Monday, September 27, 2010

This is life

I am disturbed ever since morning. From the time I opened my eyes I was in a disturbed state of mind. I some how managed to dress up and go to work. As I wasn’t keeping well I decided I would use the public transport. I boarded a KSRTC bus from my place but to my bad luck I couldn’t find a place to rest my bottom. I was standing trying to balance myself on speeding bus along the potholed roads. I was swaying forward and backward and occasionally towards my right and left and every time I changed position my heavy bag was hitting a woman who was sitting on a seat. With my left hand clutching to a seat and my right hand on the handrail, at the slightest jerk of the bus, my bag oscillated at a speed twice to that of the jerk.

I did not realize that my bag was being a nuisance to the lady until I heard her grumble,

“Oru 50 kilo yumayi angi kayarikolum….manushayare minakeduthan. Bag angu mati pidikke.” [“will get in with a 50 kilogramme bag to trouble people. Keep that bag away”]

There was no use charging at the already ‘angry bull’. Silence is golden thought I. I made sure that the bag was never to hit the lady again. It was then I noticed the lady sitting on that seat. She looked as though she was in her early sixties – a dark woman very shabbily dressed. She was wearing a deep purple blouse and a off-white mundu had already turned light brown due to the absence of washing. She had a piece of the set covering her head. Her arms, wrist and fingers were also covered with that piece of cloth. She was a poverty stricken woman and that was very clear from her physical appearance.

I started giving her occasional looks. It was then I realized that she was a leper. She fingers were just stubs. She had red patches near her fingers. I felt a chill going down my spine. My entire body was numb. I could feel the blood draining out of my face. I cannot explain the feelings that went through my mind. I felt my head reeling. I had touched the place where she had touched. My bag was falling on her. My chest was feeling heavy. Was I choking or was there a blank out????? I am not sure. I moved out from that place and stood in another place. I did not look at her again. I somehow reached my work place and washed all the areas that were exposed.

I felt giddy the whole day. I had a very bad headache and wanted to vomit. I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing. I took a half day leave and got back home. I did not have my lunch as nothing went down my throat. Her fingers and the red patches were coming to my mind.

I realized that I was a very rude person. I show my love and sympathy to animals, How come when it came to a human being I reacted this way????? I realized that I was a hypocrite. I cannot practice what I preach. This is life!!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

There is a time for everything

These are my favourite lines

To everything there is a season, and
a time to every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and
a time to die;
a time to plant, and
a time to pluck up
that which is planted;

A time to kill, and
a time to heal;
a time to break down, and
a time to build up;

A time to weep, and
a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and
a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and
a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and
a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and
a time to lose;
a time to keep, and
a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and
a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and
a time to speak;

A time to love, and
a time to hate;
a time of war; and
a time of peace.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The 5th of September

Today is September 5th…..Teachers’ Day. My students gave me a little bouquet and a card yesterday. Though I accepted it and thanked my students, I pondered for a while…. Am I really fit for this job? This was a profession which I thought that I would never go into. I was totally unfocused and never knew which profession to follow even after my Post Graduation. I had an array of professions in front of me. Not knowing what to do and listening to my husband’s ‘valuable advice’ I came into this profession. I keep cursing myself for coming into this because I was and am never a good teacher. If given an opportunity I would be ready to leave this and choose another profession or opt for voluntary retirement. Wrapping the five and a half meter cloth and standing in front of students is such a boring affair. In order to teach for an hour one has to prepare at least for two hours. If I have a doubt I’ll have to search it in the net. I have to keep myself updated. Though I love doing this, I hate to stand in front of students to teach.

Before coming into teaching I had at least a dozen of other ambitions. I can remember going to the hospital quite often when I was a little girl. I would open my mouth in awe at the nurses. Their spotless, crisp white blouse, their white knee length skirt, their knee length stockings, white shoes and the nurses’ cap attracted me to no end. I have had a fascination for good clothes and an ego to hurt all those who hurt me in thoughts, words or deeds. I liked their cheerful disposition. I was scared of injections. I wanted to wear their dress and “poke” everyone who irritated me. This was my very first ambition. For three years I wanted to be a nurse.

My next ambition was to be a bus conductor. Oh God!!!! How I loved it!!!!! I loved the tickets of various hues, their small leather bag under their armpit and the steel whistle of the conductor. I made it a point to collect these tickets from the road side when ever I went out alone. I would carefully collected it from the roadside as I walked along. By the time I finished walking a kilometer I would have had at least around 20-25 tickets. I never dared to show it to my Mum or to my siblings as they were ‘sneakers’ and my Mum totally discouraged my picking up waste materials from the roadside. I would pretend to be a conductor when I was alone by issuing tickets to my dolls. I would blow the red whistle at regular intervals. I remember my brother telling me that only men could become conductors and I told him that I would at least marry a bus conductor when I became big.

I don’t know when I lost my interest in conductors. My ambition was transformed from a conductor to a district collector. I thought it was an easy profession and that I would qualify the civil service examination with the ease of passing the second standard!!!!

