There are so many people who have inspired me in various ways. I feel I have been lucky to have so many good teachers, mentors, friends, my own family, parents, and people that became my family away from home. I have learned many things in life from all of them. And, learning is not limited just to human beings. Nature, the creations of nature, everything around us teach us different things at various stages of our life. It’s just that some people stand out for the special bond we feel with them, a bond that is beyond words or any definitions of crush, love. They are just special. They touch our souls in ways we never have experienced before. They bring out the best in us.
The very first such soul I remember is a teacher of mine when I was in the 3rd standard!
He was my drawing and music teacher. The whole class was supposed to draw whatever he had told them to. I used to sit on the desk like a statue, and he used to draw me! My drawing was already good, far better than the whole class. Maybe that’s how he never forced me to draw in school and was satisfied with my homework or used to ask me to complete what other’s were drawing in class, at home.
Sometimes he used to adjust my dress and tie, (Yes, I was that girl who didn’t bother about her appearances.) It always was loose, with the shirt peeping out of the petticoat we were wearing above the shirt. And no, it was not a ‘bad touch’, I’m sure of that. He was just kind and loving to me. He never scolded me for my poor dressing style.
He was so kind that in spite of my harsh voice, he let me join the group of girls who would sing prayers, in our school, just because I expressed interest. On the very first day of rehearsal, we all were singing that one song that I don’t remember the lyrics to now, and he was playing the harmonium. He interrupted us 4 times because someone was singing out of tune. He was not able to find out who. When he stopped suddenly for the fifth time, determined to find out who that girl was, everyone looked towards me. I was so horrified and embarrassed that I just stood up with tears filled in my eyes and ran out of the room. I was avoiding him, any eye contact with him, but he didn’t scold me.
The next time he asked me to be a gatekeeper, listen to people sing so I might learn. I stood at the gate, obviously outside, making sure no one comes nearby or disturbs my favourite sir and his troop. He was strict about not letting anyone disturb him, and I had seen him scolding whoever interrupted him. Besides, I wanted to win his heart by doing what he wanted me to do.
But that day, there were a few naughty senior boys who just arrived at the room and kept banging the door. I tried to shoo them away but they were not there to listen to a girl who was some 3 feet 3 inches tall. I heard his furious voice from inside asking, “Who is that?”. I was so scared that rather than showing him my face I ran away and went to my classroom, never to try singing again at all.
He never discouraged me from trying but I was just ashamed. I chose to not be anywhere near that singing room. He once asked why I never visited again, I said “No, am not interested,” and he didn’t insist after that.
Once he had drawn my sketch, and it was a work of art, a masterpiece. With due care, he had drawn every strand of my hair that was messy and had grown out of shape. But, back then, I hated it so much because that’s when I realized my hair was so messy. The mushroom cut I had, had grown some 2-3 months, and were, by now, reaching the collar and grown outwardly. He had put in a lot of effort to draw them precisely, but who would like to be seen so in school? When everyone else was so neat and clean, either with two chotis (ponytails) and a ribbon, or a boy cut with a hairband.
I showed that sketch to my elder sister and she also realized how badly I needed a haircut. She took me to her friend who used to chop my hair. This time, in order to avoid such situations, my sister got me a short U-cut.
The next day when I entered my classroom, he happened to see me, sounded super excited and asked, “Where is the sketch?” I said, “I have it in my bag.”
He asked me to come with the sketch to the staffroom and asked me to show it to one of the teachers. He then asked the other teacher, “How is it?” Not very impressed, the teacher just said “Nice.”
This teacher of mine was confused as to why he got such a reply. He took the sketch, looked at it once, and then looked at me and asked, “What happened to your hair?” I, with my eyes down, said: “I cut them.”
Uff, how disappointed he was. It indeed was a masterpiece, he had put a lot of effort to draw all the messy hair, and I just chopped them off before anyone could see how well and precisely he had drawn it. I was looking so neat and obviously lot different from my sketch. He didn’t say a word, I was sad to disappoint him.
It was his love and kindness that he never said anything to me, maybe he knew I was too young to even understand anything if he would have. We had a special bond, I thought.
It so happened that the same year he left my school. I so missed him and I still try to look him up on Facebook but alas, I could never find him. I want to tell him that I too liked him very much and his affectionate actions meant so much to me. I hope I get that chance. I also get angry with myself sometimes for not keeping all those sketches.
He reminded me to be kind to everyone, irrespective of how they look, or if I have anything to gain from them. He was a source of unconditional love for me, which I needed.
If today I love people unconditionally, I think I owe it to him. He taught me to love people just the way they are, and not to expect things in return. Love is not a business where you give something to get something back. It’s something you keep giving without expecting anything back.
What I gave him was disappointment but he never stopped being kind to me. I could never return his favours but now I keep doing what he did… love unconditionally.
You never know who might be in need of it. You never know what one is going through and all that you can do is be kind and loving even to those who may not be able to give it back to you at all or who are just strangers for you.