I moved about the alumni meet, a nod here a hello there. It feels good that your students have done well. Yes, that day I was proud. Proud that in some way I had been able to help these young men and women.
A young woman just came a nd hugged me, ‘Meghana’. I said. How did you know it is me’, she said, moving back and looking at my face.
‘Because you were the only one who were not afraid of the strict Mrs. Koshy.’ I said with a smile. Also if I remember correctly the whole of fifth grade you were in tears and would hug me every other minute.’
‘And that was because I was shifted to a new school in the middle of the school year….Otherwise crying and me……nah’, she said with a twinkle in her eye.
‘Tell me what are you doing now’, I asked
‘Oh me, I am a mom, a wife, a daughter …..’, she went on saying
‘Career?’, I asked.
‘I used to work in IT but then quit. The stress was just not worth it’, she said with a smile.
I patted her affectionately. Meghana had always been like that. Confident and clear. I always knew that she would follow her heart.
Have you met the others of my batch Arindam, Dilip. Swasti….’, she asked
I saw them but haven’t spoken yet’, I replied.
‘Come then’, she said, held my hand and took me where the others stood.
‘Teacher’, said Swasti
‘How are you Swasti’, I asked.
‘You remember ME’, she said in joy.
‘How can I not’, I said, ‘And moreover, I see you everyday in all the channels.
‘Huh’, grimaced Dilip
She beamed in joy. ‘You must be surprised to see me successful today isn’t it. Considering I was so hopeless in studies’.
I remembered all those years. Of Swasti failing in Maths, losing her books, not completing her homework.
‘Not really, I always knew you would be successful in your calling’, I said with a smile
‘Really’, she beamed.
‘How can you say that. I mean a ‘failure’ can be successful. And here are people like me who have to struggle throughout our life’, it was Dilip.
‘I said I knew she would be good in her calling and her calling was politics’, I said.
Dilip grunted, Meghana was uncomfortable, Swasti beamed, Arindam looked serene.
And you Arindam’, I asked.
‘Oh I am FCMA ie a Fellow of….’
‘CIMA’ I completed.
“Tell me teacher did you ever envisage that I would be an Accountant’, he asked.
‘I had thought that you would be…..spiritual’, I asked and stopped as I saw his jaw drop. ‘What happened’, I asked.
‘Accounting is something which i do to feed me and my family. The rest of my time I spend researching and lecturing on scriptures,’ he said, ‘but how did you know then’.
‘I knew’, I smiled. ‘You had this inherent quest. You were never satisfied with superficial knowledge. And look at you now the peace that I see in your face, I don’t see in anyones face’.
Arindam just bowed graciously.
‘That is the quality of a good teacher, she KNOWS her students’, chipped in Meghana.
Dilip just grunted.
And so Meghana took me to one and all. The last one was Dilip. When I came to meet him, Meghana left me saying that she did not like to be in the company of negative people.
Dilip just gave a wry smile.
‘So Dilip, what do you do for a living’, I asked.
‘I am a teacher’, he said
‘Oh so you are one of my kind’, I said
He just stood.
‘Why so much bitterness, Dilip?’, I asked.
‘I was good in studies Teacher. I had worked so hard throughout my life but what happened? I am a teacher today because my parents could not afford to put me for engineering or medical or any business school. And while that dimwit, cheater, manipulative Swasti is an MP today I am a teacher with a measly salary who has to take tuitions of rich kids to make ends meet’, he said emotionally.
He was right Swasti had been a cheater, manipulative. She was someone who had to be taught a lesson at least five times to understand.
‘Aren’t you happy to be a teacher. Isn’t it wonderful to touch so many young and fresh kids and help shape their future’, i said.
Dilip after his outburst had calmed down a lot. ‘It does Teacher but when you have to do a tightrope walk balancing the finances….’, he said.
‘You know Dilip, ultimately one becomes what he is good for and what he wants to do. Meghana was always a family person, Arindam always had this quest for perfection, Swasthi was manipulative and you, you were always good in teaching. I remember you used to help out everyone with Maths after school hours and all had got good marks.’ I said.
Dilip had visibly calmed down by now.
I continued., ‘Money, power can’t buy you peace or happiness Dilip but doing your job well, brings happiness in others’ life does’.
He nodded with a smile.
The felicitations started and we all moved towards the stage.
Many were felicitated that day and in the end my name was called. Dilip came on stage and it was announced that Dilip would do the honours, ‘from one teacher to another’
‘To a teacher who has been our guiding light’, he said while giving me the memento. ‘I hope I can be a guiding light to others, as you have been to us all’, he added in private with a smile that came from his heart.
As we all posed for a photograph, I felt at peace.
Picture courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblace to any person living or dead is inintentional.