Teacher. The word brings so many memories in my mind. Good and bad. Serious and funny.
I consider it great when you meet your teacher at the market and he/she remembers you. Just imagine the number of students they would have seen in their career? And to remember most of the students is really an achievement. It is another matter why a teacher remembers a particular student. Maybe the student was too mischievous and the teacher had punished him/her so many times that both have never been able to forget each other to this day. Or maybe the teacher found the student so bright and academically oriented that the face is etched in the teacher’s memory.
I wish to narrate an incident related to the former because I was never a bright and academically oriented student.
I remember all my teachers. Because I have given most of them tough time in keeping me silent. According to most of my teachers, I was an ‘Outstanding student’ i.e. I was always ‘Standing out’ during their class. So you can imagine to what extent I have terrified them. But the best thing was that I used to hone my drawing skills whenever I was made to stand out. So I am thankful to all the teachers who told me to ‘Get out’. I am what I am for all those hours I stood out sketching the school building, the teachers, students, the trees around Malleswaram 18th Cross, the passengers waiting at the bus stop opposite my school…(I studied in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Malleswaram.)
Padma Miss during the Alumni meet at KVM on Jan.26, 2013
I liked the Librarian Padma Miss as she had all the magazines like Champak, Chandamama, Tinkle, Sportstar, CSR and MISHA, a Russian Magazine for Kids. I was the first to enter the Library in the morning and dig the shelf for new arrivals. It was all fine until one day she found out that I was carrying a Cork ball into the library. She grabbed it and put it atop a tall shelf. I begged her to give it back but to no avail. I really cried that day because after a lot of pestering, my father had bought me a ‘Cork ball’. For the fear of losing it, I always had it in my shorts pocket. And now it was gone forever. I hated the ‘Library period’ then onwards as by default she made me stand out.
I knew Padma Miss stayed somewhere close to the school as I had seen her come by walk. I used to see her in the market sometimes. And sometimes in a temple near Malleswaram 8th cross. Whenever and Wherever I saw her, I used to pester her to return the ball. And she would give a stern look and go away.
One day, after missing the cork ball for nearly 9 months, I followed her home and told her father that “Miss has taken my cork ball.” He called her and she was shocked to see me in her house. When they spoke to each other in Telugu, I could only make out the words ‘Cork ball’ and ‘Naughty fellow’. She told me to meet her the next day in the Library. I went home with some hope of getting the ball the next day.
My school was between 9 am till 3.10 pm. I was in the Library at 8 am the next morning. I waited and waited for Miss to come and was in no mood to even read any of the newly arrived magazines, which were waiting on Miss’ table to get the School seal on their fresh pages.
At about 9 am, Miss came. And she scolded me for standing in the Library without attending ‘Prayer’. I just about managed to tell, “I want the ball Miss”. She told she will take this matter to the Principal. She told, “Why do you harass me like this everywhere, I say? Why do you fellows come to school? Take a bat and ball and play on the streets the whole day.” I don’t know what made me tell “Miss give me my ball miss, I will never see this school, I will play wherever I want”. She became red in the face and hit the back of my head with a newspaper rolled in.” And for the umpteenth time, another teacher told me to ‘Get out’.
After a few months, the academic year was over and I had crossed primary school level. I still hated the ‘Library period’ although I could enter the Library. One day, I saw that Padma Miss was cleaning the old magazines in the shelves and called me to hold a bundle of books. She told me to check if any magazines were on top of the shelf. I stood on the wooden stool and saw to my amazement the ‘Cork ball’, my treasure, lying in a corner like an orphan, covered with cob web and fine dust. The manufacturer’s name was still visible: Malcom. I was about to pick it up when Miss shouted, ‘What are you gaping at?” I told there were no magazines. The bell rang. She got busy collecting the books my friends were returning. I took the red cherry and wiped the dust like a fast bowler does. And ran away to show my friends the gem in my hand.
Even today, sometimes I get to see Padma Miss at the Malleswaram Market. After talking for a few minutes about my classmates and teachers, I invariably ask her, ‘Miss, I want my cork ball”. She raises her hand to hit me and just taps my head. And both of us have a hearty laugh unmindful of the fellow shoppers staring at us.