neelwrites/thewall/shorstory/reena’sexplorationchallenge/1582words/fiction/16/112017

Hosted by the superb Reena at https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/reenas-exploration-challenge-week-12/

Here’s the prompt

If you were asked to share one experience you had with someone you knew which was experienced as a gift or transmission, what memory would that be? Close your eyes and see what arises. Which gift will you pass on?

 

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THE WALL

By Neel Anil Panicker

There are two types of educators: those who do what they are tasked to do out of love and those who don’t do what they are tasked to do out of hate.

Now doing something out of love is entirely different from doing something because it needs to be done.

And the needs could be any and varied. It could be commanded by the every elemental need for survival. I mean people teach for the money that it provides, necessary money that helps feed  themselves and their families.

But then that would apply to any profession, one may argue.

True but then not necessarily. There are those in this category who teach because they know nothing else or because they are no good at anything else.

Not for them the rigours of the corporate world, the daily grind of struggling to meet and outdo targets and KRAs. Not for them also the admonitions, demotions, insults, and humiliations that follow the non-performance or under performance of a task.

Ratnesh Karmakar was one such person. I first met him in the staff Faculty Room. It was on a Monday morning, a little after 11. I had just walked into the Faculty Room after finishing my first class of the day.

It was an English Vocabulary class and as what happens after most such classes I was surrounded by a couple of very eager students too intrigued by the fascinating world of words; words which hitherto were new to them. They were badgering me with questions as to the scientific originations of these new fanciful words.

I decided to give them a very patient hearing and walked them through the various etymologies and root word methodologies to help decode the words and their subtle undertexts.

All this while I barely noticed that the Faculty Room was inhabited by another person. After I was done with the students I turned around and found to my utter surprise and shock a man, barely under 35, half sprawled on the leather couch, his eyes shut and snoring away to glory.

Feeling slightly discomfited by what I saw, I stepped out of the Room and when I came back after grabbing a cup of coffee from the kitchen I saw that the man, whoever it was no longer there. Whoof! Vanished into thin air.

That day, in the evening, I met him again, but this time in passing. He was inside the classroom adjacent to mine. I spotted through the glass door; he was there, seated on the chair, his legs all laid out on the floor like some heavily pregnant woman’s minutes before delivery, ostensibly teaching a a classfull of students, his eyes half shut, sheer boredom plastered all over his swarthy, unshaven face.

Disgusted by this wanton display of insouciance I turned around and walked into my own class, my respect for this man, whoever he may be, definitely hitting rock bottom in the few hours that I had encountered him.

It was only the next day that I came to know that this person was a new recruit, a Mathematics teacher to boot.

Now, was I shocked? Well, not one bit. For in my over a decade and half years spent in and around a classroom I have encountered many such teachers who bring disgrace to the noble profession by not just diluting it of its true worth but by also revealing themselves as very poor role models for the impressionable students that they vouch to teach and thereby to the society at large.

Such laidback people with a damn care attitude and without an iota of commitment towards the world of books and the pious business of teaching are dime a dozen in all educational institutions, be they schools, colleges, coaching institutions et al.

I avoid them like the plague but feel sorry for the hapless students who are at the receiving end of such ‘learning’ for what is education and its efficacy if delivered half heartedly and sans all passion.
And speaking of passion, my thoughts travel to the other side of the  spectrum for every such deadwoods of the world there are also inhabit the tireless, sincere warriors who go about their tasks with a dedication and honesty that is almost saintly in nature.

Rahul Joshi was his name. but we called him simply ‘The Wall’. Quite like the venerated Indian cricketer he was, to all who were fortunate to have interacted with him and partaken of his goodness, Mr Dependable,  always to be trusted upon, reliable to the core.

No, he wasn’t Mr No All, one of those who profess to know every little thing on this planet and then struts about with an air of superciliousness.

No, absolutely not, Far from it, Rahul was the epitome of humility, dedication, discipline and simplicity.

Clad in a starch white or light blue shirt and matching trousers, his hair, neatly trimmed and gelled,

He would be found either in the class, teaching English, explaining the finer nuances of the English syntax to a bevy of eager beaver students who would lap up every single utterance of his with an eagerness and devotion that would any Hindu god to shame.

A fact validated by the huge crowd of students who would swarm him once the class got over and bombard with umpteen questions.

Very assiduously, Rahul would give each one of them a patient hearing, listening, and then clearing, clarifying, correcting, suggesting, counselling all of them in a manner that was nothing short of heights of dedication and sincerity.

I mean here was a faculty who had just taught for a whole two hours a class choc-a-block with students, all the while remaining standing, and then to continue like that and take individual doubt sessions with a dozen or more students without batting an eyelid or revealing a whiff of discomfort, his perpetual smile never flagging a wee bit__all this was more than admirable. My respect for this man, as I sat and watched him over the following days and weeks, grew in geometric progression until one day I resolved to know or better still understand what made him so special, so grounded, when everyone around him walked around with a jaunt and a forced swag as if they owned the world and its backyard.

I came to know few things which increased my respect for this remarkable person.

Here is his story as I gathered over the course of the next few days.

Rahul was the only child of educationists who very tragically died in a ghastly train accident some ten year ago.

After their death, and in deference to their lifelong wish, which they had made known much earlier to him on several occasions, Rahul decided to follow in their footsteps and become an educator himself.

So, immediately after acquiring an IIM degree from Kolkata, he joined Coaching Time, first in its Pune centre and then at its New Delhi branch.

Here, he found as few things that riled him no end. First, the teachers, at least a few of them, were not so dedicated and wedded to the noble task of imparting knowledge.

They would simply come, take their classes half heartedly, and then while away the rest of their time unnecessarily indulging in talks and activities that could very mildly be termed as ‘undesirable’.

He found that all this went antithetical to what his parents had taught him. From them he had learnt that mere possession of knowledge is of no use unless it serves to benefit mankind.

And here that meant the teeming multitude of students who had left behind their homes and comforts, traversing thousands of kilometres, putting up in alien jam packed rooms and subsisting on outside food, living and surviving with just one solitary hope and dream in mind__ that of  cracking CAT, one of the toughest of all competitive examinations in the country, an achievement that would open the doors of the much sought after big, wide managerial world around them.

And so Rahul had decided to dedicate his life to the cause of these students. He not only began to lend a helping hand to every student who came to him for help, but also went back home and studied a multitude of diverse books and resource material and passed on all that extra knowledge to his students to equip them with that extra edge.

Highly impressed by this exemplary display of work ethics and fearsome dedication to the noble cause of teaching, I too decided to inculcate all this in my daily life.

Here was one person who was worthy of emulation, who through his actions and deeds had shown to one and all the right path, the path that led towards knowledge and enlightenment , not the one that Lord Buddha took, but one that was more grounded and rooted in real life, that allowed one to live a normal life while at the same time dedicating oneself to a far nobler cause, that of  guiding, teaching, educating, advising, and handholding a retinue of hesitant, struggling and fearful students, equipping and arming them but not just  the nuts and bolts of their course material but in the process making into better evolved persons and fine human beings.

Thanks to this wonderful person, in due course of time, he became the apple of everyone’s eyes including the initial naysayers and the slackers, and soon his values began to be embraced by one and all.

©neelanilpanciker2017 #shortstory #1582words #reena’s exploration challenge

3 thoughts on “neelwrites/thewall/shorstory/reena’sexplorationchallenge/1582words/fiction/16/112017

  1. Exactly , and such sort of people are dime a dozen all over while the truly hard working, talented people take backstage mirroring the consumerist, capitalist self serving culture that is more the norm than the exception nowadays.

    Liked by 1 person

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