Tuesday, April 23, 2013

OPINION: The Most Remarkable Teacher I Ever Had

Teacher and student, Khairat (India)
Teacher and student, Khairat (India) (Wikipedia)
by J Jacob Kotteckaly

Have you ever asked "what do you want to be?" to anybody who had been a teacher?

The answer will, most probably, be "a teacher again."

No other profession holds the satisfaction and dignity as that of a teacher.

I have also been a teacher in the early years of my career.

I consider it the most emotionally satisfying job I ever had. If it was not for the financial crunch, I would be a teacher to this day.

I have met many unforgettable teachers since my days as a student. This article is about one such teacher who has left an indelible mark on my mind.

I did my primary education at St. Francis Assisi School at Athani. Athani was, at that time, a suburban area that was slightly bigger than a village but smaller than a town. It is located at the Ernakulum district of Kerala. At that time, the school had classes only up to the seventh standard.

The school was unique in that every student had one thing in common. Nobody wanted to reach the seventh standard. The reason was that Sister Beatrice - whom all the students considered the most fearsome person on earth - taught Hindi in the seventh standard.

As it turned out, she was also the most loved person in the school. I did never understand how one person could become the most feared and the most loved until the week after the Friday on which I forgot my umbrella in the class.

Being the indolent student I was, I asked no one about the umbrella; it was gone anyway, why bother? It was the monsoon season, but I preferred walking in rain more than carrying an umbrella. Four days passed in the next week without any sign of my umbrella.

The Friday arrives, and, as usual, Sister Beatrice takes the last hour. The hour passes without any major calamities. We are waiting for the last bell to ring when, out of nowhere, I hear my name called out.

How do you feel when a thunder strikes in a classroom? Hearing a student's name called out loudly by Sister Beatrice is a similar experience. I rewind my brain to two seconds back to confirm. Yes, it is indeed my name. I stand up in my place. I see Sister Beatrice sitting in her table looking at me.

A cold shiver runs through my body. I cannot feel my legs; they are frozen. Sister Beatrice nods her head. I see the class looking at me with sympathy. Her nod is infamous; it means "I want you near my table."

An invisible hand must have picked me, moved me through the air, and landed me near the table as the next moment, I was standing near the table facing her. She moves her chair back and stands up.

"Did you forget something in the class?"
"... "
"Did you?"
"Y... y... yes"
"What was that?"
"... "
"What was that?"
"My ... my umbrella"
"Did you ask anybody about your umbrella?"
"N ... n ... no"

The teachers (including me) who are behaviourists expect a response for a stimulus. When they do not get it, they go mad.

The next thing I feel is that a strong hand holds my right hand and turns me around so that my back faces the class. I know what is coming and close my eyes. The cane makes an exhilarating noise as it moves in the air, not as much when it lands on my leg - once, twice, thrice.

After 2 minutes of silence, I open my eyes. I see the flaming eyes staring down at me from behind the glasses.

She asks me, "how can you let go of something so important so easily?" and hands me the umbrella.

The marks stayed on my legs for two weeks, but her words never went away from my ear. They echoed in my ear for a long time. Even now, when I need something and am reluctant to ask it to anybody, I hear the sound of the cane piercing the air followed by her words. They make me speak up, not keep my voice in my mind.

After I left the school, I saw Sister Beatrice only once. It was about two years later. I was in the tenth standard and was one of the best students in the school. I was representing my school for the science fair.

My old school was also participating in the fair. I along with two of my friends was walking down the long corridor when I saw Sister Beatrice coming towards us. I never imagined that I would be so happy to see her.

She talked to me for a brief period and then said, "bring your friends and help me take some plants from the backyard." We went with her and dug out all the plants that she needed. I offered to carry them to her stall.

She said with a smile, "No, Jaimon. It is fine." She took those plants in both hands, walked back to the long corridor, and slowly disappeared from my view. That was the last I saw of her.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=J_Jacob_Kotteckaly

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