They say teachers are second mothers. We all grow up with cherished memories of one or more of our schoolteachers who made an impact on our life. I had at least half a dozen favourite teachers and one among them who stood out for me was Ms Celestine Vaz – my class teacher when I was in standard 4. This was in the year 1989, over 30 years ago. Thanks to a couple of factors this teacher remained a friend ever since I moved up from a class. So much so for the last 20 years after I left Mangalore, I have ensured I kept in touch with her throughout. I write this today as she retires from active service after having worked for close to 40 years at the St Aloysius School in Mangalore.

I want to share three things you instilled in me as a young boy aged nine that have helped me go places.

First of all – thank you teacher for having taught me so many things while I was in your class and also for the various things, I learnt from you in the course of the last many years. You ensured you took care of your students as if they were your own children and in doing that you taught us Kindness. In my interactions with people (in the unlikely event I am not blunt) andwhen someone finds me kind (it happens once in a way) and mentions that to me I think of you for instilling in me and so many others the art of caring for others.

Second, I remember excelling in elocution and essay writing while being part of your class and ensuring these two activities remained an integral part of my life. You helped me write better and speak better while in primary school. I thank you for being an important mentor to me early on. This along with the three Cs of communication that make me what I am as a professional that I learnt from my parents and teachers, you being an integral part of my early mentors who taught me – Clarity of thought, Creativity, Common sense.

Third, your passion and energy as a teacher were contagious making us young ones gain inspiration to be like you. I remember you being in charge of the Cubs. I remember you organising our class picnic. I remember you ensuring we all participated in the sports day as well as in skits, plays, dances and drams for the school day. For all this and more we remain grateful and I personally owe a great deal to you.

As we wish you well (and there are thousands of boys who have been blessed to have you as their teacher over the four decades) I want to do two things. Let others who read this know about nine other things that they can learn from your life.

Caring attitude (you have always shown a caring attitude)

Engaging elegantly (you have carried yourself with elegance)

Listening patiently (you are a patient listener)

Eveready to help (you are always willing to go that extra mile)

Strong pillar (you have been a source of strength to your colleagues, students and their parents)

Trustworthy guide (you instill a sense of trust in all those with whom your path crosses)

Intuitive Mind (you always displayed a sixth sense)

Noble style (your demeanor was always filled with grace and gumption)

Excellence always (you made us subtly learn that it is not only about doing the right things but about doing everything right)

As you move into the next chapter of your life dear Celestine teacher, we wish you well and hope you get time to pursue new interests and explore new avenues.