A thankless yet thankful Job

Looking at the dark gray clouds extending to the horizon it was difficult for her to say whether it was seven in the morning or seven in the evening. It had just been 15 mins since the students had started entering the school premises and forming groups in the main foyer for the morning payers. She, however, did not feel like joining them but rather wanted to stay by her cabin window at the 4th floor of the building. She wanted to take in the fresh morning air accompanied by the cold-sweet breeze coming from the direction of the school playground which was clear sign that it had rained somewhere in the vicinity. Though she was in her 50’s she still felt child at heart when she saw the signs of arrival of the first monsoon. She had always loved the sight of the world engulfed in blanket of water falling from the sky. She reminisced the way she used to make paper boats and place them in the rivulets formed in front of her porch. With her mother sitting by the entrance of the house and her father standing right behind her, she delighted on the sight of her craft moving like an invincible rover overcoming the obstacles, like twigs and leaves, in its way. But such wonderful moments always used to end with a sullen feeling. She piqued at the sight of her paper boat meeting a sad end. All the happy feelings of delight and joy ended in feelings of glum. Same were the feelings she was having right at this moment.

The day she had joined the teaching profession, she was ecstatic.  Ecstatic because she was living her dream. Dream of imparting the knowledge she had gained as a student herself and dream of sharing values she possessed as a human to her students. But, little did she know that many years later she would start doubting the correctness of her decision. Her father was her role model who had taught her the importance of ‘patience, perseverance, and compassion’. But she doubts if her students know what such things are. She wonders if they value the effort she is making day in and day out for them to learn the realities of life. For one thing, however, she is very positive: She loves all her students and has their best interest in mind. But, it’s just the way they talk to her, behave in class, take her instructions lightly and fail to meet deadlines that makes her feel so… small. Sometimes it feels as if she is just there for taking her assigned classes, drawing her salary, and minding her own business.

But who is to be blamed? On one side there is poor cooperation from the school’s management that simply looks at the numbers and not the quality of education delivered, and on the other hand there are parents who realize that they have a child only when he/she fails a test. And in the middle of both extremes lies the student who believes education is just a ‘ritual’. All that a student has heard people say to him/her is that ‘if you’ll go to school you’ll be a successful person’. But what does ‘being successful’ mean to a kid? Success, as a word, is in fact very difficult even for a grown up to define then how can one expect a child to understand this vague term?  And from here the child embarks on his journey of life making this nebulous term as its basis without knowing – at least until it’s too late – what is the real reason one has joined a school. Pondering over these issues, she even sometimes blames herself for not coping up with the changing time. Had she been able to adapt to the realities of the changing times she might have mitigated the feeling she is having this moment. She is well aware that she can’t generalize the problems but they exist and that is for sure.

Her pensive mood was broken when there was a knock on the cabin door. On inquiring who was there, came a reply of a male voice from the other side who identified himself as her student, 10 years ago. Perplexed who he was, she gave her consent for the uninvited guest to come in. Along with a man there entered a women, who seemed to be his wife and their 5-year-old kid. ‘Happy Teacher’s day, ma’am‘ were his first words the moment he stepped in the cabin and bent to touch her feet. “I could never have been what I’m in my life if it were not you who handled my tantrums, and helped me become what I’m today. You helped me watch the light of success across the tunnel of difficulties when I was delirious with what is that I actually seek from my life,” he continued. On the conversations that followed, he revealed that he had come to enroll his daughter as a student of the school. It was a brief meeting wherein he introduced her to his wife and told her about what he had achieved after he left the school. Taking her blessing, he took a leave and promised her to keep in touch.

Hardly had he left her cabin when there was a sudden downpour. (Click here for effects) All of a sudden she was enthused with ethereal feelings as if a hidden trove of unfathomable power had been unearthed. She moved towards the window and stretched out her hands to feel the cold water kiss her hand. She again found herself in the body of a 7-year-old girl sitting by the front porch and watching her paper boat drain in the rivulet. By now both her parents were sitting beside her. While her mother was making a new paper boat for her, her father told her, “One can never realize a dream in just one go, and if one does then he/she is lucky. You will doubt your decisions and doubt your efforts but remember, never stop pedaling to power your dreams.” Her chain of thoughts were broken with a loud ring of the school bell. She took her books and locked her cabin to take her scheduled lecture. Closing the door she found a card on her door knob that read ‘Happy Teacher’s day‘. She strode away smiling, taking it from there and placing it between the pages of her book.


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