Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The smile

Miss George was not a bad teacher. In fact she was a conscientious and a good one. She took great pains to prepare her lessons well in advance. She burnt mid night oil to correct the homework the same day and give remarks in each and every note book. That the comments were trenchant was no fault of hers for she wrote what she genuinely felt without any effort to be nice. To an outsider her remarks may appear rude and discouraging in nature though they indicated where the students had gone wrong and what the right answer was. But the children en masse disliked her but she was not perturbed. Her class was always serious with no light hearted aside and she came down heavily on any kid trying to be flippant. She never touched any child but her tongue was rapier like. She was not good looking though many held she was ugly and that was why she remained a spinster. She was lean and scrawny and the thick glasses she wore made her hunched figure not a pretty sight. Sadly she paid no attention to her dress also.
Her colleagues in the staff room gave her a wide berth though she did nothing to merit such a mean treatment. As a result she was seen sitting alone in a corner poring over a book or a paper while the room was filled with riotous laughter and banter from others. She never smiled either in the class or in the staff room. Her eye brows were knit in what looked a constant frown. In short she had no friends.
That particular day her mood was nastier. That was the last period for the day. She asked questions on the lessons she taught the previous day as she always did. When the boys and girls failed to give satisfactory answers, her anger erupted and was followed by a stern order asking them all to stand up with hands folded for the rest of the class while she revised the lessons she taught earlier. The children were not amused and one could see the hate in their eyes. When the bell rang there were loud shouts of relief and joy with the children making a beeline for the door.
Praveen saw the hunch backed teacher walking slowly with a bag heavy with note books of the children. She was seen stopping every ten steps and shifting the weighty bag from one shoulder to the other. He felt pity for the teacher though he was also the one amongst those who stood the last hour in the class. He hurried his pace and walked up to her and said”Ma’am, can I please carry your bag up to your home?”
“I can carry my own bag. I don’t need your assistance” she replied curtly.
“I know ma’am. I still wish to carry it for you as you seem to find it heavy” he answered her.
“Don’t pester me. Don’t you understand that I do not need your help? Go home” she said with certain irritation and finality as she started walking
Praveen kept following her at a safe distance though he should have turned left to reach his home. It was then to his shock, he saw his teacher trip over a stone and fall flat with the note books and papers spilling. He ran towards her and lent his hand to make her sit. He collected the scattered notebooks and papers and put them in the bag and hung it on his shoulder. She stood up and slowly trudged her way home with the boy by her side. Not one word was spoken. Probably she was shattered and in pain.
When she reached her small home, she asked the hesitant boy to come in. It was a one bed roomed tenement but neatly kept.
“Please wait. Let me change my clothes after a wash” she said as she switched on the fan.
The boy found pictures of Jesus on cross, Virgin Mary and a few other saints on the wall. There was a bible on the table with candles on the stand. He could see a rosary along side. He thought to himself she must be a devout lady though he could not understand why she was always serious.
She brought a plate with some cookies and a glass of fruit juice.
“Have it. Thank you very much. You were persistent in helping me. I would have struggled but for your help” she said with a smile. That was the first time he saw her smile and she looked better with that smile.
“Thank you ma’am for permitting me to carry the bag. You can give me any errand in the class. I would willingly do.Sorry, we could not answer your question in the class. Yesterday’s lesson was tough for all of us” he replied
“Some one could have told me. I would not have made you all stand for an hour. I was in a bad mood today as I got news of my grand ma’s death in the village. But I should not have shown my personal grief in the class like this” she said
The boy was touched by her frankness. He decided to tell all his classmates how nice Miss George really is.
The next day as Miss George entered the class all students stood up and said in a chorus with smile on their faces “good morning, miss”
It was the first time she received such an hearty ovation and welcome. She smiled at them for the first time and saw the happy face of Praveen from one of the benches.


  1. I read this with great interest..you have an art in bringing out the wonderful nature of human beings..

  2. Nice story. Sometimes people arent what they seem to be. We just tend to misunderstand them a lot of times.

  3. Even the rude teacher had a hidden softer side...nicely narrated, Partha Sir! Enjoyed reading it!

  4. That’s simple and neat …
    That’s an hour taken out from a school class room and you have done well to perfectly articulate situation… (as always :P)

    And yes, teachers, if they take their profession not as a business but as duty and responsibility , a lot can be done and a lot will change…

  5. Once again, a well written story.
    Imagining how much a smile can do, I think we should smile more often!

  6. Woww!! Soo Beautiful Written :) :) I Was Very Much Interested In Reading Your Write Up! You Are Highly Talented Story Writer, As U Know How To Attract The Reader's Mind :) :)