a cocoon, not wishing to be heard. Preferably not even be seen. An invisibility cloak was the thing topmost on my list of “Things I Desire”. I needn’t have bothered! I was for all practical purposes already “Invisible”. My teachers didn’t know I existed.
Then, walked in Mam Kuhad. She taught us English in class 6th. I must have been 11 yrs. She was a wonderful teacher. I was a bright student (if a tongueless one) and I enjoyed the way she brought alive the legends. Shakespeare, Keats, Wordsworth, Wilde. One day she set us an assignment! We were to write our own story using a few opening lines that she’d given us. . I don’t recall the exact lines but they had a ‘frog’ somewhere. The assignment in itself was exciting. But to me, what happened later was remarkable!
She made me read my work to the class and commended me. The story that I’d written was nothing spectacular. Just a variation of a commonly told tale. I don’t think she made me read it, that summer afternoon, to the 40 barely interested girls, because my work was too great to lie unrevealed. Rather, I think it was her way of saying she knew I existed. That what I had to say mattered.
I would like to say that my life changed drastically after that. That I went from being a quiet nobody to the center of attention, surrounded by giggling girls. But I would be lying! The difference her action made was more subtle. I began to enjoy my lessons more. I started to put in more efforts in my assignments. I started to see, that outshining in my academics was a way of extracting myself from this nameless-ness, I had plunged myself in. And eventually I did!
I don’t even know if Mam Kuhad, knows of the difference she has made in my life. Or of the countless more that she must have met and taught in her years as a teacher. Cause I never gathered the courage to tell her. And that is my point. The reason for this trip down memory lane. Teachers are often not aware of the power they have over their student’s lives, their psyches and personalities. With a small little gesture they can change the course of young lives. Make or break them. Most of the teachers I have had are smarter and more sincere than the local business tycoons or petty politicians I see around me. Being a teacher in India is not a very lucrative job. And yet they do it! With joy and dedication! And me and millions like me are eternally grateful! Thank-you dear teachers for everything! In student speak “You Rock!”
Do you have any “Special Teacher” memory, you’d like to share?
September 5th is celebrated as Teachers day in India. I had written this post same time last year. Thought it was worth re-posting :)
PS: A happy coincidence associated with this post, that I would like to share with all of you. As I said here, one of my biggest regrets was, that I had never been able to tell Mam Kuhad of the special way she had touched my life. One day, about 7 months back, I got a friend request from her on facebook. It unraveled, that a student of hers had read this post. Though he didn’t know me, or exactly which Mam Kuhad I was writing about. He correctly assumed it was meant for her and forwarded her a link! The power of assumptions and internet :)