He is never late for class. He sits like a Buddha with a long nose (I’d like to touch that nose!). He drinks endless cups of tea. He brings boring lessons alive. He sniffs too often. He marks homework meticulously. Sometimes he calls out answers so fast that I have trouble keeping up. He is very frightening when he flies into a rage, but he cools down quickly. He can stay calm even in the midst of family crises. He takes out the garbage himself. Time flies in his class, we have so much fun. I had heard lots of nasty rumours about him, but the real man is very different. I am going to miss these classes…
That was the general tenor of the essays that the current batch of pupils in class 10 wrote about Suvro Sir. Some cheerfully read them out in class, some had to be coaxed, some submitted the essays for me to read because they were too shy to read them aloud, and many of them, of course, didn’t bother – I daresay the majority of them dislike me, or couldn’t care less, belonging to the type who only come to collect notes or because their parents have forced them in. It pleases me, rather, to see that so many kids did take the trouble and wrote so many nice and curious things – sometimes they give me tips which help me to improve – and also to see that nothing seems to change: their mothers and fathers were hearing the same rumours and writing the same sort of comments thirty years ago, and, if I live that long and carry on, their children will probably be doing the same. Mobile phones have not made any significant difference here, at least!
So thank you to those who wrote all the nice things: my blessings and good wishes. May you have gained something from me that will be of lasting value. As for the rest, go your own way, but try not to be mean and malicious afterwards out of sheer ignorance, stupidity and spite, as you have seen so many elders doing. Remember, it only says things about you, not about me. Remember, also, that something does not become either right or good or defensible just because mummy or daddy does it, whether it is talking on the phone while driving or spreading gossip born of idleness and envy. That is one of the very very wicked things that Indian parents manage to drive successfully into the heads of their children – they must be ‘thankful’ that two people brought them into this world, and thankfulness translates into covering up for those two all their lives!
There was a terrific thunderstorm on Friday evening, followed by torrential rain – the heaviest this year so far. I don’t know whether this is the first sign of the monsoon or whether this was some sort of ‘depression’ as the Met office likes to call them these days (the weather seems even more frequently ‘depressed’ nowadays than people are!), but from the very next morning it has been blazing again, besides being incredibly muggy – the downpour could have been a dream, were it not that the wet earth still bears testimony. This is the time of the year when only the airconditioners keep me going (and gift me with a bad cold that refuses to go away). Yet on a very hot June afternoon 34 years ago I bathed in the cold water of a deep well and fell fast asleep in the shade of a giant peepul tree in a village somewhere deep inside Bihar, waking up only when I was hungry again, and the sun was setting in crimson glory. Have I changed, or has the weather?
Talking of change, look at the picture below.
I have been seeing this advertisement frequently in the newspapers lately. (Another one, put out by some coaching class, I think, promises to develop the ‘killer instinct’ in children so that they have a better chance of being ‘successful’ in life). Most people have always been blindly, stupidly selfish, of course, and never found out the joy of sharing and caring, but has petty, vicious materialistic selfishness ever been preached to children as a good thing on a vast scale this way before? Just what kind of adults are these kids going to grow up into? Oh, I know, I have talked to a lot of people in their thirties and forties, and the commonest and most asinine thing they say is ‘Sir, you take things so seriously… amra moja korchhilam Sir, we were just having fun.’ I think of the ‘fun’ that the young adults of 2035 are going to have, those who will become teachers and policemen and politicians and parents then, and I remember the fun they had at Auschwitz.