Pic.: Ruma Chatterjee
A lady greeted me when I was in the bank, this morning. “How are you, ma’am,” I enquired, “How is teaching going on?”
“Teaching and me?” she reacted in surprise, “No, sir, that’s not my cup of tea! Anything in Finance, YESSS!”
Her face lit up when she declared ‘Finance’... and, yes, there was that extra-ordinary self-confidence evident in her “YESSS!”
Well, she wasn’t a teacher like me. Yes, I was wrong there. She was the Finance head in her company. “Sir, one needs loads of patience to be a teacher, which I don’t have,” the lady confessed. Then she added, with a twinkle in her eyes, “How do you continue to do it for decades?”
An hour before that, I had lost my head in the class. One of the SY B’Com girls was telling me: If you add 20,000 to 1,00,000, you get 12,000! I noticed the way she had placed the commas... I counted the zeroes... They were all haywire. It was the nth time I was pointing her mistakes to her... So, I was arguing in my mind that, I had the genuine reason to be angry and impatient. When my anger showed up, the girl became blank and began to make more mistakes... I heard myself giving her a long lecture: “You are a S.Y.B’Com girl... Need I teach you how to do 2 plus 10?”
It took a while for me to cool off. Then, I changed gears: I made the girl feel relaxed, normal... I made her feel – “It is okay, sometimes, to goof up like that.” I wrote in big, bold size 20,000 and 1,00,000... spaced out on a full white-sheet... I made her mind see those numbers, clearly, peacefully...
“One lakh twenty-thousand, sir!”
“Smart?” Was I giving her a left-handed compliment? Was I telling her, like a sniper, “You dumb idiot, did I have to use all the props – marbles, sticks, and seeds as my village teacher did when I was a baby – to teach you this? You, a nineteen-year-old Mumbai college girl?”
Honestly, I had lost patience and was not willing to empathize with her... go slow with her... allow her time, her space to pick up and settle down... Though I did not want to hurt her, insult her, by being impatient, I was doing exactly that... But, that was when I was yelling at her... Not when I took that blank white-sheet and wrote in big, bold figures... That was the time, I had cooled off and I was willing to admit the truth: “No one, in his or her senses, would make mistakes just to make a fool of oneself.” And, I was, also, willing the see the truth: “Some flowers, always, bloom late!”
The lady in the bank, the Finance head, claims that she is not a ‘teacher’. I disagree. All of us are teachers... as all of us have to teach something or the other to someone, all the time... Therefore, all of us are expected to possess in our hearts loads and loads of patience, which, is impossible to do, all the time and everywhere...
Yes, I do show most of the times, and in most places enough patience... But, at times – like this morning – I run out of it... And, then, like any other soul with a good conscience, I, too, make amends, quickly...
I take a blank, white-sheet and write on it, in big, bold size: 2 + 10 = 12...!
Dear, and I am not being a ‘sniper’ when I compliment you, for your right answer, saying, “Smart”... Trust me, it is not a Left-handed Compliment!