Normally kids hate going to school especially after weekends where all sorts of ailments and aches sprout on Monday mornings. But for Sara, she just hated holidays. Yes! She could not resist getting back to school. Akshara was like her home, the teachers and friends- her family.
Sara had wonderful friends at school. Jim-the jumping jackal! (Jackal is just a rhyming word here!), Tony- a curious lad who is a bus fanatic, Nag- a silent listener. All of them were classmates and shared a wonderful rapport among them in almost everything they do. At Akshara, they were able to learn and explore and it had teachers who really understood them. Somehow in Akshara, the differences among students were not only accepted but at times celebrated. They were left to be unique and being them in whatever they did, be it learning or sports or extracurricular activities. All of them were like meadows and Akshara had great dedicated, fun loving teaching staffs that shaped them to be a neatly trimmed lawn. Now aren’t these enough to make a student’s life so much more interesting?
On a wintry morning, the classroom was warm with the thin streaks of sun’s rays through the window. Sara was sitting quietly in her place while the others chatted loudly, waiting for the bell to ring signaling the beginning of the class. They had been informed that today they will have their new maths teacher.
All conversations blurred together when the new teacher arrived. There came a man who was tall and thin to teach them, the universally accepted daedalean subject- ‘MATHS’.
On his debut class, Mr. Hari after the usual introductions, started to teach the concept of Ven Diagrams. All of them were curiously watching what is he going to write on the board and how is he going to teach? He broke their silence by his loud, clear voice and crystal clear explanations (most important for any math teacher right?).What wonderful examples he gave for teaching intersection and union of sets. He just started like this “consider a set full of donkeys, monkeys ….”…And Jim started to smile! And others too followed suit. This way he made the classroom environment more comfortable for the quartet.
This young man had a radiance that made every student who sees him to feel the irresistible impulse to smile! For his smile was most sincere and pure. Within a few days, he created a friendly rapport with all of them and changed the attitude towards the subject by his way of teaching. He rarely beckons them by their names; his usual style is to call them all as “chellam” (sweetheart/dear in Tamil).
He also knew hindi and for quite some time he taught them that too. And hence he was fondly reffered as ‘Ji’. But ‘Ji’s love for maths and the way he makes it interesting and fun was contagious. Even Jim who hated maths ( but he was very good at English) started to love it and long for his classes. For any student, to whom maths is a ‘nightmare’ he beautifully, lovingly turned it into a ‘sweet dream’.
Ji was one teacher; they could never get the better of. Whatever witty retort the trio boys had, he had one better than it!
All funny dramas onstage when he announces a test. On the day of the test, the naughty heads of the class (the boys of course!) come late. He took a stick and pretended to beat the late comers. All the three started to run around the class, it was fun watching them do this for Sara. Jim who was the naughtiest of them all held the stick and made it more fun. Even Ji couldn’t resist his laughter. 10 to 15 minutes of the class hour was already gone. After all, this is what they wanted! – skip the test!! Ji would turn these kinds of disobediences it into an advantage for himself and make them do what he wanted but never through belittling or authority.
He used to mention scolding as “getting medals”! He would wittily ask Jim, “So, how many medals did u get at home today?” or would express with a false fear “oh! No, I don’t know how many medals I am going to get from your parents! For your maths man!”
When he taught, it was with the passion of a lifelong teacher, like someone who lived to inspire a love of learning in the next generation. Apart from a wonderful math teacher, he was a person who influenced his students tremendously.
So went the friends’ schooldays happily and studiously. All of them got scattered here and there on account of their higher studies. But one reminiscence that was common for all of them when they think of their school days was their maths class and of course their favorite Ji. Even now, when they meet him somewhere, he still calls them “chellam…..” To him irrespective of their marital status and parenthood or whatever position they are now in , they are still the same little naughty heads of his class. That is what his nature is and they love him for that!.
As Author T.A.Barron says “There is nothing more heroic than a teacher who helps young minds to discover those vast reserves hidden inside him, he who gives hope when all seems hopeless, shows her dreams in the midst of nightmares and teaches to face fear with strong determination.”
Indeed our Ji was and is doing great justice to his teaching profession. All these words said above are hallmarked for our wonderful “Hariharan Ji”.
- All characters in the story are real and it pertains to my own class.
“This story/poem is written as part of the “Once…At School” contest on Tell-A-Tale – Bringing together stories and storytellers to create a positive change.”