Saturday, September 6, 2014


5th September-Teachers' Day in India. A day marked to commemorate an iconic academician in the history of India, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. All of us have a favourite teacher or more, from our childhood or academic life, who we remember with warm,fuzzy feelings because that's how they'd made us feel when we were their students. However, while we all overflow with chocolatey love for many of our teachers, there's also another fact that meets us squarely in the eye-the existence of the disgruntled teacher, who hates being in the profession and is there for any reason but the right one. The teacher who loves the bright, intelligent, confident and self-motivated student: the student who makes her/his professional life easy by being just them-perfect. The teacher whose wrath finds no mediators when it comes to the average, under-par, less than wonder-child kind of a pupil, and worse still, with the consistent under-achiever. 

No, I will not take away from the flavour of the day when everyone is feeling wonderful about teaching and the teacher-taught relationship. Instead, I want to dedicate this post to one of my teachers from school who, in a bitter-sour kind of a way, is the reason why I strove for a certain proficiency in English through my learning years. Yes, the teacher who loved every student whose diction bespoke of privileged high-society upbringing. And then there was me- from a mediocre, Punjabi-speaking family; whose parents' greatest dream for their children was a plush, convent education. So, one PTM day this teacher of mine told my parents in the most unpretentious manner that I did not belong to an English-speaking environment and that they should seek out a lesser-public school for me, where I would blend in better. It did-not matter if I was good at everything that I chose to learn. All that mattered was my inability to speak, understand and write well in English. I don't know how my parents felt about it then,but I for one, colloquially speaking, was mortally struck. That was the moment when I boarded the English high-ride, rather subconsciously, I'd say. So today, while I should be profusely thanking that teacher for the humiliation, my heart really doesn't.  While she may have been the starting -point of my journey, loss of faith in certain other beautiful things in life, was a huge price to pay. And irrevocable too.

As we celebrate the ideal teacher each year, I'm forced into thinking about several other students like me, who are humiliated by their teachers every day in the classroom, without anybody hearing the sound of that impact. Students who continue to believe that they can never be the best, because their teacher reminds them constantly and consistently about their shortfalls, in several visible and invisible ways. The under-achiever is nobody's favourite. The under-achiever may as well find a school that caters exclusively to losers. It's a happy day when the under-achiever remains absent from school because the only time they're missed  is when everyone needs a good laugh and the resource is missing.

Therefore today, to celebrate the teacher-taught relationship on Teachers' Day, here's something that a far-less-than-perfect pupil wants to say to.....whoever cares to listen:


If I were a tree
out there in the woods
stark different from
the orchard's; free
of the gardener's able hands
reared by moody, guileless winds
and the ageless, tireless bee
Would you let me be?

If I were a rose
thorny and wild
with unkempt petals
and restless leaves
different from the ones
raised skill fully
in your garden; and taught
to look like you
sway like you
for you
by you
would you be able to see
with non-myopic vision
my form, my spotless beauty?

If I were a puddle
of unholy water
mixed with grunge and slush
the drivers of sin
Would you,
like the preacher,
take me in your hands
and bring about
stillness, and clarity?

I ask you, teacher,
i seek, I plea
for the sake of our sanity
to take me as I were
and try not
to hold me 'gainst stronger light
to see the dark in me,
for the sake of posterity
love me for who I am
find, mould and nurture
the unseen,
the unnoticed
the undiscovered in me

for the world needs all kinds.
Words and acts blind,
only dole out one
much like another
but fail to add
to the multi-hued glory
of a rainbow's austerity.

I beg you, teacher
for the sake of eternity
let not education break me
but bring in balance
order and peace
first in my heart
and my soul
And that's how the world shall be
for the sake of world-harmony
O' let me be
and the Rumi in me
stay alive and free
so, let me be
Just let me be.

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