Everybody deserves a John Keating in his life. If you have seen Dead Poets’ Society, you will know who I am talking about. It’s somebody who tells you it’s not who you are, but what you do that defines you and makes you realise the real meaning of the often overused word ‘Carpe Diem’. I was fortunate enough to meet one such person in my life. Divya Ma’am, or as we fondly called her, DM, this is for you and all that you have done for me.
I remember gliding through my tattered time table on a dull Monday morning and coming across a subject that I knew little about. Being the first-class early in the morning, a part of me already resented Political Economy and just wanted the class to conclude. What I did not know, however, was the fact that I was going to encounter a person who would not only change my outlook towards life but also make me want to attend all the classes, a rare feat in my final year.
I knew your class was different the moment I stepped in. You greeted all our vitamin-D deprived faces with a warm “Good Day” and asked something I had never heard in college before.
You asked us whether we were happily present. When half of the classes nodded their heads out of habit, you went on to explain what the term meant. For you, being happily present meant we had had our breakfasts and come. Instantly my mind flashed back to my mother, who would gush all over me before going to school and pester me to eat as if I hadn’t just had 3 full parathas.
A lot of people ask you about your well being but only very few care enough to follow up on that for the rest of the session. You did that for all the 150 odd classes I attended.
You always had a bunch of newspaper clippings with you and would always read an article out of the Economist or EPW. The only difference was, you didn’t just care about the GDP and what we could spout about the different alien economic terms but wanted to know what we thought about them. Our opinion mattered to you and that, as famously quoted by Robert Frost, made all the difference.
You treated us as ‘co-learners’ and made people like me rediscover my love for a subject I had long lost affection for. In little to no time, I started looking forward to your sessions and did not mind waking up at 7 am to learn more about what Fran Tonkiss and Elam Mark thought about Fordism. I had chosen LSR because of its renowned faculty and after knowing you, I got what our seniors meant when they said that these red walls aren’t filled with mere teachers but indeed, stalwarts.
It came as no surprise to me that your method of ‘learning together’ fetched me the highest grade amongst all the other subjects. But, as you had rightly said, it was never about the grades, to begin with.
I got to see your wonderful human side when we were given an opportunity to work under you as our staff advisor for an event. Whenever we would come to you for suggestions at 3 in the afternoon, you would first ensure our tummies were full and then worried about other things. I remember you giving us 3 packets of biscuits out of your bag one day, just because you could navigate through our badly hidden lie about having eaten our lunch.
Ma’am, you often wondered about a certain 2 minute instant noodles brand and how it would bring about a smile to every child’s face. I experienced the same delight and happiness every time I talked to you about anything under the sun.
I wish the day comes again when I get to attend your classes and bask in your endless wisdom. I envy my juniors who will not just come across a highly intelligent person, but a beautiful human being. I will be forever grateful to you for never complaining about our endless stupid doubts and counting us worth the pain. You continue to inspire me every single day.