Teacher's Day: 'He was a guide, mentor and friend'
We'd asked you, our readers, to tell us about your favourite teacher and we've been inundated with your entries. Here's the final set of responses we received:
Here, Ajit Pal Singh remembers the teachers who’ve left an indelible mark in his life
There are so many people who inspire, conspire and influence the mind of a child that to pick one of them and call them my favourite would be very difficult.
But there is always that one person who stands out in everybody's life -- the one who gives meaning to the words, teaches and forms principles, influences your thought pattern and in other words actually moulds you into a good human being.
I have been lucky to have a few such people in my life:
My father and my mother
They were the first teachers I had. They taught me right from wrong, left from right, how to stand, to eat, to drink, to speak and to do everything that I now know of.
I remember a few verses of a very old song once taught to me during my singing classes in school:
Mother of mine you gave to me, all of my life to do as I please,
I owe everything I have to you, mother sweet mother of mine...
This song truly captures my feeling for my first teachers (father and mother).
My Maths teacher, Ashok Ojha Sir
Like every kid I used to have a dread of numbers, the algebra x and y's were always an alien concept for me and the figures of trigonometry always baffled my logic.
I had developed such a phobia of this subject that I prayed to God to deliver me from anything related to maths.
Throughout classes VII, VIII and IX, I just scraped through and managed to score just 38 or 39 in the yearly average in maths, where the passing marks were 40.
However the school management passed me because I was good in the other subjects and topped some of them.
Then one fine day, when my parents were almost on the verge of kicking me out of the house for faring miserably in Maths my cousin sister referred her maths teacher to my mother.
I’d never been to a tuition class ever till that day.
But due to the coaxing (read aggressive) of my mother I had to go to him.
When I first met him at my cousin's house I thought he was a simple man. He was dressed in a plain white shirt (not tucked in) with black trousers, leather slippers, black umbrella and a khakhi shoulder bag.
He looked like a teacher, and I thought to myself that the next one hour of class was going to be my journey to hell.
From the moment he first addressed me and took me in, something clicked and somehow, he gradually built my confidence by challenging me.
I can’t describe to you how he did it, but towards the end of the year I’d started enjoying mathematics like literature and the other subjects.
I was shell shocked when I received my class 10 marksheet -- I had scored 88 marks in maths.
That evening when he came home, I touched his feet.
That night after the celebration parties were over my mother came to me and told me that Ashok Sir after the first tuition class had told her that I would score 85+ in Maths in class 10.
I felt goose bumps on my body when I heard this.
How could he have that much confidence in me, when I myself wasn’t even sure if I could clear my class 10 final exams.
Even today, he walks half the city in order to teach students.
He also teaches free to so many students whose parents cannot afford a tuition teacher.
He is single and has devoted his life to teaching ONLY.
A true epitome of an Indian guru, to this day after my parents, Ojha Sir is the most revered person in my life.
MN Singh Sir
After Ojha Sir, I became so confident in Maths that I easily sailed through 11th and 12th and chose Engineering to pursue as my graduation course.
In my first year of college I had a subject called Electro Magnetic Potential.
The harder I focused in understanding it the more lost and confused I seemed.
When exams approached, I chose to take the short-cut.
I prepared chits for the chapters which were beyond my grasp.
I had been a fairly good student in my BE course till then.
I had topped my batch in the first semester exams and was recognised as a good student by the teachers.
Unfortunately, on the day of exam our teacher M N Singh sir was supervising my class.
After spending almost half the time attempting the questions I knew, I decided to take the help of the chits I had prepared. .
As I took the chits out, M N Singh Sir stood next to me like a jinn.
I instantly broke out in a cold sweat.
M N Singh Sir was known to be a strict professor and a man of principles.
That day, when I looked at him, I saw in his face a look of dejection and sorrow, as if he had lost something.
Slowly, without drawing attention, he stretched his palms and asked me to hand over the chits.
Then he took my answer sheet from me. I knew that he was going to report this to the superiors.
I sat on my seat with the question paper and my open pencil box with fear in my heart.
This incident if reported could result in me getting expelled or even barred from appearing in all further exams.
It would be a dent in my student dossier and I would lose all respect in the college.
My parents would look down upon me, people would call me a cheater and in the next 15 minutes I had cooked up, in my head, all the possibilities of the dreadful things that would happen to me next.
Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder, it was M N Singh Sir.
My heart began to beat faster. I felt my blood drain from my body and a queasy feeling in my stomach.
When he asked me, “Do you want to continue?” I couldn't believe my ears.
M N Singh Sir, who was the most strict professor we had in the entire college was here giving me a second chance.
I just shook my head. Next, he placed my answer sheet on my table. As he turned, he just said: “Give it an honest shot!”
I don’t know what else I wrote on that answer sheet but after the exams were over I went to meet him to say sorry.
