School days may be far behind us, but for most of us the memories are still vivid like it was yesterday. Teachers, needless to add, form a very special part of those memories. From the hard taskmasters focussed solely on making us learn to the more lenient ones who almost became friends – they all played a big role in shaping our sensibilities and our ability to move ahead in life.
And what better way to commemorate them than through a whistle stop tour down the memory lane recollecting episodes savoury and unsavoury that changed us for the better. So get ready to run down the school corridors once again in a throwback to times when mild corporal punishments were common, competition no-so-fierce, school bags not that heavy and flunking in an exam or two was just fine.
The no-nonsense physics teacher
Wednesday morning first class. In walked the ruler-toting physics teacher wearing a stern look and out flew my logical and analytical abilities. The two were inversely correlated. No amount of preparation the previous evening, last minute brush ups and exercise in trying to keep the mind calm and uncluttered worked. It was almost a doomsday scenario for me. The forty minutes just wouldn’t get over. Every second was excruciating as I frantically prayed to god to make me inconspicuous in a sea of white and blue school dress. But the teacher had a secret radar for sensing fear. Sooner or later a question would be directed as me and the grey matter in my left brain froze immediately. It only meant one thing – a rap on my palm and being shown the door. At the end of the day however her stringent methods were not in vain for I bagged an 88 percent in physics, chemistry and biology combined in school finals.
When the moral science teacher wasn’t exactly our salvation
Friday last class. Moral science was just the salvation we were seeking. Fifteen minutes of preachy or soul-searching talks later, the sister hooded in white and black asked us to put our heads down on the desks to rest our overworked minds. Heads we put down but resting our minds we did not. Instead we fidgeted, and chit chatted discreetly in that posture with our bench-mates or those near us. Being good natured and lenient, she let us as long as the noise was not overwhelming. Except on those rare occasions when she switched off the fans in summer afternoons while outside it was 40 degrees centigrade so that we could feel the pain of the underprivileged! Or when she took us out to see how the staff worked hard to keep the premises clean and green. Worse still when she made us visit the loo to show us how bad we were at keeping it clean!
The class teacher in fifth standard who was a big pile of love
Draped in saree with her oiled sleek hair neatly platted and unfailingly decorated with a small garland of fresh, fragrant jasmine flowers she entered the class. She taught us history, english and grammar and had a slight south Indian accent while speaking. Though not one of the most compelling teachers, we all loved her nonetheless. Encouraging yet firm, her motherly affections melted our hearts. Every morning sheepishly, I thrust a flower at her in eager anticipation of a warm smile and “thank you” in return. But the crowning moment was when she recommended a book to the whole class I had picked up from a local bookfair and passed on to her to read. It was some feat for me, a wide-eyed, skinny pre-teen then. How I loved telling it to my granny, who with all the time on hand lapped it up every time.
The economics teacher who did not budge half a mark to make me pass the class test
She was against mugging up. Intelligent, systematic learning is what she advocated. So when I put too much of a thrust on memorizing every line of the first four chapters and forgot three-fourths of it in a class test, the inevitable happened. I flunked. Half a mark more was all I needed to pass. No amount of pleading helped. The teacher stuck to her guns and it costed me more than just a few tears. Damage to image and a good dose scolding from parents after school. But that was also the last time I failed the economics test. The jolt was absolutely necessary for me to learn the tricks of the trade. Next class test, I clinched the second highest marks and from then onwards there was no looking back. The economics teacher turned out to be my favourite in time.