By Neeati Narayan, Assistant Editor, Lawctopus
I woke up at 9.45 am today. About 2 lectures too late but decided to not bunk the day entirely. I enter the lecture hall, trying to adjust in the pulsating student crowd and praying that the professor doesn’t notice me.
The class is singing to the tune of Happy Teacher’s Day and it strikes me then, ‘My Dear God, its effing Teacher’s Day’. To that effect, I am transported back to a fumbling, nervous avatar of me which persisted from nursery through preliminary grades and up to Class Sixth.
There are three major incidents which I remember clearly which are relevant to this day- this celebration of edification where we express our gratitude to the greatly unappreciated yet phenomenally important pillars of society.
The Slap by the Hindi Teacher
My mother was (and still is) my Hindi teacher in Grade Three. I was newly admitted to this fancy school and was having a great time. However, people used to think that I had it easy since my very own mother was my Hindi teacher!
I would like to make it clear that my mother used to undertake several counter measures to repel such misplaced rumour – My papers were corrected by other teachers, my oral assessment was conducted before some other faculty.
So one day, it was Hindi class and I had forgotten my notebook back at home (Courtesy- My very own mother who was testing my Vocabulary). Co-incidentally that very day, mother was establishing who had or had not brought their notebooks.
Imagine my horror when I learnt that I was the only ‘ugly duckling’ in the class who had come unprepared. My mother beckoned me to come to the front of the class. I went there, apprehending a light scolding and nothing beyond that. She stared at me for two minutes and without any warning, slapped me hard!
The whole class gasped and then, there was nothing but silence. I could obviously not see for myself but I knew that the raw emotion of betrayal was plastered all across the vicinity of my face. My mother looked away and resumed her lecture. I trudged back to my seat and sat, bewildered and hurt.
I was reminded, in that instant, that I was a student before I was her daughter within the physical boundaries of school. Of course my mother profusely apologised to me once we reached home (And I being the awesome devil I was, extracted two favourite meals for this discourse on her part).
However, this little incident changed my entire perspective towards school and life – You are never above and beyond others.
The Bread Winner
What I am about to write next is not exactly an incident. It was an ongoing thing which till today, serves as a continuous eye-opener for me. My father received his law degree 5 years AFTER I was born.
Before that, he was pretty much unemployed with random odd jobs at his discretion. My mother was essentially the breadwinner for the family during these years. She used to teach in whichever school I used to study as it had a two point benefit – She earned money and I got free education.
The monetary situation was extremely tight during those days and I clearly remember my mother waking up at five, cleaning the house, cooking food, rushing to school to step into the shoes of an efficient teacher, run back home, serve lunch to the joint family and get back to the housewife chores. Because, guess what? We could not not afford a maid to do the ‘housework’ during those days.
Maybe, this ode should go in the Mother’s Day column but I was witness to the fact that she was (and still is) a brilliant teacher as much as she was an efficient homemaker. This phase also taught me that one has to work, really hard, to achieve anything in life. Of course, life became posh-er and better once Dad started practising law, but to this day, I do not forget the old days.
The third incident took place when I was in the Sixth Grade. I was not a very confident speaker during that phase. I was very introvert, shy and used to stutter periodically. Books and books alone were my friends and all my free time was utilised in reading and writing (which I am thankful for as my vocabulary and reading speed really thrived).
I was extremely close to my English teacher, Mrs. Jaya Chouhan, as she deemed me to be one of her better students. She was a bright and cheerful lady who always saw the best in anybody.
She coaxed me into training myself for overcoming the minor speech impediments I faced all that time. She personally taught me the art of simple debating and inspired me to sign up for the internal debate competition.
I enrolled in the debate and though I was practically sweating during the rounds, I managed to attain the 2nd position in that competition. After that day, I never looked back and went on to establish myself in external oratory competitions.
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Jaya Ma’am for truly believing in the fact that a scared and fidgety child could get over her fears and become what she is today. This transformation was a personal miracle for which I can’t thank you enough and I hope that you continue to inspire other reluctant kids to discover more and more of themselves.
Becoming an academician is not an easy job. Handling class tantrums, responding to the management, achieving deadlines and striving to create an independent image for oneself – it is a journey of struggle and hard work.
And we at Lawctopus truly respect that.
We are celebrating the Teacher’s Day by giving two Rs. 2500 prizes to the best write-ups. Anyone can participate except NEEATI NARAYAN. Details are here.