He gave me that angry look of his and brushed aside my apologies. He said: “I expect better from you. This will be your last mistake, now get lost!”
I ran out of the faculty room all teary eyed.
That year, I not only passed the paper but also topped my class.
I topped my stream every semester for the next three years and ended up topping my college and securing a second rank at the university level.
Today, I’d like to tell MN Singh Sir that it was indeed my last mistake!
Every now and then the teen adolescent rebel needs a mature head to guide their energies towards a positive direction.
Subbarao Sir assumed the role of a motivator, guide, mentor and friend.
He was our agony aunt or uncle as you may call him and he shone as the lone beacon for us to seek help from.
We are still in touch with him; he is the bridge who connects us with our alma mater even after all these years.
I would like to thank all the above teachers and many others who have been an influence and guided us in our lives.
I may have forgotten many teachers in the list above, some of whom came into our lives for a very small period but left deep impressions and then many who taught us things unconsciously…today, I would like to thank all of them.
Next, we received this response from Naquib Imam who thanks his teacher who first taught him to hold the pencil:
Dear Teachers I have no words to praise you but I still remember those days when I was transfigured from a toddler into a naughty child.
It was your routine to take me to your play school.
During the course of playing games, you taught me to identify alphabets and numerals
I still remember the day when I tried to grip the pencil using all my five fingers.
Teacher you are the one who taught me to hold the pencil with three fingers.
Gradually, I grew smart enough to write everything.
Sir, today you are far away from me. Perhaps you can’t identify the naughty boy but I do realise that whatever I’m in my life today is because of what you’ve taught me and I respect you for all your effort to uplift me to this stage.
Professors, I was a stranger to you but your experience identified me and my nature quickly because after all you are a teacher.
It was my routine to come late to class but you still allowed me to attend them all.
Most of the time I used sleep in your lectures but you never expelled me.
On this special day my best wishes to all those teachers from whom I’ve learned something new.
I’m falling short of words to express my feelings.
I would like to wish all my teachers a very Happy Teacher's Day.
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Image: For representational purposes only
Photographs: Rediff Archives
Teacher's Day: 'He was a guide, mentor and friend'
Finally, we have Ramanan Natarajan who pays his tributes to his teacher who helped him get to where he is today:
I am very happy that I can set aside some time and recall those great souls called teachers and write some tributes to them.
Right from my kindergarten until I graduated, I had the blessings to have been taught by some great teachers.
The key learning period from 6th to 10th standard was a great time for me at SAV Higher secondary School in Tuticorin.
I remember of Mr Sankararaman who taught me solid mathematical skills.
I remember of Mr Rajendran who has taught science so well to me.
I remember of Mr Sankaralingam who was fluent in Tamil and motivated me to love language.
However, it is Mr Venkatraman who taught me English and social sciences in my 9th and 10th standard whom I would remember the most.
He wanted to ensure all his students passed. His approach was very simple. He wanted to teach his students the basics very well.
When we completed our half yearly exams and the time came for the revision exams, he has held special classes for all of us and has re-taught English and social sciences so well.
He taught all students the basics of English grammar. He believed if the basics were taught well, we would be able to speak and write English fluently.
He also ensured he has taught his students an easy way to remember the location of the countries in the world map.
He brought a map he had purchased himself for this purpose. His expectation was that by rigorously training students on these, he can help them pass the exams. It did work for many people.
I used to be the topper but I was weak in English.
His grammar lessons during the 'revision exams' period helped me to the extent that I still owe my English skills to him. It was the foundation he laid during that time that helped me gain a reasonably good command over the language.
However, the most important and vital gift that I received from him was probably my life itself.
My father was a very sincere non-corrupt government Officer. When I completed my 10th standard, he was 55 and had only three years of service left before he retired.
We were a middle class family and he wanted me to join a Diploma course and find a job in three years.
The results came out; I was third in my school but my father was keen that I should join a Diploma course primarily because he was had a health condition and wanted me to be independent as soon as possible.
On the other hand, I wanted to do Class XII and study engineering.
That was when Mr Venkatraman stepped in and told him that I stood a good chance to get admission in a government engineering college whose fees wouldn’t burn a hole in his pocket.
He convinced my father that he could make a difference to my life by supporting my education.
I made sure I never let my father down, passed my class 12 examinations with good score and joined Coimbatore Institute of Technology which was one of the best engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu. I studied well in engineering too and got a campus placement in TCS.
I have been with TCS for the last 16 years as a senior Delivery manager.
I have visited several countries and am still going strong.
If I look back my life, I still think I owe a lot and lot to Mr Venkatraman.
He was the one who put my career on the right track.
I don't even know his whereabouts now (I feel guilty to say this).
But, I take this opportunity to thank him for the wonderful life I am enjoying today. Thanks a lot Sir!