Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A tribute to a teacher

An old post I am repeating though a bit delayed for the Teachers day

I was in class 8 I think when I had Mr.Govindarajan (we called him GR Sir) for my class teacher. From my sieve like memory I clearly remember that he was short and frail with a small physical frame and unkempt hair and appeared much older than his early fifties. But I cannot forget the twinkle in his kindly eyes and the ever present mischievous smile in his face that belied the initial impression one got of him. His witty and lively classes, however drab the subjects were, made him very popular amongst the boys in the school. Despite his bubbly humour and warmth, there was a certain aloofness inhibiting any intimacy or liberties. He knew well how to instill and inspire confidence in his pupils and in making them believe that they can achieve whatever goal they had set for themselves. He never derided even the weak students and took trouble to explain the lessons again and again. He used to devote invariably the last 10 minutes of his class to kindle the interest of the boys in general subjects and expand their mental horizon. There was some innate charm about him and his teaching method that we wouldn’t have willingly foregone his classes. A wise master, he inspired awe in his abilities and earned the respect of one and all including his peers. He had surprisingly a soft trait in that he could not be harsh even on impish and roguish boys when occasions demanded it. When any boy complained of slightest physical discomfort, he never looked askance but sent him home immediately for rest.

For reasons not known to me, he took a special liking for me possibly because I lived very close to his house. He used to give me small errands occasionally like getting chalk pieces from the office. It was one day when he entered the class unusually late by a few minutes; he looked distinctly fatigued and distraught.

He called me near him and whispered ”Partha, I went to hospital this morning to admit my aged mother who is suffering from acute Asthma. It was an emergency and I am coming directly from there after she stabilized. You know my house. Can you please collect the lunch from my wife? Tell her that I was held up and couldn’t come home. Also tell her that doctors are attending on my mother and that I would be going to hospital directly from the school.”

I virtually ran to his house that was close to school. It was a small two room side portion, dark and dingy. After I conveyed the message I was waiting for the lady to pack the lunch. I could see in the dark and bare hall a small boy of my age huddled on a mat. When he saw me, he tried to get up but could not. He made some unintelligible guttural noises that brought his mother scurrying to his side. She said “Lie down quietly and I will come in a minute to you after sending lunch to appa”
I blurted foolishly “Aunty is he not well? He is not getting up and is making strange sounds.”

She turned to me attempting to hide a tear and said before going to kitchen” Yes, he is very unwell and cannot walk on his own. He cannot speak and is not a normal child.”

It struck me then that he was not only polio affected but also mentally retarded. What a cruel punishment to have befallen on the excellent and loving teacher who never betrayed even in an unguarded moment the piteous and depressing scene at home. An aged sick mother frequently on bouts of asthma, an abnormal child with no future, a small decrepit home and low emoluments is a deadly combination that no ordinary person can withstand. I wondered how this man’s devotion to his duty and amiable disposition remained unshaken by such extreme personal disappointments. My esteem for him grew boundless when I remembered his natural dignity, infectious warmth of spirit and willingness to walk the extra mile to teach the slow children till they understood. He never allowed his private grief to intrude in the call of his duty.

Education for him is something more than book learning. For him it is an initiation of the young and eager minds into the wonders of the world and life where time and money played little part at personal level. The memory of such a great but simple teacher of the past abides like a perfume even after the lapse of long years. Such rich contentment and serene detachment are no common possessions of ordinary mortals.


  1. A salute to GR Sir!

    Thank you for sharing about this extraordinary teacher.

  2. very fine tribute to a very distinguished person..people like him teach us so much in life, they are an inspiration.

  3. Now I know the secret. Its because of this teacher you are so brainy.

  4. Thank you...GR Sir is a great man indeed.

  5. Hats off to GR Sir, who is an example for Simple living and High Thinking. Inspiration knows no boundaries and even Life's challenges cannot perturb it. :)

  6. Ya.. some people influence us in a great deal, with their charector and help us gain confidence.. thanks a lot for sharing this!

  7. Such an emotional post... Teaching is not just a profession know.. You have leave behind all your worries at home and be a symbol of inspiration to students. How tough is that.. A big salute you GR sir.

  8. Teachers have a great impact in our life. I was not lucky enough to have a good teacher for Maths, thats the reason why I never liked Maths.

    But I must thank God cos I had very good teachers for Languages and Economics.

    Thanks for sharing this.


  9. Tharani,
    Please give me your bloglink

  10. onarollercoasterride.wordpress.com

  11. Some teachers are God sent...that's all I can say..
    they nourish our future and make it glow with their warm touch of kindness and devotion.

  12. This post is great and an apt one for the Teachers' day, Partha Sir! Your GR Sir, must have been a great teacher/personality, to influence you this much.

    I remember my children excelling well in the subjects which their favourite teachers taught! Teachers influence the students' lives in many ways, which we may not be able to pin point even.

  13. Good one Partha
    I regret much for not being like GR
    sir.Begining to understand and changing my attitude.