THE SIGN AND THE SYMBOL
Many years ago, on one morning, when a DAWN CLUB session was in progress, Fr. Rupak had come to see us, his teachers. He had been one of our dear alumni, and had been a very active participant of our Workshops and PD sessions. That was when he was just a teenager. Then, he went about joining a Catholic seminary and eventually received his priesthood. Being a missionary, his vocation took him to various parts of the country and the world. Presently, Fr. Rupak is serving somewhere in Africa, where, yes, Lord wants him to serve.
I have been always a well-wisher of Fr. Rupak and felt proud being his teacher, even though it was for a brief while, and even though it was not relating to his academics.
Well, there is a reason why I remember Fr. Rupak in this Post, today. Let me share with you that.
That morning, I had casually ushered Fr. Rupak to the podium and requested him to share with our young ones his own insights… and, probably offer them a piece of advice. I do not know about the young ones… that is, if they remember what advice Fr. Rupak had given them… But, I certainly do.
And, let me confess why I still remember it.
For, I have been struggling to live by it!
Honestly, I still do!
Fr. Rupak had concluded his message by drawing on our white board an advice he himself had received when he was a student. That morning, he chose to share the same with us.
The first sketch Fr. Rupak had drawn on the board was that of a ‘sign’, an arrow. “This is one way to help someone,” he had said, “by showing the way, by being an indicator, by being a guide.”
The other sketch Father had drawn was of a ‘symbol’. “This is another way of teaching and helping someone,” he had explained, “by being the symbol… the example!”
I was his teacher. And, when I heard it from him, I felt the power of his statements… “Hey, he is telling this to you, my friend,” a voice inside me prompted me, “Can you be that for your young students: a ‘symbol’… an example?”
Today, in the midst of receiving “Happy Teachers’ day” messages, from scores of my past and present students, I suddenly remembered the advice of Fr. Rupak. Let me confess before you, with all my honesty, this: I feel very, very small every time this reminder flashers before my mind!
Have I been just a ‘sign’
to all my students - thousands of them -
over all these decades,
or have I been a ‘symbol’?
Fr. Rupak, you have humbled me for life…
And, that is for my good.
“A very Happy Teachers day” to all my amazing teachers…
And, “a warm ‘thank you’” to all my wonderful students.
The ‘sign’ will forever indicate to me the ‘symbol’!
Pic.: Vivek D'Cunha