Arindam, Editor-in-Chief of Different Truths (DT), pays his homage to an exemplary teacher that he met during a train journey, many moons ago. He thanks, Anumita Chatterjee Roy, Managing Editor, for her advice about this special feature on Teachers’ Day, other than the splendid special feature logo (just above the intros in all articles) and the imaginative layout. He also thanks all the authors and poet who made this issue possible. They had very little time. Big thanks to all DTians, spread all over the world, its patrons and readers too.
I began my journalism career in 1981, in Bombay – it wasn’t Mumbai then. I recall a train journey between Bombay and Pune, around that time. An elderly gent sat in the chair car, beside me.
Soon, we were talking. He was a retired principal of a well-known Marathi medium school in Pune. Sadly, I do not remember the name of the elderly person or the school. But, I clearly remember what he told me.
When asked to recount one of the most interesting experiences of his, he smiled – in fact, his eyes twinkled and smiled, which lit up his beatific face. Despite his wrinkles, he smiled like a child.
He said that the school was known for its strict discipline. And every year, the toppers of the Maharashtra Board were from that school. But, there was one boy, in class VI, who managed to run away from the school, frequently. Everyone was worried about it. No amount of reasoning, warnings or punishments worked.
The principal was very amused and amidst smiles and laughter continued that his father was a top cop in the city. Two or three policemen were sent to keep vigil. The boy still managed to escape. His class teacher brought this boy to the principal. The constables were seated outside the main gate. He summoned them and instructed that the boy’s father should see him in person the next day.
A tall smart police officer politely asked permission to enter the principal’s office. He was accompanied by his wife. The police officer kept looking at the principal and touched his feet. The cop said that he was his student, many years ago.
On seeing his old student, the principal told him, “Now I know why your son runs away.” The top cop was perplexed. He added that if he truly wanted to solve the problem, he should give his son ‘good food’.
The police officer said that he and his wife ensured that their son ate good and healthy food. They gave him fruits, milk, almonds, eggs, fish, etc.
The principal told him, “No, not these. But ‘good food’ is what he needs.” When his old student failed to understand, he told him, “Even if you give him dry rotis and salt, it’ll be fine, as long as it was ‘good food’.” He told the top cop, “I mean food bought with honest, good money. That is ‘good food’. When a child eats the delicacies bought with dishonest money, they learn wrong things. They also learn to lie, cheat, etc. Good food is the food bought with good money.”
His student hung his head in shame. The solution, his teacher had told him, was very simple.
I was speechless. I too touched his feet for giving me a mantra for life.
We meet exemplary teachers accidentally. It’s serendipity.
On Teachers’ Day, I once again bow to a great teacher, I met on a train, many moons ago.
On the occasion of Teachers’ Day, we at Different Truths decided almost suddenly to bring out a special feature, as our tribute to all great teachers who have shown us the light – and continue to do so.
We begin the special feature with Shernaz Wadia’s In Reverence. An inspiring tribute to all teachers by Shernaz, as part of the special feature. She talks about exemplary teachers, from a child to those who dedicated their lives, while on jobs or post retirement.
A teacher not only imparts gyan or information but also imparts knowledge and life skills to the student. It is said that a teacher is a motivator, an influencer, a role model for some and an icon to be emulated by others, opines Navodita Pande, in her article, A True Teacher is a Beacon of Light, Dispelling Darkness of Ignorance.
Ankita Sharma interviews a cheerful teacher, Meenu Kaushal, for Different Truths, in A Child Needs Love, Faith and a Teacher has to become a Child.
Soumya Mukherjee pens a beautiful story, The Story of a Boy Going to School. He tells us about the ordeals of going to school, as a little child, replete with black humour. In a sense, he reminds us of Rabindranath Tagore’s aversion to school and how his father ensured that he was imparted education at home instead.
All of us in Different Truths, pay our tributes to our parents (our first teachers), our neighbours, kith and kin and all our teachers, who shaped us.
Happy Teachers’ Day!
Photos from the Internet
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