Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Teachers' Day

I refuse to be cynical about Teachers' Day. So here is me wishing a happy Teachers' Day to -

Miss Mabel, my class teacher when I was in classes 2 and 3, who wore tailored pencil skirts that reached to just below her knees and always put her hair up in a loose bun that never came undone. Boy, was she pretty. She was sweet, dedicated, and never got angry, but always managed to have perfect discipline inside her classroom. That woman had class. Most importantly for me, she gave me certificates for things like "cleanliness" and good marks; when I topped the class at the final class 3 exams, she presented to me a hardbound copy of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, out of her own pocket. She hooked me on Victorian fiction for life. What an amazing lady - I hope she's been blessed, wherever she is.

Miss Helen, the statuesque Hindi teacher who spoke her own unique brand of Mizo.When none of us displayed the slightest interest in learning Hindi, she was able to motivate us. If none of us were very fluent in Hindi, it was our fault, not hers. If nothing else, we all wrote flawless Devanagari script, beautiful, precise, and neat. Not that we understood half of what we wrote.

Sr. Christita at Mary Mount school, who made me go back to school after I had decided to 'drop out' in class 7 because of the school bully. I refused to attend school for an entire month, but she made numerous trips to my home, talking to me, my parents, cajoling, hugging, and finally persuading me to return with the assurance that the bully would be dealt with. Last I heard, he was in prison for some juvenile crime, but that's another story.

The Revd. Presley Lyngdoh. Princi, as he was fondly called. What a character. Always formal, always polite, always scary. A stickler for decorum. Sir Wasan Elwin, son of celebrated anthropologist Verrier Elwin, whose razor-sharp mind always delighted, terrified, and instructed.

Miss Tuni Gill at St. Mary's College, who made us stage Pygmallion, or more precisely, My Fair Lady. I managed to hide in the wings (literally) but her enthusiasm was contagious. Miss Dincola, who played the piano and spoke English with an impeccable British intonation.

Prof. Esther Syiem, who always treats students with courtesy and respect. She shows that being a teacher isn't all about scaring people and imposing rules. Always refined, always down-to-earth. She is also a little absentminded. She once told somebody that she had two children, two lovely girls, when the third child tugged at her hand and whispered, "but Mei (mother), you have THREE! You forgot me." She hopes her poor son will not be traumatized for life by that event.

Also, I would acknowledge all those who taught outside the classroom, too numerous to mention. The good and the bad. Life gives you these little lessons through people that cross your path. The ones that love, the ones that leave, the ones that provide strength and support, the ones that make you stronger by their absence. I have laughed, cried, yelled, ranted, waxed eloquent, pondered, raged... and through it all I have learnt. And I still learn. Thank you, teachers; thank you, Life.