I want to go back to my school days in Hyderabad where my siblings and I were admitted into a convent school near our house. The day would begin with a prayer after which our class teacher would check whether our shoes were polished and our nails were dirt free. We were strictly instructed to speak only in English by the nuns who ran the school.
My classmate, an Anglo-Indian boy, never did his homework and was always punished for it. So, one day, he found the easy way out by copying from my book, with the result both of us got punished by the ever vigilant teacher. Since then he learnt to be more regular and I had learnt a lesson.
When I joined college in Jamshedpur, our principal, Mrs. Mehta, a strict disciplinarian, was a terror to all of us students. We were overawed by her presence and sometimes would forget to wish her when she passed by us. Then she would literally stop us and throw a sarcastic look and would proceed only after we greeted her with a good morning which she reciprocated. Even now after decades of leaving college, as a teacher/trainer of communication skills, the habit of wishing people continues. Only difference is, I find students don’t wish me and even when I wish them first and wait for a while in anticipation of a return greeting or an acknowledgement, only a few bother to do so while others just giggle .
My English lecturer encouraged us to think on our own and write the answers in our own words and gave high marks for our originality. I owe it to her for whatever creative writing I am pursuing now.
After I came to Chennai, I have done a few part-time courses, which gave me an opportunity to meet teacher-journalists like the late S A Govindarajan and V. P. V Rajan who were strict with a smile. They motivated us students to try our hand at writing features /essays so that we could develop and practise the art. I am grateful to them for the personal interest they took in us. There are yet other teachers who haven’t taught me but who acted as my sounding board and were too willing to clear my doubts whenever I happened to approach them. They conform to my childhood image of a teacher – simple and unassuming, never wearing their learning on their sleeve, at the same time, ready to willingly share their knowledge.
n.meera raghavendra rao