By the time I had reached my 9th standard I wanted to be a hair dresser. I thought that was the best profession to follow. I would assume myself to be the hair stylist and using a pair of scissors from the dissection box I would go on cutting in the air. I cannot explain the joy I received from it. I still remember the day when my ICSE results were announced…. The headmistress asked me what I was planning to do and I confidently said that I wanted to become a hair dresser. She was shocked. She said I had to do my degree before I thought of becoming one. I lost that interest when Mum told me that it was such a “dirty” profession as I would have to wax other peoples’ legs and armpits. With that, my dreams of becoming a hair dresser disappeared into the thin air.

Then the lawyer profession attracted me. As I mentioned earlier I was always fascinated by good clothes. The court dress - the black robe, their white frilled collar and every thing in them attracted me. I imagined myself of becoming a lawyer and then becoming a judge. I also pictured myself in the wig and the gavel in my hand calling out “order, order”, sitting in front of the blindfolded Lady Justice with a scale and a sword. I have only seen lawyers near the Vanchiyoor court. I continued this dream until I completed my Pre-degree. I wanted to go for Law and so did my friend. My Mum strongly protested against my idea of joining the Law College.

The explanation she gave me was
“Ninte koottu shari alla. Pokan pattilla.” (“Your friends are not good. You cannot go.”)
No amount of tears would move her. I tried my tears, my threatening that I would discontinue my studies and everything possible. Nothing made my Mum soft. I tried arguing with her and she said that it would be difficult for me to deal with clients as I had a language problem. She asked me take up English Literature for my degree as it had a good scope. I refused to listen to her and took up a subject in which I had no interest just to irritate her. I lost all interest in my studies. I joined college politics. I contested in college union elections and this led to my downward trend in my studies. I would justify my declining interest in studies by saying that to end up in someone’s kitchen I did not need a B.A degree.

By the time I completed my BA I developed a liking for MBA. I joined Brillance College in Chennai (then Madras) for CAT entrance coaching. I was aiming IIMs but did not even qualify for the MBA course at Cochin University. My fat hopes of sitting in a revolving chair with my own PA and bossing over people were dashed. I had to join for my PG at a very reputed institution in Trivandrum. Most of my classmates were rank holders from other universities. I detested going to college as I couldn’t get along with those brainy people with very little human feelings. They were obsessed with books and marks whereas I was more interested in enjoying life. When life became miserable I stopped going to college. I was more like a Mahabali in college. If Mahabali visited his people once a year, I visited my college a bit more frequently…twice a month.

By the time I was doing my PG, I completely lost interest in my studies due to personal reasons. I just wanted a job. I was willing to do any job. All that I wanted was enough money to buy two packets of Maggi Noodles everyday. I never thought about the expenses I would have to incur when I lived alone. I dreamt of taking a flat on rent in Bangalore and living alone with no one to disturb me. I just wanted Rs.500 for my expenses every month. I was willing to do any work from a receptionist to a sales girl. I realized these were only dreams which would never materialize. As soon as my PG examinations were over I got married and that was the end of my dreams of living alone and eating Maggi noodles.

It was only after my marriage that I even thought of the teaching profession. Every one told me that it was a noble profession and that a teacher got a lot of respect from the society. Finally I did my B.Ed and became a teacher. Only after I became a teacher I realized that it was not at all an easy profession to follow. A teacher has to take a lot of care of one’s behaviour, dressing, in dealing with people and a whole lot of other things. I started hating the profession. With my ‘no care’ attitude it was difficult for me to face my students. I had to sacrifice my midis, frocks, jeans and pants. I had to keep wearing a sari day after day, month after month and year after year. Even at home I have to be careful about my dress code. A teacher is likely to bump into a student even when he/she is in town or out of station. I have had a number of occasions where I felt very awkward when I met my old students.

A couple of years back I went to Veegaland. I was confident that I would not bump into any of my students. I was in the wave pool happily playing in the water. While coming out of the water I saw someone smiling at me. I couldn’t recognize him. He walked up to me and looked at me from top to bottom and said,
“Good evening teacher” and then continued,
“Xina teacher ale?” (“Are you Xina teacher?”)

The call “teacher” made me shudder. Is he my student? I am standing there wearing a lycra tights and a t-shirt completely drenched in water.

“Athe.”….Then looking at him puzzled, I asked “Ara? Manasilayillelo.” (“Yes.” “I cannot recognize you”)

He told me his name and I immediately recognized him. He was an old student of mine. It seems he is a teacher and has brought his students for a trip to the amusement park. Not even in my wildest dream did I imagine to meet someone I knew in a distant place. That was and is still a big problem of being into the teaching profession and the biggest problem is everywhere you will find someone who knows you. I have lost my privacy. I have lost my freedom. I have lost my patience.

This morning an old student of mine rang me up to wish me. He makes it a point to call me and wish me on my birthday, on Teachers’ day, on Christmas, Onam and Easter. He also rings up to get my blessings before he does something. How did I influence him? Was I a guide to him? Or did I inspire him? Or did I discipline him? I don’t think I ever did any of these things to him.

I took a resolution this morning that I should try to love this profession, instead of brooding. Let me see if I can love my students, guide and inspire them. I guess I will be able to do it. Let us wait and see.