While I was leaving for my evening walk, a phone call from a student left me completely baffled. “Ma’am, will you be coming to the college tomorrow?” I was taken aback by this strange query. “Why not? Is it a holiday tomorrow?” was my instant reaction. Pat came the reply, “Ma’am, it’s your birthday.” I was dumb struck. Sensing my predicament, Aditi, in her sweet and gentle voice, told me that the class was planning to celebrate my birthday. So she wanted to confirm my presence in the college for the day. As if it was not enough to stump me, she further asked me, though hesitatingly, that I should be dressed in pink since the dress code for the occasion was pink. I was bowled over by this strange request. Caught off guard, not knowing how to react and what to say, I simply laughed it away.
The next day, while getting ready for the college, I was in a dilemma- whether to adhere to the suggested colour code or to ignore it. Though I found it funny for a woman of my age to be swayed by the enthusiasm of young girls, yet it was difficult for me to dismiss their loving command. I could not help pulling out a pink saree from my wardrobe. There I was, dressed up in pink, delivering a lecture in the class as usual. After the end of the first period, my post graduate students, all decked up in different shades of pink, trooped into my class. What followed was a birthday bash complete with a chocolate cake, a ‘king size’ greeting card and a sweet little gift. I was overwhelmed…..
Of course, this was one freak celebration in my teaching career of more than three decades. But it is also a fact that sometimes students can make you feel really special. It is then, you realize how rewarding and fulfilling the teaching profession is. The regard which college teachers get from their students may be nothing in comparison to the adoration that a school teacher enjoys, yet at times even grown up and mature students can touch your heart with their sweet gesture-it may be a greeting card, a stem of rose on teacher’s day or just a few lines of gratitude. But needless to say, the most gratifying is the reverence in their eyes.
‘Teachers have greater opportunity to be revered than any other members of the community.’ These words of wisdom, adorning the wall of my college corridor, never let me forget that onus of translating this opportunity into reality rests on me. I must remember respect is to be earned and not demanded.
( HT Chandigarh 25 Aug 2014 )