Thursday, October 23, 2008


Good teachers are costly, but bad teachers cost more - Bob Talbert

In my case this adage rings true. There are people you want to forgive and then there are things that you want to forget; for me forgiveness happens in a second but to forget takes eternity and that eternity is nowhere in sight.

Let me take you back in time when I was a naive little eight year old ,a chubby, fair rather rotund eight year old with waist length hair who knew only Hindi and no other language. Survival in the South was tough where all the kids were burdened with ranks and glories of all kinds and that was a sharp contrast to my upbringing. I was a pahari girl who had bad handwriting and equally worse computing skills. To say that I found the sudden change from cold, laidback mountains to a bustling city was tough would be an understatement but being a child I was evolving, evolving rapidly. I learnt that when Ms.Lilliamma said "soon" she meant "fast" and not slow as I was thinking or rather wishing!And soon I transformed into someone who could converse in three languages with ease and who could write sooner than others, yet that way was not paved with roses; certain people did push me and this post is for them.

I have two genetic defects: I am very very absent minded and I am honest to the core. As a kid I loved watching movies on Mahatma Gandhi on Doordarshan and the elders in my family always used to impress upon me the importance of honesty. I still am honest to such a level that I cannot make a practical joke on anyone and these two defects have cost me dearly especially in my childhood. Mrs Seetha Bose was one teacher who detested me and to this day I do not know why. Detest? that too towards an eight year old? Well I feel that she hated me back then and made wonderful use of every opportunity to put me down. I still remember my seat in III 'C' where as a new student I was sitting oblivious to most of the talk that was happening around me. S.B had a wonderful way of humiliating students who had not submitted their home work (read home burden). All the notebooks were collected and kept on her desk while all the students stood up. As and when the names were called the students would sit down. I was standing tall and proud as I had neatly written and submitted my work. One by one all of them sat down but me. My hands went cold, how could this happen? Then it suddenly hit me, hit me like lightning I was waiting for Soumya Abraham!!! She was supposed to be my new BFF and I was waiting for her so that we could submit our work together and while the Class Leader was collecting everyone's notebooks I was making merry having totally forgotten that I had not made the submission! And in that second i zapped back into reality and took out the notebook and handed it over.
" You are a liar" she thundered across the silence.
I was clumsy, stupid and slow but there was one thing that I was not. I never lied.
On and on she went about me copying someone else's work and submitting late. I kept quiet and uttered the one word in English I knew right- "Sorry".

Next was the turn of Mrs.Hemambika. Everyone was to improve their handwritings so we were made to write atleast a page each day and those who did not were beaten on their knuckles with a wooden scale. I guess she picked up that habit from being a Scouts and Guides teacher. I was really scared of the beating so I tried hard to not be absent minded out there moreso because I used to find the beating horrenduous for where I came from only naughty boys were given whacks. I remember that day so clearly. In the assembly it was her day. The Scouts and Guide had a special programme, she was on stage and shouted onto the mic
"Kaiiisa lega"
"Achcha lega" (Scouts and Guides reply)
"How waas it"
" Fundaastic" (Scouts and Guides reply)

Light was pouring into the classroom exposing the dust flying around. Boys in the back bench were busy fighting each other while the girls were busy enquiring "edo thaan aa homework cheydo?" And then she breezed in. Little did our little ears know that we were about to hear the dialogue of a lifetime. As usual the ones who had not submitted the work were standing up and yours truly was one among them hoping for a miracle. And there was a miracle Soumya Abraham was standing up. Soumya- the first rank holder, Soumya- the class leader, Soumya- every teacher's hope, Soumya- most importantly, one of the High School teacher's daughter. Mrs.Hemambika approached the already in tears Soumya, who had never received a beating and enquired the reason which I'm sure was as valid as mine! What do adults think? Do they actually believe that if you tell a whole bunch of eight year olds something snide and nasty they will never remember it?? Well I do Ma'am and I remember it very very clearly.
You said with a smirk, " All of you are saved because Soumya has not done her homework".
Even today I cannot believe your audacity to say that infront of a whole class!!! And before I conclude my post on you let me Congratulate you for winning the Jawaharlal Nehru Best Teacher Award. If only Chacha knew..........

Susy Paul, Susy Paul....where do I begin? You were so beautiful. I still remember the fragrance of Fair& Lovely that emanated from you. I remember your beautiful Chiffon sarees and I remember your beautiful, beautiful smile. I hoped that you, I and Std. V 'C' would be a great mathematical team. I hoped that you would be able to help me with that thick Maths text that I so dreaded. I liked you until that day when Lija and I were standing for not having completed our homework. By the time you were done with the others Lija was smart enough to sit down but I did not want to be called a liar again so I was still standing. If only you had noticed that I had done my work, I had only forgotten to multiply 333 by 3 and so I missed 999 by just one step for which you beat my knuckles until they were red. Did you not see tears in my ten year old eyes or where you just upset because of your father's ill health or were you just fed up of dealing with your husband like your niece, my classmate Alsa told us later on? Whatever it was that you were dealing with, why did you take it out on me?? What wrong did I do to you? I never cursed you, I swear I never did but I am sorry that you were at one point battling Cancer. I hope you are better now.

Once I moved to middle school all of the above have been nice to me. Except Mrs Seetha Bose. Middle school and High school students never used to go to the Elementary levels, why I never knew until that day. I saw you walking towards the staff room. You were far yet I bowed my head meaning to wish you. When I came closer you yelled at me "Don't you have a tongue???"
Why me?? I had atleast bowed my head, my friend had not even bothered to wish you, yet you picked only on me! During exam time you picked on my again for not buckling my school shoe whereas your own son was wearing dirty Hawai chappal! Your own kids were around my age yet you never felt any emotion other than disgust towards me? I am not asking for love or empathy but couldn't you just ignore me???

FYI: Well, these are just the few negative incidents that happened,the rest of my school life was smooth.

More later...........


Gouri Nair said...

Hey... I loved this post of yours. You so truly portray the feelings in the mind of a little child. Well expressed I must say :)
Its so true, some teachers of elementary school rarely realise what goes through the minds of little kids. Teachers can play an immensely important role in shaping a child's mind, unfortunately, there are very few nowadays who realise the importance of the position they hold in the student's life. But those who are there never stop inspiring their students, I must say :)
Keep the good work going..

ranjit nair said...

Hi Psycho !
Nice write...I agree with what Gouri says. There is perhaps no job in this world which imbibes more responsibility than that of a teacher's. It becomes all the more important when it's in those initial formative years of the childs thought process.
The best ones I remember from my school days are one Pavani Miss in chennai who actually wrote down the answers with a pencil in my test notebook for one question I missed and went ahead to give me full marks for the test. She knew how much I cried the previous test when I couldn't score a full on full. (some kinda bujji I was in those days, but that good luck with marks didn't last too long anyways)
Another is Vijayakumar sir, who was my Geo teacher in mid school. He essentially is the inspiration who powers me to this day in catching up with as much of the worlds knowledge as I can...His quizzes outside of the subject, general studies ...the train journeys I took with him to attend quiz competitions...Those were the days ! :)
Hey, btw I too had written back in 2005 , a small post on my school days ..thought you might be interested

Pointblank said...

write smthg girl :)