Hosted by the enterprising and ever helpful Reena at
What is it that makes you feel powerful? What is that strength which makes your time on this planet worthwhile?
FLY ME HIGH UP THE SKY
By Neel Anil Panicker
MONDAY, 12 NOON,
‘Dammit, I have another class after this. Hate teaching a bunch of stupid students?
‘Bad luck, Arvind. Don’t forget it is idiots such as these who sponsor our salaries, who help make both our ends meet, who…’
‘Know it Rahul and cut the spiel, will you. These good for nothings, when they throw cash on the table it helps bring us ‘food on the table What do you say, Animesh?’.
At that instant the bell rang and Animesh thankfully extricated himself from the Faculty Room and strode purposefully down the corridor towards the corner classroom for what was his second class of the day.
Two hours later…
“Animesh, why don’t you check this video. It is the latest on Pappu”.
Animesh looked across at his colleague who was peering into his phone, a top end model IPhone and replied gently, “Thanks Rahul, I have an essay to complete”.
Racuous laughter erupted all around the comfy leather chairs on which snuggled a group of four other FMs, their eyes glued to their phones.
An unmindful Animesh checked his watch, decided he still had fifteen minutes before the start of his next class and opened his laptop.
At that instant a band of students came inside.
He recognised them as students from his just concluded class.
“Sir, we have a problem. Could you tell us the difference between “He came to the class” and “He has come to the class”?
Animesh looked up at the students who were now hovering around him.
Vinay, Prakash, Adil, Deepesh, and Anita. He knew them; their names and faces registered on his heart and mind from day one.
All of them were almost of the same colour, height, weight, and carried the same body language, conveying similar facial expressions. Pretty much indistinguishable much like the group of camera slinging, baggy clad monk like Chinese tourists that he often spotted strolling around Connaught Circus. They all looked the same but unlike the foreigners who were armed with large tourist guide maps and had cheer spread across their milky white visages, the students who had come to Animesh stood half bent, holding half opened grammar books in their hands, anxiety writ large on their despondent faces, their reed thin bodies covered in pale yellow skin pigmentations__these graduate students, all pushing their twenties and staring into bleak uncertain futures, epitomised tenseness, quite eerily the subject they had severe doubts about.
Even in the cool October month, thick beads of sweat trickled through their pores and ran all over their workman style clothes, abominably pungent odours emanating from their bodies.
He sat them down beside him, and unmindful of the rambunctious sounds all around him and the sly remarks and innuendoes of his colleagues, proceeded to teach them the intricacies of the moving time as captured via the Verb, the ‘action’ Part of Speech, feeling a strange empathy and warmth towards them.
He knew that not very long ago he too was in the same boat, undergoing the same plight as these students were now experiencing, and resolved to help alleviate their sorrow as best as he could do.
There are two types of teachers in this world. The ones who are teachers because they have nothing better to do. The other, those who become teachers because they believe this is the best thing to do.
As far as the first category is concerned, I know I may have taken a very extremist view when I say “they have nothing better to do”.
Let me qualify that by saying that “they think they have nothing better to do or worse they want nothing better to do.”
It is this category of teachers who have ‘chanced’ upon the teaching profession
who belittle teachers and teaching, the noblest of all professions in the world.
And because they believe “they have nothing better to do” they inflict their inner negativity, despondency and lackadaisical attitude, allowing it slowly and dangerously percolate into the impressionable minds and hearts of ‘fresh as a daisy’ students who as the aphorism goes learn from their teachers.
These are the unfortunate souls, who after having stumbled in and out of a countless other professions, accidentally bump into the teaching profession, and discover it to be “cool’ and easy” and “laidback”, staying put there for ages, growing thick skins and even thicker work ethics that border on extreme forms of lassitude and nothingness.
So they amble in and out of classrooms, their weary feet dragging their lost souls and deadened minds, sowing seeds of negativity and despondency on one and all.
They are a pain, not only to themselves, but all those who are unfortunate enough to interact with them.
They are here not because of any great love for it, but because they have run out of choices. And as we all know, especially the American electorate who voted a most mismatched person for the most powerful job in the world, any decision that is taken out of compulsion and not of choice is a utterly stupid and downright false one, one that could lead to long term damaging consequences.
On the other end of the spectrum are those types of teachers who have become teachers because truly love the profession, who truly believe in the power of education in transforming lives, and who thereby take it as a very powerful tool, one that needs to be wielded with a lot of responsibility, acumen, sincerity and humility.
