Dear Teachers, Thank you.

‘I want drama! I want to be gripped by the words, forced to read more!’ With every word, her eyes got bigger and her excitement infected me. This was twenty-six years ago. The great work in question was a paragraph on a rainy day, and the person wanting to be gripped, my English teacher. I rewrote it. This time, it started with a thunder. The thunder has never stopped since then.

What if she had just put a lazy tick-mark across it and given me a seven out of ten? Lately, I have been thinking about that a lot. I would probably have never taken to writing. That thought leaves me cold. I cannot imagine a life without writing, without finding my balance. Thankfully, she decided to tell me that I have potential to do this better. She inspired me to keep learning. She gave me wings while keep my feet firmly on the ground. And I continue to do so. Learn. Write. Learn more.

So, the one day that we celebrate teachers is for her, though one day, one card, one rose, is just not enough for teachers like her. Syllabi, worksheets, revisions – they are not true education. Learning is never limited between the pages of the textbook alone. A true teacher makes us believe in ourselves, shows us the dreams that we ought to chase, and then sets out to build a bridge to that dream with us.

From influencing our career choice to the person we end up becoming these people-smiths, make or break us. We stay under their wings for a little over a decade and that time decides the course our future flight will take. My older one loves Hindi now, the subject that gave him nightmares earlier, thanks to the wonderful teacher he has this year. I have seen the boys’ interests fluctuate wildly with the kind of teachers they get every year.

Today, I am a teacher, and I constantly ask myself, am I doing enough? Am I telling someone to create more drama? To add that thunder? The lack of answer probably pushes me further – I try to make a difference, however miniscule. And we the teachers sometimes end up making a difference much larger than we imagine. I have heard a story of a student giving up the idea of killing herself because a teacher had encouraged the girl in class and taken the time out to patiently hear her troubles. That’s the power of a true teacher.

My nana was a lecturer too, and he has been gone for quite a few years now, yet strangers still turn up at mum’s doorstep to tell her that he had funded their education, or that he had bent over backwards to help them out at one time or the another. He never told us about it. That’s the sign of a true teacher.

I am usually opposed to the commercialisation of special days, but Teachers’ Day is an exception. One needs to honour the ones who relentlessly try to ignite minds, go out on a limb for their students, and embrace their dreams as their own. This species is an endangered one, in real peril of being wiped out. So this year too, early in the morning, you’ll find a half-asleep mum buying the specified number of roses.

The younger one has just prepared a tiny stack of cards that he is going to write out. As he sat surrounded by colours and paints, I asked him, ‘For whom?’

‘My favourite teachers.’

I smiled, and asked him to name them and he rattled off a few names.

‘That’s it?’

‘That’s it. I am lucky to have been in their class, mumma. Some kids have had no such fortune.’

I nodded and drifted back to my time. I too had only a handful few teachers who truly made a difference, and whom you could count on your fingers with a few to spare. The sight of him snipping paper and sprinkling glitter put my uneasy mind at rest. He has a handful good ones who will hopefully make him a better person, and who will make up for the ones who have lost sight of their true calling somewhere along the way.

As he stuck glitter over the last blob of glue, he asked, ‘Mum? How come some teachers lose temper at the first step out of line?’

The glitter sparkled as it caught the rays of the setting sun.

‘So that you make these cards for the rest, I guess.’

I do not justify to them or unnecessarily correct them. They know that they are never to be disrespectful to teachers, but they also accept that not all of them were born equal. Some outshine the others and make the kids absorb some of the afterglow. They make them shine forever. To those teachers, the little one writes out heartfelt messages every year. And when I see his cards, I smile and say a silent thanks to all those who have made me what I am, the one that told me to add the thunder, the one who made learning a way of my life, and the one who made me believe that everything is achievable and more importantly, that I am capable.

Originally posted at : Zenparent