Saturday, February 28, 2009

THE GODSEND

It is widely believed - and, even proven - that, a teacher can not teach his or her own child. I have been a teacher for nearly three decades. And, with all my modesty, I believe, I have been a very efficient one in that.

Still, when it came to my own son - who is about to face his tenth standard ICSE Board exam in a few days - I found myself helpless. Nor could my wife break this resistance. It was evident, that the prophecy about a teacher's son was all set to be fulfilled!

Our son is multi-talented. He is a gifted child. We are extremely proud of him. He is good in sports; he plays guitar, and has a great taste for music; he is a genius when it comes to art; he reads a lot and loves to argue his points to the logical end; he has a remarkable hold on his language and he can express amazingly well in his writings ... His Principal and teachers praise him; his friends' parents, too.

As parents, what more could we ask for?

I think, both, my wife and I, had only one demand. We wanted him to develop an effective work culture, so that he could sail through his crucial exams with less stress. Some how, we failed to prevail upon him, in spite of all our love, persuasion, firmness, and even threats. He went by his own rhythm, at his own pace ... scoring low marks in his prelims and bringing us close to the edge.

Maths was his huge weakness. He kept avoiding it like plague, and we kept reminding him about it. Whenever we offered to help him, he would only say, "Not now."

"If not now, when?" we would voice our frustration.

We had enrolled him in one of the best coaching classes. But, all that had gone for a toss, and our son was there - standing on the ground zero. "Do you want us to arrange for some personal tutor?" we would ask. "I will tell you; relax," he would respond.

Of all the things in the world, "Relax"!

Our son is intelligent. He went by his own rhythm ... all along avoiding his nightmare subject - Maths. We remained anxious. But, I had this hunch: that something miraculous would happen and our good child would find help to dissolve his mental block. And, it happened just a week ago. All out of the blue, a retired and a very efficient teacher came on the scene. Mrs. Rukmini, was my colleague about thirty years ago. She wasn't married then, and we called her Chari miss. Today, at 68, she still has that child-like innocence and enthusiasm when it comes to teaching subjects like maths and physics. Yes, that is - after teaching for 47 years, and after her retirement! Teaching gives her immense joy and satisfaction. Her world is centered around her extended family of students, whom she teaches in few groups at her residence.

When my wife approached her for our son, she had already sent off her other students. So, our son caught his flight, when others had landed!

And, what a marvelous joyride it was destined to be! It was, in deed, a flight of fantasy.

A good teacher is one - who inspires thirst in a reluctant student. I have done that in my thirty-year teaching umpteen number of times. When parents come back to tell me about the turnaround, it leaves me with goose pimples. That joy is all worth it; it is bliss. It is the mark of a good life, lived with all zest and passion. I am moved to tears, every time that feeling runs through my being and overwhelms me.

Today, the role has changed, I can imagine the kind of satisfaction and joy a teacher like Mrs. Rukmini must be experiencing. Our gratitude for her oozes out of our being... It is her time, now, to experience those tears of joy. That lump in the throat.

As teachers, we sow good seeds. We touch lives. We transform difficult, young children. My hunch has, always, been inspired by this truth. I have, always, trusted in the universal law of 'good karma'. "What goes around, comes around," ... I have never given up on this law.

The lump in my throat and the goose pimples all over my body - as I am writing this - is a live testimony to this.

Thank you ma'am.



GERALD D'CUNHA

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