In these days when you hear of teachers beating their students to death almost, I think with gratitude and love of my teachers, who were maybe not GREAT, all of them, but some of them certainly left their mark on me and several others who passed through their classes.
Starting with class I, there was Ms. Colleen, my class teacher. An Anglo-Indian, she was dark and pretty and vivacious, and I adored her! The feeling was reciprocated and I was one of her favourites, seated on the front bench. Till one day, she caught me peeking at her white panties, up her dress. (I still remember the colour!) She crossed her legs, only to give me a better view! She then joined her legs primly and turned them the other way from one pair of inquisitive eyes, and smiled at me and said, 'Naughty girl!" She would come and visit even me when I passed on into the second standard...She got married and left soon after, but years later, she came back, when I was in the ninth or tenth. Don't think she remembered me as the girl who peeked, and was glad for it. I however remembered my adored one.
There was Mrs. Violet, my class teacher in the third, who was so very particular about how the v's and the w's had to be pronounced. To this day, when reading stories to Sonny boy, I remember her and I make a perfect round for the w's. (Hmmm, these days I also think of a certain Moppet, when rounding my lips into a perfect O)
Miss Anne was another who was very particular about the English language. She it was who used to give five stars as treats for students who used to do well in her class. Gave 'carrot and stick' a whole new meaning, she did. And she was always dressed so smartly and elegantly.Not a hair out of place, and perfectly creased skirts and blouses.... I wish I had half her poise and charm....
I have mentioned Mrs. Gopalan in an earlier post. She was taken aback and delighted to know that one of the 'dunces' from her class actually went on to do her graduation in Chemistry. After all, all those lines had to come in useful, didn't they?
And then, there was Mrs. Mariamma, who took away just 1/2 a mark from my answer sheet in one test, and praised me so much I can never forget it. It was in History of all subjects, but apparently, I had mentioned ALL the points and she so stressed on points, points, points.....esp as we were going to be facing our board exams the next year.
After all that goodwill, she got terribly upset with me when I sang a parody in the school festival. It was about a faithless boyfriend who if his girlfriend couldn't accompany him to the cinema, was quite happy to have the younger sister of his girlfriend accompany him. The younger sister's name was Mariyamma, and the school went wild when I sang it. Unfortunately, she didn't appreciate the humour then and gave me a lecture on how she expected a class leader to set better standards. Later, she forgave me.
There was Pavithran Mashu. He was not a teacher at school, but I went to him for Maths tuition in the ninth. He turned all my ideas of doing math on its head. Given a problem, he would start with the solution, and then work backwards. Perfect modus operandi for life too, but there are no teachers as good as him to learn from. He was also my neighbour, and I was in awe of him. Incidentally, I scored the highest in class in Maths during the period I learnt from him, which sadly was for just a year. He is no more now, God bless his soul.
Coming to college, there was Prasenna teacher. She was one of the most liked, respected teachers, who went on to become the Head of the Department, but to this date (she's retired now) she continues being called Prasenna teacher. There's humility for you. Actually, more than Mrs. Gop, it was she who was instrumental in my taking up Chemistry. She wore such gorgeous saris, and we used to never see her wear the same sari in less than 6 months. Quite a collection!
Then there was Prof. Bose, who despite the students booing and teasing and calling him all sorts of names, stuck to his love for the language, and taught well, the ones who were interested. I wish I'd had him for my teacher when I DID take up Eglish literature as my main subject. It would have been a pleasure.
In University, there was Prof. R.Viswanathan. Nicknamed RV. Unbelievably knowledgeable. And unbelievably self-effacing with it. Quietly he would come to class and get me enraptured with his lectures. He it was, who made me appreciate what a world of difference criticism made to a work. Prof. Jaleel was another erudite person, who taught me to love the poets.
Looking back, I think that one common thing that marked all the good teachers, was their humility. The more they knew, the greater their humility.
And then, their desire to impart the love and fascination for their subject.
There were some of my teachers who were very knowledgeable perhaps, but did miserably at imparting that knowledge across to others. They failed to kindle that flame of curiosity that makes you want to go on and on...
I so hope and pray that Sonny boy's teachers in his early and later days kindle that spirit of curiosity, which makes learning such a pleasure and less of a chore.
And on this day, God bless teachers the world over with patience, love and forbearance.
4 days ago