“Ganesan, I welcome you to the department.Savitri madam has gone on maternity leave for six months. You handle the classes she was taking. I know it is for a short duration. Let us hope something comes up in six months time as we are expanding” said Gyanasagaram, the head of department for Mathematics
“Thank you, Sir. I pray that I would be able to continue here as a regular teacher. I need the job as I have a large family to support” I replied.
“I know that you have your mother and four siblings to take care of. Six months is a long time. Things can change for the better. Do not worry. God will find a way for you” he spoke in a comforting tone.
Thanks again, Sir. I need your blessings. I will give my heart and soul to the job” I added
Though the emoluments for a temporary teacher were paltry, the new income helped me in keeping the hearth at home warm. Gyanasagaram who was nearing 60 took a paternal interest in me and frequently enquired about my work and the support needed. He also complimented me that the feedback he got from the students and some of the parents was flattering and added that he had mentioned about my good work to both the Headmaster and correspondent.
My brothers were still in the school with the sister learning typing. My mother fell sick often needing treatment. I was struggling to make both ends meet with my meagre income. One day Gyanasagaram told me that he was coaching a few boys from another school and that he found it a burden. He asked me whether I can help him by taking tuition for these boys. I knew inwardly he was doing this to help me overcome my difficult circumstances but made it appear as if I was doing him a favour.I was touched by his kindness and could do nothing but hold his hands on my heart in deference as tears swelled in my eyes. The added income made things easy for me though the sense of guilt that I was depriving him of his income was pricking me.
The six months tenure was drawing to a close. It was then Gyanasagaram paid a surprise visit to my house. My mom was very sick and lay curled in bed. I had to take her to a doctor. The shelves in the kitchen were empty. Poverty was writ large on our faces and the house. The loss of job and the regular income were staring at me. School fees had to be paid. I was at my wits end. There was nothing to offer to my benefactor except a glass of water. He sized up the situation in no time. He did not speak much and left after a few minutes.
Three days later I was called by the Headmaster as soon as the school hours started. That was the last day. I knew I have been called to be informed that my tenure was over and that my services were no longer necessary. I found the school correspondent also seated with him.
“Good morning, Ganesan.We are sorry your tenure will be over from today.Savitri will be joining tomorrow. We are very happy at the sincerity and devotion you had shown in your work. Parents keep telling me how pleased their children are with you and your teaching. What is your future plan?”
With an attempt to restrain the tears, I said “I have no idea. I need this job most but I am aware my term has ended. I dread the forthcoming days.” Choked with emotion I could continue no more. The headmaster stood up and came near me. Patting me on my shoulders he said “Do not worry. You will continue to work with us hopefully on regular basis. Please attend the school as usual.”
Bewildered at the turn of events I looked at him in utter disbelief. The Headmaster smiled at me and said “Go to your benefactor and prostrate before him. Gyanasagaram has applied for voluntary retirement on personal grounds effective from tomorrow. I asked him for reasons. He did not tell anything except that he was comfortable with his well employed sons and that he can hang his boots without any inconvenience. He specifically requested me to employ you on regular basis. I personally feel that he took this decision impelled by a wish to help you. He used to come to me frequently pleading for one more regular teacher for his department to accommodate you. When I told him last week that the management had turned down the proposal, he submitted his papers two days later. He refused to withdraw despite our persuasion.”
I rushed to his house the same evening only to be told by his son “Dad had left with mom on a long pilgrimage. He wished that I should convey his felicitations to you on your extension in case you visited the house. I had never seen him happier than when he took his retirement.”
"Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting."
~ Elizabeth Bibesco
~ Elizabeth Bibesco