Sep 5, 2008
When little kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up, most would blurt out ‘doctor’ without a miniscule of second thought. Some would say engineer or think of some extraordinary professions (my little niece wanted to become a zoo keeper and another niece a salesgirl!). And though you will see them enact their teachers (shouting and scolding and beating an imaginary classroom), few kids would harbour a desire for the teaching profession.
Of course, that is not the ultimate truth. There are many whose ambition revolves around standing in front of a respectful class, with dignity, brimming with knowledge and having the power to mould young minds.
Kids love to enact their teachers – no sooner are they home from school than they take their long rulers and books and teach plants, walls or whatever they think could do for a class. I remember my granny chasing me for beating up all her precious plants in my enthusiasm to teach them how to count!! And that made my mother get me a box of chalk pieces and a portable black board. Needless to say, granny was greatly relieved, and for me it was equal to getting promoted.
Come September 5, it is time once again to celebrate and honour the noblest of professions. I personally believe that one should become a teacher only if one really has an insatiable thirst, an undying ambition and great respect for the profession. For being a teacher is not a menial job – it brings with it the immense responsibility of not just moulding young minds but also setting an example of oneself for the impressionist youth to follow. A good teacher can create wonders and pave the way for the future of the country, but a bad one can equally destroy both individual and in turn the society.
My purpose here is not to speak of those teachers who do not understand the basics of imparting education thereby depriving children of the advantages of good education, but of those who have shaped the lives of millions by making themselves the very epitome of righteousness and knowledge.
My own school life revolved around teachers as much as it did around my friends. It has been years since I passed out of Besant English School where I studied from first to tenth standard, but their memories are fresh as a daisy. In primary, I was, like my classmates, in awe of the tall headmistress – to us little kids she seemed more than six feet in height. A lady of great dignity and poise, she definitely left an indelible impression on my growing mind. To this day, I have not seen any lady more fitting for the role of headmistress.
The lady who succeeded her, and who, until recently held the office, is another of my favourite teachers. One of the sweetest of human beings, she taught us cute songs like ‘I lost my mango, what do I do?’ She taught us only one line of the song, the one I mention here, but its tune and simplicity make its unforgettable. I remember, during a science class, I asked her if we couldn’t go in to the outer space from under the earth rather than through the sky, for which she replied, ‘you can dig the earth and go.’ It was lovely being her student, and she was a favourite not just with me but the entire school.
Two other teachers of whom I cherish a fond memory are those who taught me during the transition from primary to high school. They were more like friends than teachers, and had even visited my home when I was sick for some days. With them I shared not only a great school life, but our correspondence continued through letters even after they were posted elsewhere. It was agony for me when they left, but their letters I preserve to this day. Incidentally, one of them taught Kannada, the subject I loathed the most, but I do not ever remember hating it when she taught me.
The teacher who was closest to me was a north-Indian who taught us for less than two years. She was a favourite of the entire class, more so because we felt her to be ‘one of our own.’ She would talk the way we did amongst our friends, tell us delightful stories and anecdotes from out of her own life, and kept us in good humour no matter how cloudy the day. I, in fact, even wrote an essay on her as a tribute when we finished school, and though it was rather childish, the essay delighted her, and that made it worth the effort.
Perhaps you may wonder why I have not named any of my teachers – no, it is not because I do not remember their names – that is impossible. By not mentioning names, my only endeavour is to pay my tribute not just to the individuals who made me what I am today, but to the entire teaching fraternity, for those truly blessed people who touch our lives in a way that etches a life-long impression that can never be erased with the flow of time.
Teachers, without you, the world would have ended a long time ago. Thank you for weaving the threads of society that make up the colourful fabric of knowledge, love and humanity the world clothes itself in.
Anisa Fathima - from 'Exclusive Archives'