Friday, September 5, 2014

Thinking Of My Favourite Teacher

The moment I think 'teacher', several faces start rolling in front of my eyes. I believe our first schoolteacher is the first outsider who tries to teach something to us as a child; the first person outside the family who influences us and affects our lives.

I don't remember the teachers from the first school I attended. I don't remember the first teacher I encountered when I went Don Bosco High School (It is now Don Bosco Higher Secondary School), an institution where I spent eleven years of my molding period. But I do remember most of the teachers after the kindergarten years. Some were kind, some were strict, some were indifferent, some involved, some were eccentric and some were cynical. Of all of our teachers, we love some and we hate some, right!
 
There is one teacher who immediately comes to my mind when I think of my beloved school, Mrs. Dipti Singh. She taught us Science and Mathematics in high school. I believe she has been with the school since its inception years. And it has been thirteen years that I had left school. To me, she is synonymous with my school life. She is my answer to the question, "Who is your favourite teacher?"

Madam Dipti (She is actually an Assamese lady married to a Sikh) was our class teacher when I was in the seventh standard. She is the most kind and loving teacher I have ever known. You know how students get unruly and naughty in high school. But she was never harsh to any student. At least I had never seen her in that light. She was the most patient and soft-spoken woman. And of course she was thorough with the subjects she taught as well.

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~William Arthur Ward

Students are very cynical about their teachers. We used to criticize teachers' behaviour, personalities and teaching styles at the drop of the hat. We would mimic their peculiar mannerisms and crack jokes (Well, I believe all teachers know this). But Madam Dipti was one teacher about whom all students spoke with reverence and respect. I have never heard any of the students speaking about her with disrespect. All we could mimic about her was her kindness and calmness.

While in high school, I had become quite good in mathematics. And twice I scored the full hundred marks when Madam Dipti was teaching. She applauded me in her own way, by gifting me books on both the occasions with personal inscriptions. Being a bookworm since childhood, I was so happy. But I felt honoured more than anything. I still have the books in my maternal home.

In seventh or the eight standard, one of my friends had just learned pen calligraphy. She had special pens for the purpose. Once she brought her pens to school and the whole gang started giving her a notebook each so that she would inscribe our names on the same. Mine was the science notebook. The same day or a few days later, I don't exactly remember, we had to submit our science notebooks to Madam Dipti for corrections. When I got back my notebook, I was surprised to find my name inscribed in beautiful calligraphy, just below where my friend showed off her newly acquired talent. It was intricate handiwork with a simple ball-point pen. The calligraphy was in old English style I guess. My first reaction was surprise, wondering from where did it come from. Then I decided that Madam made it. I never thanked her or asked her about the inscription. I still don't understand why didn't I. Then it became too late in my opinion to say anything. Neither did she mention about it. So it was left at that.

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child. ~Carl Jung

A little while ago, I sent her a SMS wishing her a "Happy Teachers Day". She replied with a call back. Apart from me, she asked about my sister too. When I told her that I got married two years back, she asked about my husband. She advised that understanding is the main ingredient and wished us well. The last time I met her was three years ago in a wedding. It is amazing that after so many years and thousands of students, she remembers her students by name. I came to know that she had retired two years back. But the school authorities wanted her back and engaged her as the coordinator of junior school. I told her every student loves her immensely and she should be attached to the school as long as possible; that without her the school would not be the same.

In our lives, most of us had a teacher to whom we look up to. A teacher who who is a live definition of a teacher for us. For me that teacher is Madam Dipti without a doubt. I pray the Almighty Lord blesses her with health and happiness. I am sure she would continue to touch young hearts just like she touched mine. Thank you Madam for blessing me with your love and lessons.

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. ~Henry Brooks Adams