Thursday, July 21, 2005


A few months back I was returning to my place after attending my cousin's wedding in Dharwad. There was an elderly man in the opposite seat in front of me in the train. My uncle had come to see me off at the station. We( me and my uncle) were talking to each other so I didn't notice this man much. He too had a group of 4/5 people to see him off with whom he was talking.

After the train left the station, he received 4/5 phone calls on his mobile. To every caller he said he was leaving and had no idea when he would be coming back. After about half an hour the train stopped at Hubli, the next station. There was quite a group waiting to meet my fellow traveller. All young boys and girls between 15-20. Each one bowed in front of the gentleman and he touched/patted their heads. Then they all barged inside the train, touched his feet with reverence and took his blessings. Again he touched everybody on the head, indicating he was blessing/ accepting their respect. They kept asking when he would come back to see them, why not come next month etc. They all looked at him with devotion, and he looked at them with tender love, like a mother, advicing them.

'You study harder', he said to one.

'You need to be more confident, other than that, you do not have any problem'. He told another.

'Take care of your health', he advised a third person. He advised them looking at them in the eye, one after another. His voice was full of tenderness for those students . For that's what they were. His students.

As the train whistled indicating departure, they all looked at him as if they wanted to capture his face forever in their minds. A couple of girls were crying.
'Why? Why are you crying? ' he asked in shaky voice. Even the boys were kind of serious faced, as if they too wished to cry but couldn't/wouldn't. As I looked at them, the loving, caring teacher who was going away and his students who were feeling sad because the teacher was going away, I could feel the attachment between the teacher and the students. Just looking at them, I too felt my eyes tear up. I had never seen any of them before. But I could feel the bond between them. I experienced a kind of jealousy of them both. I wished I had some teacher who was like that.

When I was studying in school and college, I did have good teachers. They all taught me what ever they knew of the subject. They gave me knowledge. But I do not think they connected with me as a person. They did not inspire me. I do not remember any of my teachers with the kind of reverence I saw on the faces of those students. And I envied them for having that kind of person as a teacher. I felt they were so lucky.

As a freelance teacher, I wondered if I connected with any of my students in that way. Whether I would be able to connect with my futur students like that? I sincerely hope so!

After the train started , I let a few minutes pass before I spoke to him. I felt he needed some time by himself. I too needed that time to trust myself to speak without letting my voice become shaky.

He confirmed that he was a lecturer in an engineering college and they were his students. He had retired and was going back to his native place.

'You are very popular with them. They seem so attached to you. ' I said.

'They are my children. I do not have any other family.' He said.

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