I would waste time in niceties and small talk but you hardly ever respond, so there’s that. Anyway, so a strangely nice thing happened three days ago, when I started writing this post.
I remember sitting in a lot of college lectures, dozing off and wondering to myself in silent agony ‘Where in life is any of this ocean of information going to come to use for me?’ Yes, I’m a writer who was as ignorant and insufferable as that. Three days ago, at my job, which is hardly related to my college major, I found myself dealing with a question that needed a detailed answer from my syllabus. That’s when I had a very strong rush of nostalgia, humility and gratitude all at once for the ladies who spent hours blabbering on about the things we hardly listened to, testing us on them and making sure all of it stayed with us one way or another.
I called up my professor, Dr. Anita Rane Kothare, suddenly sorry that I hadn’t been one of the better students in her class and hadn’t given myself a chance to get inspired enough by her.
Now, here’s the great part about teachers. When your boss teaches you, he/she has a business to run or reporting to do to a higher authority, so in some ways it’s mandatory for them to see to it that the work is grasped and done by you. When your professors teach you, the only thing they have to gain from it is their salary, which they could frankly do without being half as invested as they are in it. Yet they spend lecture after lecture grilling into your understanding and memory a subject, the importance of which you won’t understand just yet, with such unbelievable patience and dedication.
Like Mrs. Rane Kothare for instance. One of the subjects she taught us was the art and architecture of ancient Indian eras. It was actually very interesting, but it was chunks of textbooks, a fortune of xerox notes from the library and hours of her dictating minute detail after minute detail. Not paying attention came so effortlessly, it was appallingly disrespectful on my part. Especially when whatever seeped into my brain from those many efforts on her part is exactly what came to my rescue three days ago. What’s more? When I called her, she accepted my gratitude and helped me confirm what I knew from her without the slightest bit of reluctance, gloating or anything at all for not having paid attention in her classes. And then she went on to tell me how proud she was of where I had ended up and how happy she was for me. Now, there’s the great part about teachers. They really have nothing to gain in return. Gratitude, which isn’t exactly a tangible or concrete gain, also might or might not always come their way.
In succession, I called up one of my favorite professors from college, Mrs. Asha Naithani Dayama to thank her as well for inspiring me. I dialed her number from memory and hoped it wouldn’t be anyone else on the other end, which made me realize how long I hadn’t spoken to her in. You would be surprised how easy it is to lose track of people who spent their precious hours shaping our lives. I mean, I think any teacher in our lives, by profession or otherwise, who helped us be the people we are deserves a bench-standing “O Captain! My Captain!” or cycling alongside their departing car.
This was followed by a call to my college counselor, Father Terry, who was more like our best friend and agony aunt in those five years of blacklists, heartbreak, friend troubles, intercollegiate festival and exam issues, and basically all things college. “You have only 143 staff members left to call.” he joked. But you know jokes apart those three conversations were among the most beautiful and heartwarming ones I’ve ever had in life so far. They made my day and in the end, I gained more from them than my teachers did, which again is the great part about teachers.
So, this post goes to all my teachers who spent their years molding the redeemable parts in me today. And that includes my current boss as well. I have come across bosses who will get their work done in different ways, but she is someone who never gives up on me even though my lapses and mistakes result in her losses. I’ve been an ungrateful and even unprofessional employee more than I’d want to admit. I’ve been irresponsible with my work, gloated about the times I was right and been defensive and bitchy about the times I was wrong. She simply sees what my passion means to me and struggles to bring out the best in me, which goes way beyond how much she need to do to get her business working. In a lot of ways, she is also my teacher, challenging and sharpening me, demanding and accepting nothing less than my best and never ceasing to sit on my head about it.
I think teachers in our lives, by profession and otherwise, are beyond compare. It could be family, friends, business or life partners, acquaintances, domestic help, God or anyone. And gratitude is the least that can be offered. So, I’m glad I had those conversations that I could tell you about. I hope that whenever we can or will, all of us give our teachers one tenth of the happiness that they made sure we knew how to get for ourselves. Bye for now, World.
PS – Some great books and movies about this that I know of are ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’, ‘To Sir, With Love’, ‘The Karate Kid’, ‘Dead Poets’ Society’, ‘Mona Lisa Smile’, ‘Good Will Hunting’ and ‘The Ramen Girl’. I personally love all of them.