So, you celebrated Independence Day, then threw the flags on the roadside alongwith the cloak of patriotism that you wore throughout the day; tied the Rakhi on Rakshabandhan and then threw away the thread in dustbin and alongwith it all affection and memories of your relationship; you have already swept clean your home temple of the decoration you did for Janmashtami, and with it washed away everything that the Lord taught and stood for. And now you are ready once again to celebrate yet another festival in line — Teachers’ Day, perhaps the only festival which is celebrated all over the country on a grand scale without any use of colours, crackers or controversies. We love our teachers, we hate our teachers, we love to hate our teachers.
It is always a complex relationship, without a single exception. I would not write about my favourite teacher, because anyhow it would be boring for you to read about any person who you are not familiar with. And neither is it a proper way to express my gratitude to her. If I really love her and want to thank her for all the change she brought to my life, it is better and more sensible to tell her in person, rather than shout to the whole world and write Facebook posts dedicated to her. Also, in my opinion, gratitude and love should always be expressed then and there itself; there is no point in shedding tears and telling people how much you owed to that person after he has left. Anyway, that is a different subject.
I am of the opinion that teachers are human beings, not gods. But what distinguishes them from others and raises them to the level of gods is their dedication and commitment to their profession. Doctor fails, one patient dies; police fails, order collapses; soldier fails, country is conquered. But when a teacher fails, the whole society and humanity collapses. They cannot afford to be slack in their duties. A lot more is at stake. A big portion of our day was spent in school, looking at our teachers, so we couldn’t help emulating them. No wonder, they took extra care to dress properly, speak sane language, and be careful lest any student gets wrong message from their behaviour.
It is important not to forget the lessons we have learnt. In my opinion, that is the greatest tribute you could give to your teacher. No, I do not mean moral education or spiritual sermon. I mean the actual subjects that you learnt from your teachers. The lectures on history, geography, languages, sciences. It is difficult, but not impossible. All that is required is to keep revising, refreshing, and continue learning. I agree that with time and growing age, several new responsibilities are forced upon you. Then come more demands and expectations, and also your own ambitions. You are left with so little time. Eventually, something falls off your mind, and you start forgetting. Afterall, there is so much to learn every day, and as a scientist, I should be studying optics and radiation instead of the Maurya dynasty, don’t you think so? But my friend, the subjects that I am talking about were taught to you only till 10th standard, and with that it was intended to impart you basic knowledge to appreciate and understand the world around us, current affairs, science, arts, literature, culture, sports. Everything. We can see anything, we can know anything, but we cannot appreciate its beauty without a basic knowledge of the science behind it, using the term science in a wider sense. Again and again I stress the point that being scientific does not imply playing around with test tubes. If you are aware of the scientific developments taking place around you, that would be sufficient enough. Same goes with arts and literature. You yourself need not make paintings, play music, dance, write novels. Instead, the purpose of education is to help you appreciate the beauty of any literary or artistic piece whenever you encounter one. Yes, appreciation is the word. And for that, it is very important not to forget what one has learnt.
Such occasions keep turning up in our daily lives. What is a chain reaction? Is bromide a cation or anion? Was Tughlaq a Mughal emperor? We had learnt them, and we forgot. And then we have to learn them again when we sit down to teach our children.
And the most important of all subjects is language. It is indeed unfortunate that a graduate, who has spent two decades in school and college, can’t write a single sentence free of mistakes. I do not imply English or any particular language. In fact, we often come across such indifference towards one’s mother language also. For history, science, geography, one could be excused as it is difficult to devote time for continued study of these subjects. However, language is one subject which we use on a routine basis. Not a single day passes when we do not have to read, write or speak in a particular language — the language which we learnt for exactly 12 years. When you make mistake, you let down your teacher who had made enormous effort to teach you how to write correct English or Hindi. You give the greatest tribute to her when you write in correct and error-free language, and show to her — Madam, see, I have not forgotten anything. I want to make it clear that I do not imply using a literary, flowery or fancy language. I do not imply literature. Instead, just correct and formal language.
Another related aspect is making mistakes, but not because one has forgotten the grammar lessons one had learnt in school; instead, just to look trendy and modern. In my personal opinion, that is the biggest insult they could throw on their teachers. Not only have they forgotten them, but also the lessons they had taught. Son, you had spent such a long time learning this language, your teachers had spent several hours teaching you this language, don’t let it go so easily.
I may not say anything verbally, but whenever I receive any message with mistakes, I am filled with disgust and annoyance. I consider it to be an insult directed at me, but even more at the teachers unknown to me and forgotten by them. There is no need to write long posts and tributes to teachers when you have already forgotten their lessons. On the other hand, if you could only show in your daily life that you haven’t forgotten anything, that itself would be a great tribute to them.
I dedicate this post to my teachers who taught me the language I speak —
Hindi: Mrs. Neerja Bajaj, Mrs. Manju Jain, Mrs. Sukumari Singh, Mr. Jugran.
English: Mrs. Mala Sharma, Mrs. Poonam Sharma, Mrs. Prabhakar.
Unfortunately I cannot recall the names of the teachers who had taught me from KG to 5th standard. They were the ones who gave me the first lessons.
And my first teacher, my Mother.