Yesterday was Teachers’ Day. In my school days, the class would get together to honor the teacher. We would give them a rose, a piece of chocolate cake, and maybe convince them to take a well-deserved break from lessons and play some antakshari with us. It would be kind of like their day off.
I had a very good set of teachers, who were quite enthusiastic about teaching, and tried their best to make the subject more than some lessons to memorize. They made subjects fun to learn, and even though they were strict, they were kind when they needed to be. From them, I learned some qualities that have held me in good stead even years later.
I loved mathematics. I had a few teachers who made me fall in love with the subject. When I had a doubt, they would sit with me and patiently go through the steps, why that step made a difference to the final solution. The dance master would encourage me to try some steps even though I was a klutz with two left feet. Even if I stamped on her feet, she wouldn’t let me quit trying. I learned patience from them, and also compassion. They could have easily told me to do it myself, without taking the pains to explain. That kindness helped me to understand quicker.
“Believe in yourself when nobody else does.” – Mary J Blige
I was an introvert in school days. I preferred to keep to myself, and would spend even the Games class sitting in the library. My classmates would tease me then, but that only pushed me further into a shell. My sports instructor was a kind man. He told me to play, and do the best I could, instead of the best my teammates expected me to be. That belief in me helped build self-belief. I felt I could do better, so I tried harder. He told me to have fun, and I did. Slowly, some of my classmates started motivating me too. I learned to encourage rather than tease. Even now, I try to do the best I can, and more often than not, that is enough.
“Amongst the qualities a hero should have, I would include determination, loyalty, courage, perseverance, focus, patience, intrepidity, and selflessness.” – Ricky Martin
Sometimes, our class would be a little difficult to handle. One particular teacher was a little soft toward our class. That day, we bullied her more than we thought we would. She walked out of the classroom in tears. As unruly as we are, we also knew when we made the mistake. A few of us went and apologized to the madam, even gave her a hug, and requested her to come back. We didn’t think she would, and we even expected the principal to come punish us. But she came back five minutes later.
Looking back now, I can appreciate her more than I did that day. She showed us perseverance and commitment when she persisted with the lesson she was trying to make us understand earlier. It was courageous to face that same class that had hurt her feelings just a few minutes before. She was patient and gave us the second chance to make it up to her. Every class after that, she would come in more confidently. And she never lost her focus again after. She could have gone and complained to the principal, but she was selfless, and made sure we were ready for the exams. I still admire her for how she reacted that day, and I tell her so when I talk to her. She’s a hero, without a doubt.
“A teacher affects eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops.” – Henry Adams
Years after school, I still remember those qualities I learned from my tutors… patience, compassion, teaching self-belief or self-reliance, encouraging others, punctuality, perseverance, commitment, courage, confidence, focus, selflessness, loyalty. The list doesn’t end there. That really shows how a great teacher influences our lives. Most of us do appreciate them through the year, but it’s good that there’s a day to celebrate their importance too.
I’m thankful to so many such wonderful hearts that did just that and enriched my life. And I admire every teacher who continues to do that even today. There may be brilliant doctors or engineers making strides the world acknowledges. There may be authors who become internationally renowned. But behind each of their success would be an inspiring teacher.
(© Vinay Leo R. @ I Rhyme Without Reason,
3rd September, 2017)