Dear Archana ma’am,
I hope I’m spelling your name right. It’s rather flippant on my part that I am not even sure how to spell the name of the teacher who has had such a profound impact on my perspective towards life. I was in the second year of my college waiting for the class to begin. There was a novel tucked into my lap; the saviour that got me through the tormenting lectures of Science stream (the magic of which my friend had introduced me to some years later but that is a story for another day).
In college, I was just the wrong person in the wrong place. A mind awaiting an escape to the magic-land of language and imagination trapped in the classroom of BSc.
And my flight to liberation arrived with you. You walked in the class with exactly these words: “If you are in my class to read the syllabus, you can do yourselves a favour and leave. I’m here to make you think.”
I shut my copy of Nietzsche. He would have to wait. But you, standing there with your infectious charisma and enthusiasm, needed to be listened to. In the very first class, you explained to us the emotions one experiences while reading and the power they have to transform anyone.
I was over buoyed with the insights you shared with us. I, who had attendance-shortage in every class, started attending every English lecture religiously to relish the mysteries of literature that you unfolded to us every day. You’d only started working in college the same year on deputation. I was charmed by your acumen and felt so fortunate to sit and get to listen to your overpowering philosophies.
Unfortunately, some of my classmates didn’t share similar sentiments. On the contrary, they felt that it was a time waste to discuss things which were not even in the syllabus. Maybe not in the syllabus of Jammu University BSc II General English, but it was awfully vital to the curriculum of worldly life that was awaiting us outside the college gates.
I was aghast when the students decided to make a complaint (which failed to yield any impact considering your reputation in academia). However, I felt that it was an unfortunate attempt to dim the light of a person who was trying to add a little magic to the world. So, I decided to make an effort to acknowledge your labour of disseminating real-time classroom learning.
I suck at Art and Craft but I made this card, decorated it with white pearls and wrote a heartfelt message for you.
With a friend’s help, I left the card on the dais just before you were about to enter the class. Without my name on it.
As you opened the letter and read the note I had scribbled, the perplexed lines on your forehead straightened and your expressions flowered into a wide curvy smile. It made me feel like I had revivified the magic of the dwindling universe. You then enquired who had made it.
I wanted to rise up, but I feared that my identity would burden the act. You may have ended up thinking that it was merely a gesture done in lieu of seeking some petty favour for the internal assessments. So, I controlled my excitement because it was a gesture done out of sheer appreciation, the kind that doesn’t seek acknowledgement or reciprocation in return.
There was something special about you during that lecture. When the class was over, you didn’t put the card inside your handbag. You placed it on top of your things flaunting it with pride like a child who marches back home to show off his first trophy to his parents.
Every time I think about this particular moment–the way you walked out of the classroom carrying the card with pride- it makes me ecstatic. It is one of these selected things, I feel, I’ve done to be deserving of being featured on Brightside or Upworthy.
But it’s not just the act. It’s the power you had to make a student do something like that for you. You moved an individual so greatly on account of your enriching ideas and knowledge. I am indebted for that excitement about learning that you cultivated in me. Owing to my personal failings probably, no teacher had impacted me before this with a similar degree. You were the first one.
After that, I still had to meet a Professor who redefined the meaning of beauty for me as she shone with a glow no Mac compact could match while teaching Aristotle or another one who empowered me with the most precious gift of liberation. But you laid the seed. You made me learn and believe that teaching is a magical profession that can do wonders.
In the retrospect, it is only now, when I am on the other side of the classroom, that I’ve truly been able to fathom the perspicacity of this experience.
So, thank you. You led me to a magical path of self-awareness and for that, I will always be indebted to you. Happy Teachers’ Day, ma’am!