This evening after dinner, I stroll across the IIM Ahmedabad campus where I am staying for three days. The campus has a modern architectural design, with all buildings having the appearance of a precise geometric shape. It is also immaculately maintained – neatly cut grass in all lawns and spotless clean roads and pathways. Like most others, this campus is also quiet in the evening, perhaps because the occupants are spread all over the vast expanse of many acres. Lights are on in some of the rooms in the students’ dormitories. Across, there is a fitness centre, and through the windows I see vigorous exercise in many forms – some walking on treadmills, others pumping iron. I see at a distance, a middle aged couple on a brisk walk after dinner. In all probability, one of them is a teacher.
Its been a while since I walked across a campus like this. Memories come flooding back. And foremost amongst my thoughts, is all the teachers who taught me, not only in College but in School.
Amongst those who come to mind are Mrs. Davis the class teacher in 2nd standard who bid farewell to all us 6 or 7 year olds with two toffees and a kiss on the cheek. She still remembers me, and wants to talk to me, and I am guilty of not calling her..
Then Mrs. Caprihan in the 3rd standard who, to an eight year old mind, seemed to be so pretty. Back home, I often take out from my well preserved class photographs, this particular one and re-affirm my belief that she was beautiful indeed. And I remember the times I went across to her home to play with her son and her equally pretty daughter.
The list is endless. But each name and face crystal clear. All my teachers from School and most in College have retired since. And some have crossed over to the other World. An entire life devoted to teaching hundreds of children. In primary school, less of teaching and more of managing little bundles of boundless energy and nuisance value. And the teacher tearing her hair apart in sheer exasperation.
Rushing from one class to another three floors above or below, at the stroke of the bell signalling the change of period. Piles of corrections, invariably carried back home, and dealt with in between household chores. Hndreds of examination answer sheets, yet each wrong answer painstakingly corrected and elaborated in red color. In the hopeless belief that the effort will be useful to the child who will read it. Shouting and sweating in the heat in class rooms, yet concentrating and making the children concentrate
Yet coming back the next day to relive the experience. Deriving immense satisfaction and selfless joy, seeing a whole class graduate to the next one. But only momentarily Then turning around to prepare to usher in the new set of boys and girls.
Such selfless devotion. And expecting nothing in return. Not from the student, not from the institution. The only reward in the form of a smile and a sense of immense satisfaction , on seeing their pupils growing up, moving from School and College, making a success out of their careers, and settling down.
I thank each one of them in my heart, as I return from my walk. For shaping me up into what I am today. And I promise myself to thank them in person when I meet them next. And to call up Mrs. Davis who wants to talk to me....