Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Great Expectations: The Teacher & His Book

By Sunaina Patnaik at Tuesday, September 30, 2014

“There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can't move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.” 

― Robert Frost

This post was meant to be updated during Teachers Day but it was lingering in my head since a long time. It got delayed. Nevertheless, I am out with it.

You remember all those amazing school days? The incredibly pure days when a bar of chocolate, or a game of Uno with your friends in the colony gave you happiness that a pair of Charles & Keith shoes too cannot.

So, as a child, I had to hop from one city to another, one school to another quite often owing to my father's career. I hated it. I was always the new girl in the school, and there were times I felt like an outsider. Right from my language, to food, everything was different. I was always that weird, and probably geeky South Indian who could not connect well with the East Indians. I was always that strange child who preferred math over socializing with fellow classmates.

But then, I am also glad that I hopped from one school to another. Because, I have made many friends, and have a fair understanding of various languages now.

My family and I shifted to Hyderabad when I was a twelve year old girl. Surprisingly, I was still an outsider, here. As a person who could not decipher or write Telugu, I had a tough time making friends, and explaining people that I was a South Indian. I was. I just grew up in different places. As days went on, I made friends and all that, but you know what my problem was with the school? It had no library, it had no physical activity sessions. It was an utterly boring place to be in, and while my grades were always high, I was never happy with any of it.

The next year, I had this absolutely brilliant teacher for English called Murthy. At first sight, you might take him as just another grumpy old man who would strangle you to death if you were a naughty child, but he was anything but grumpy. He was happier than any of us; he dreamt higher than any of us. He always dressed in black and white, and on odd days, we would see him in blues and greens. He was fairly old. Say around, 70 years? I am not sure. But I still remember that I didn't want to miss any of his classes. Ever. I loved his lectures beyond anything. He had an aura that spoke volumes of his experience; and his flair at weaving and narrating stories was beautiful.

He taught us The Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. This is one book I go back to, time and again. I have lived with this book ever since ever, and let alone talking about it, I do not even like sharing the lines from it with anyone because I am so possessive about it that I feel like I am sharing a part of myself with them. You can call it ridiculous, but that is how this book has always worked with me.

With Murthy sir, this book was treated with an entirely different perspective. A story, that I would like to save for later.

There were many teachers before him, and there have been many teachers after him. Teachers I do not remember, teachers I doted on, teachers that made me hate Physics, teachers that ended up late for every session-basically, teachers who didn't leave a mark in my life like Murthy sir did.

I do not know if my stay in the school would have been the same without him; I do not know if my love for Literature would have been this strong without his stories; I am not sure if I would have written anything at all after my seventh grade if he stopped nudging me. Relentlessly. I would have been clueless about the beauty of words, and the sorcery of Ruskin Bond's work. I would have been just a person who took no interest in art, and I shudder to think of a life like that. And much to my chagrin, my Grammar would have been pretty horrible if he wasn't there in school, explaining me the difference between its and it's, patiently, and sometimes, quite impatiently.

I wouldn't even know if I would have read all the classics if he wasn't my teacher for his classes were always about great stories, good Literature, dreams, and many more.

I do not know where he is now, what he is reading now. I do not know who is being admonished by him right now. But if I really could, I wish I could sit down with him, and talk to him about all the grammar issues he found with the teenagers, I would love to ask him if the teenagers are getting any better. I would love to ask him, if he has ever considered writing down the stories of his adventures.

If only I could see him and tell him that he is loved, and whatever I am right now, I'd owe a major part of it to him. Bits and pieces, and everything!


saichandra sv on 21 Oct 2014, 12:24:00 said...

Just a cool blog �� I am actually njoying this ..... Lucky champ you're into literature

saichandra sv on 21 Oct 2014, 12:25:00 said...

Hope u have long way ahead

Sunaina Patnaik on 21 Oct 2014, 22:39:00 said...

@Sai Chandra: Thank you.


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