Friday, September 06, 2013

Happy Teacher's Day Saramma-saar!

Teachers Day. Well, it brings a lot of memories back on lazy ethereal wings. But one stands starkly in our mind as a defining moment, something we can't forget. We were born in Kerala and spent eight years of our life there. Those days kintergarten in Kerala meant squatting on the floor and writing on the sand spread before us, to the satisfaction of the cruel and sadistic old teacher. Homework was carved on palm leaves with a sharp instrument called "narayam." Woe to those who didn't do their homework, as punishment included beating with a stick and pinching with sand stuck to the teacher's fingers.

We were admitted to this class rather early, and naturally, we were one of the biggest malingerers around. Our mater, being a teacher of craft herself, thought starting early would be good. But we thought otherwise. We wanted to enjoy our life at home, lazing in the fields and looking at the bees. We felt school was a waste of our time. (From then till now we have not figured out what our school was meant for, except to pick up language skills. All our other classes and time were wasted on us, we still can vouch. Our education was mainly done by us, ourselves.) Our malingering would have got on our mamma's nerves as one day she decided enough was enough and took the matter into her hands. She escorted us with a stick, freshly cut from a bush, de-leafed and all, and then when she would turn back, thinking we were walking to school, we would turn back and walk towards her. Ruthless punishment would follow and the stick would be applied all over our body, rather mercilessly. The pain, we do feel, even now. This process of our walking ahead a little and turning back and being beaten would repeat several times, and, as many times we would get thrashed relentlessly. We cried, bitter tears, for mercy, but no mercy was shown by mother, with whom we kept a grudge all our lives for that incident.

Then as this process seemed a never-ending progression, along came Saramma-saar. She asked what was going on. When mother told her, she scolded her, hugged us, took us by the hand and with kind words of encouragement led us to school. From then on we had no fear of going to school, though we were not a very good student. It was just that act of kindness from our teacher that changed our attitude altogether to school and education. This incident underscores the need for teachers to be kind.

This teacher's day we remember Saramma-saar with fondness. Happy teacher's day Saramma-saar, wherever you are.

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