Srivatsav Sir came into the class. Half of us rose, the other half continued whatever they were doing. He didn’t mind the distractors. Put the papers on the table and said, ‘Namaskar’. Srivatsav Sir taught us Hindi.
Then he took out the first paper from the bundle and asked who is —. It was my roll number. I raised my hand. I was sure that I had failed. ‘AAP?’, he asked. I nodded a yes. In shock he continued in HIndi, ‘You have scored the highest’, I looked on. Half surprised, half in shock.
We speak Konkani at home. I had never been a very friendly person that my language could have improved by speaking to friends. And here was I being told that I had scored the highest. It was a shock.
It was the first term exams of the 11th standard. We were all experiencing freedom. 11th -12th were not so strict classes. We were expected to be responsible. If you did good it was good for you. If you didn’t then too you were responsible. I was liking it. Nobody saw to it that you paid attention in class. And if the class was boring you could bunk too provided you didn’t fall short in attendance.
I was having a gala time. Sitting in the last row. I could either pay attention to what the teacher was saying. write something silly or simple dream away.
And now Srivatsav Sir looked at me, I stared back until I could not keep my gaze steady and hung my head in shame. Why in shame, you may ask. Because I knew my conduct was not right.
Then he said,’ Sit down’ and then continued with the term papers.
The class finished and he asked me to follow him. My legs felt like lead and I dragged them out. He could have advised me in the class. He could have screamed at me in the staffroom. He didn’t do either. He spoke to me in the corridor. He didn’t want to embarrass me or insult me.He didn’t say much, just that (in Hindi), ‘Without studying or paying attention you have got such good marks, just imagine if you had done both what would have happened’ And then as an afterthought, ‘You are betraying both yourself as well as your parents’.
Now that hurt. A lot.
After the tenth standard results were out. My school said that I was fit for PCMC ( Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Computer Science). My mother had contacted the best Maths teacher in town for Maths tuition for IIT entrance. Her only dream had been that one of her kids should be an IITan. And what did I do. I took commerce and had changed schools.
But did they scream at me or discourage me. No, they didn’t. Instead my father started reading my books so that he could guide me.
And here was Srivatsay Sir telling me that I was fooling myself and my parents..
That remark changed me. I knew that I had to take charge of myself. I could not let down my Parents trust.
So the back bencher started sitting ahead. I knew if I sat in the same place, I might slip again.
No, I didn’t top the Boards. Nor was I a success in whatever I did later in my life. But I learned to be responsible for myself.
Srivatsay Sir and myself shared a beautiful relationship henceforth. Even after I went to Mysore and Warangal I used to write long letters to him about what all I did, my achievements and failures. And every time he replied back. Each of his letters were like jewels. And I treasured each one of them. Until constant shifting of places, made me lose them. Life too became hectic and slowly I topped writing to him.
You may say why I am writing this now. Teacher’s Day is still far away. But Jas’s post at Rachna‘s evoked these memories. ( don’t ask me why. Her post is about our education system. And here I am telling about a teacher). About how a teacher transformed a dreamer/ a rebel to be true to herself and her parents.