Today the time seems to be running but back then in school it was as if time never flew by and I ruefully thought how many more years I had to slog like this. Those were the days when schools worked all 6 days unlike today where kids are at par with their techie parents who hang up that bag on Friday.
Talking of school makes one go nostalgic slipping in the memories of yesterday, yes school memories always feels like yesterday. I am sure most of us held our own prejudices and favorites among teachers. Who does not remember that brash wide eyed teacher who haunted you even in your dreams? Although there were many easy going teachers we often tend to remember the tough ones. But we forget that these tough teachers have brought discipline in us, they have taught us to cope with tough situations of life in the most pragmatic way. It is a realization now but back then we simply despised them. It is somewhat fashionable in the adolescent years to hate teachers and ridicule the hard headed.
I had one such teacher who was the typical stereotype strict, highly principled, shrewd, skeptical, eagle eyed about all our activities, Ms.Pramila our head mistress who taught us English. Needless to say most headmistresses of those days were experienced and old like Voldemort from Harry Potter who watched us kids with a microscope when around and a telescope when away.
She stood behind the windows, outside the closed classrooms eavesdropping to check if classes were well conducted or not, at times when we were not alert enough we would be acutely shocked to find her sitting in the last bench among us in the sheep class. I must confess we fondly called her ‘Hale Machine’ behind her back. (‘Hale’ in kannada means ‘old’).
She had one of those unusual ballerina abilities to stand on her toes and stamp her feet even as she locked her hands at the back standing authoritatively whenever she addressed the class or made a point or took a stance. And this was the butt of every joke amongst us but I secretly admired her and her vast knowledge forced me to respect her. She was not only well qualified who had a strong hold on her subject but also had an innate ability of taking stock of things with great ease.
Getting respect from an adolescent who has just entered teens is a very cruel task for every teacher but she was a wise lady who was on a mission to accomplish discipline in our lives by all ways. She resorted to mild and wild ways but only with words, words that often made an impact on us. She believed it was her responsibility to get the better out of us and was genuinely concerned. And this attitude of hers made the difference.
She cut sophisticated jokes, smiled rarely, vehemently pointed our grammatical mistakes, read every essay carefully and personally complimented the deserving she was never late and never remained absent, she was a perfectionist. She was considerate and moderate in her approach to tackle issues but cracked the whip when she had to at the right time.
We had once sent her an anonymous letter asking her to expel the physics teacher as he was no good. The next day she announced in the class that she had received a letter and paused… visually scanning everybody for a long time and we panicked. She called groups of students separately and asked them how well they understood physics. That whole week she took our science notebooks/answer sheets home. We wondered if she was analyzing the English usage pattern in that letter as we had typed it. We had mentally prepared ourselves for the worst.
The following week it was announced that the physics teacher didn’t work with the school anymore. We had to pinch ourselves to believe it.
She had checked the answer sheets to figure out if we had understood the concepts by looking at our answers. From that day we held her in such high esteem that we toiled hard at studies as if to gratify her as if we owed her something because she had believed in us kids. It is really hard to find such people who simply take things at face value.
We passed out 10th standard in flying colors and raced into the colleges. College was like an ocean I never met anybody as genuine and as concerned as her.
To me she was an iron lady who tirelessly spent her time trying to inculcate values in our lives not to forget that addiction she inflicted into us to vehemently pursue grammar and get better at our English each day.
Today in that very place where she once used to live stands a mall with all glitter and glamor each time I pass that road I pause and turn to see only to invite the ire of many honking cars.
I owe my humble gratitude and respect to her and hope there aren’t any grammatical mistakes in this post.