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The life lesson my Oxford professor taught me

By Dr Sumit Paul
Last updated on: April 04, 2019 14:07 IST
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We'd asked you, dear readers to tell us what is the one life lesson you would want to share.

Rediff reader Dr Sumit Paul wrote about the life-transforming lesson he learnt from his Oxford professor.

You can share your responses too. Scroll down to find out how.  

IMAGE: Dr Sumit Paul. 

Those were my early days at Balliol College, Oxford, UK, where I studied under an exchange programme.

My English lacked fluency and among all whites, I was the only non-white student.

Though teachers were happy with my performance, they never encouraged me the way they used to encourage the other white students.

This saddened me all the more because I always believed that racism and colour consciousness existed among those, who were less enlightened. But I was wrong.

Students, having elite backgrounds, used to jeer at my English diction and a few teachers would subtly make me realise that whites were far better than other races.

You may not believe that this happens at world's finest college. But there's no exaggeration or an attempt to get sympathy.

Racism and colour consciousness are still the massive realities all over the world.

But I was lucky to have met Professor Edmund Blunden, who later taught me Comparative Religions at Oxford and was my first Doctoral guide.

He empathised with my predicament and encouraged me to stay back.

His words still echo in my consciousness: 'Religion, colour, caste and nationality are all accidents of birth.'

We all happen to be whites, browns and blacks.

Professor Blunden told me that all human beings are more or less racists. We may call ourselves egalitarians but in reality, we still unwittingly differentiate among people.

The enlightening words of Professor Blunden made me understand that it wasn't my mistake to be born with a brown or black skin.

Mankind will take thousands (not centuries) of years to rise above all racial and colour prejudices and love each other irrespective of country, class, creed and colour.

At this juncture of my life, when I look back and introspect, I remember Professor Blunden with a deep sense of gratitude for enabling me to see the world sans any presupposition.

Today, I can say with utmost honesty that I've gone far beyond the silly prejudices of colour, country, class, creed, continent, culture and civilisation.

Now my vision is all-encompassing and far from being hidebound.

Thanks a ton, professor Blunden. All I can say, 'My cheeks have often been bedewed/ With tears of thoughtful gratitude.' (Robert Southey)


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