A teacher’s bounden duty is to burn himself out like a candle while attempting to provide light for all those who come to him………. – PCN Sir, on Facebook
That sent me way back to my first English class and its master of ceremonies, GSP Sir. With GSP Sir, it was way different. He remained our dear English teacher admired and loved by all. With his kindness and care he commanded each one’s admiration and introduced them to the wonders of knowledge, dreams and fantasy. He was also our dear House Master. As I recollect now, most of the times I used to draw a blank on being quizzed on my lessons in the class.
However I remember clearly this one occasion in the house study room while concluding the daily roll call on a Saturday evening he enquired ” Who is this? The one who had not deposited with me the weekly letter home?” And before anyone could react I threw up my hands and said ” Sir, ummm, that would be me”. And finding no company there I felt strange and quickly put my hands down. But not without leaving me drenched in complete surprise ! My House Master quickly dismissed the roll call and withdrew to his room upstairs.
This one-man show of mine some how could cut no ice with house prefect Kurian Antony who called me over the next day morning and imposed on me to write 100 times in that ‘no copy paste’ era, words to the effect that would reflect my commitment to never ever repeat the crime I committed. So, on a fateful Sunday morning, I occupied my place in seclusion by the culvert next to the open expanse, underneath a shady cashew nut tree, and set out on my mission of hitting my maiden century.
I was both weeping and scribbling quick when the all caring House Master reached me unannounced. To his concerned query, I replied, still in tears ” Sir, I am writing a story.” He saw my teary eyes, nodded approvingly with a gentle smile at the intense whipped up passion of a budding writer and whispered ” When the mind starts speaking, my boy, you just cannot put your pen down. You go on son, go write a beautiful story and show it to me by noon.” Bummer! caught between the Devil and the House Master, I went on to finish the imposition first and scribbled on a paper my first ever written story ever, not considering the oral ones which we feed to the teachers on a daily basis as an explanation for the incomplete home work.
My story revolved around a certain quick witted protagonist, a crow, faced with this life threatening challenge of sourcing a beakful of water from the traces left in the deep, dark bottom of a pot – failing which, he fears that his furry head might crack open and wither away! So, you see, this cashew nut tree episode somehow put me in league with the all times greats.
Buddha got ‘it’ under a Peepal tree.
Newton, an Apple tree
Me, I just figured Cashew would do just fine !
Now, GSP Sir goes through the story, folds it up nicely, and returns it to me. Even while encouraging me to write on a customary note, the pain of having had to reflect on his observations on the write up was evident from his grimace. He summed with the finality of a surgeon who has decided upon delivering the news to the prospective amputee personally, ” You people think in Malayalam and write in English. So stop thinking in Malayalam and please think in English, while you write English in future “. Like a true disciple, all these years, I have been practicing this instruction from my respected teacher and I am sanguine that I have almost come half way through i.e I can stop thinking while at it !
And I am glad when, at times when life throws up instances to validate my attained ability, with many a kind comments from my friends. The most encouraging of all which I heard the other day. My long lost friend traced me out after decades and showered on me comments that left me elated. He asked, ” Bugger, when will you stop writing ? ” He was kind enough having spared my ancestry from the adjectives, unlike all others. There, was validation, again.
As they say, the best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book. GSP Sir was one.