My childhood teachers were mostly either ignorant of their students, or too violent with them. To add to it, was the constant pressure of parents to please the teachers and claim good grades. Hence, after being trashed by several teachers, many times without doing anything wrong specifically, my child brain had concluded that there must a bad demon who produces all teachers, and that all teachers just like hitting us.
This may seem a funny thought to you, but for a small growing child, it was a major catastrophe. Firstly, the constant fear in front of teachers, second, the growing rebellion of not being able to react back to them (the discipline of 90’s) and lastly, the drifting of mind away from the subjects taught by those teachers.
Now if I was not able to learn anything in classes, always fear in my lectures and feel angry inside on seeing my teachers, how could I grow better?
Now for the good act of a single teacher.
There was a Singh Ma’am, who taught us History, the subject hated by all. She was an old woman then, perhaps in her late 50’s. I remember she was a loud teacher, but taught very slowly. Which meant she was always on the lookout to get extra periods from teachers who had finished their course before exams. Extra period, that too for History. Damn!
So this one fine day, it was our weekly period of Physical Education, the period we wait for the entire week as it let’s us play sports. But sadly, as the P.E. teacher entered the class to take them to the ground, Singh ma’am appeared from the corridors, requesting him of his period! The students roared in rebellion. My fault : I roared a little late. So when she turned and everyone stopped, she spotted me still shouting and decided to make me an example.
She came to my desk, slapped my 6 times across the face, 3 on the right, 2 on the left, one nasty one on the neck, while I was trying to dodge them. She cursed me in school allowed format before she started teaching the class.
I was again sad. I remember shivering with fear, guilt, anger and humiliation. The whole class shouted, a deaf person could tell. But since she couldn’t beat them all, and couldn’t let it go without setting an example, she chose the weakest link and trashed the shit out of him. I couldn’t concentrate.
During that period of 40 min, I spent the first 20 trying to get over my emotions, and second twenty trying to find ways to hurt my teacher. This is a serious school of thought for a child yet to become a teen.
After the period, she did something incredible.
She came up to my desk, I stood up. I was so afraid, couldn’t look in her eyes. She apologized for hitting me, she actually did! The first time I ever saw that happen!
Tears brimming her eyes and effecting her voice, she said,
“It was weak and wrong of me to hit you like that. Please forgive me. Teachers are also humans, just like how your mother would be. Sometimes they loose their cool when the kids they want to teach, irritate them. Please don’t mind, I never meant to hurt you.”
Till this day, I remember her and the incident. This was a pivotal point in my life, where I understood how wrong I was in tackling my attitude towards teachers and teaching. She could have gone by after hitting me, like they all did. But when she stayed back to apologize, everything changed. The kid in me, changed.