They are the ones who sprint in and out of classrooms, energising classrooms and its inhabitants with a searing intensity and vitality as reflected in the manner, style, depth, and deep passion that they bring into their teachings.
They are the true torchbearers of education, the upholders of right moral and intellectual values, and sadly a very rare breed.
Animesh Bhattarya is one such specimen.
A well respected English teacher, he is a senior Verbal Faculty at Coaching First, the number one institution in the country that helps graduate students prepare themselves for cracking the CAT, the Common Admissions Test, the ticket to the IIMs, the best B-schools in the country, and thereon to the most coveted positions in the corporate world.
Almost ten years into the teaching profession, everything about the forty something Animesh Sir,
as his students respectfully address him as, typified his attitude and aptitude towards and for the profession.
Lunch breaks and Faculty Rooms are a highly combustible combination. There are discussions galore, sweet and sour titbits culled from the world wide web are gingerly extricated, passed around to be polished and refined, dissected and analysed threadbare, served piping hot along with samosas and hot tea.
Often, fireworks exploded.
Politics, religion, economy, education…these were some perennial hot topics, never running out of circulation, always finding eager and new audiences.
“The bastard. He should be sent to Pakistan”… “Bullet trains in a country where daily train accidents are the norm. What a cruel 1 lakh crore joke on us is this?”…
”God only knows what these assholes were doing in school.” …”Wasting time, what else.”
The last two remarks sent Animesh’s thoughts racing back in time.
He closed his eyes and travelled back to his past, to a childhood steeped in povertqy, a childhood spent sowing seeds in a rich landlord’s fields, until one man’s benevolence saw him getting enrolled in the only school in the entire village, a village so poor that its denizens were deprived of even electricity and potable water, a sad commentary on a country that tomtoms itself as the world’s largest functional democracy. What democracy, what function?
Within the first few days of attending school, Animesh, quite early in life, resolved to lift himself out of the cesspool of poverty. It wasn’t an easy task, though. Besides his parents, who were both farm hands, available for long lease, ever ready to till the soil of the rich, doing backbreaking hard labour from dawn to dusk, he also had to contend with an alien subject English, besides mastering the intricacies of time, speed, and distance, and a host of other subjects.
After passing himself from school with flying colours, he made his way to the big city, Patna, where he commenced a graduate programme in English Literature, his entire tuitions fees waived off in a benevolent gesture from the college authorities keeping in view his poor family background.
It was in college that he became exposed to a wider better informed world. It was here that he came to know that until now he was living the life of a frog in a well, a closed, deprived lowly existence and that there was a whole big different world out there waiting to be explored and conquered.
And the only way one could ever do that is through English, its mastery is a prerequisite to growth in life.
He began to understood that English was the numero uno language of the classes if not the masses; that it bound the world together, and that it was English alone that was the lingua franca of the international world community.
The next few years he dedicated himself to learning the nuts and bolts of the Queen’s language with a fervour and passion that was truly admirable.
Every single free time would see him in the vast college library, poring over books, reading upon an eclectic range of diverse topics; be it philosophy, psuchology, religion, science, management, science fiction…every single genre was not spared…grammar books, thesauru, bi-lingiual dictionaries…name it and he had not only read but imbibed, ingrained, internalised their thoughts, teachings, right down to every single idiom, phrasal verb, comma and full stop.
The end result: the low caste poor child of not so long ago had by the age of twenty one, armed himself with a first class distinction honours degree in English but also become an expert in the English language, both written and spoken, a feat so unique and worthy of acknowledgement that he became the envy and pride of his teachers who all reaped fulsome praise upon him and wished him the brightest of futures.
The class bell rang, putting a break to his thoughts.
Animesh Bhattarya gathered his books and strode sanguinely down the corridor to take his next class of the day.
There was a spring in his steps as supreme confidence emanated from his being.
It origined from the humbling realisation that he, the son of a poor farmer, through sheer hard work and a die-hard perseverance, had turned himself into a very rare breed, a fine exponent of the English language, one among the miniscule five per cent of Indians who could write and speak in perfect English.
It was this humbling thought that made him feel omnipotent, filled his heart and mind with great Herculean power, made him feel immensely worthwhile, and helped him to tackle headlong all of life’s problems.
He vowed to pass on this power to one and all, especially to students whose backgrounds were quite similar to his, who, though they hailed from impoverished households, had a fire in their bellies and big dreams in their hearts.
It was this audience that he craved for and dedicated his life towards.
He felt powerful, he felt worthy. Now he wanted others to feel so.
©neelanilpanicker2011 #fiction #shortstory #reena’sexplorationchallengeweeksix#powerful#1884words