At a time when Nintendo DS and Wii had not taken over as children’s only means of keeping themselves entertained, when the TV had just one channel, when computers were not considered home appliances and toys did not need batteries, at such a time if you looked into our Allahabad home you would find my sister keeping herself busy teaching students.
A teddy bear was the one student that was visible to us. The other students were invisible. You could call them imaginary, but then, they answered her questions, handed in assignments and got shouted at when they did not do their homework. My sister would sit on the bed surrounded by her invisible class and teach them using a slate chalkboard. She would take their assignments (which were probably some old notebooks of her earlier classes) and then check them using a pen. Day after day after day, that was her primary indoor pastime, and becoming a schoolteacher was her dream.
I remembered those scenes when she informed me this week that she had got a job as a teacher in one of the better-known girls’ schools in Kolkata. She is teaching mathematics to classes VI to XI and she’s even the class teacher of a section of class VIII. She was overjoyed when she walked into the classroom and everybody stood up saying “Goodmorning ma’am” in unison. Evidently, although I have difficulty in imagining someone referring to my little sister as ma’am, she is held in high esteem by her students. Coming to think of it, I realize that some of my own teachers at school had been pretty young when they taught us, and that fact never diminished our respect for them in any way.
I am so happy for her... I wanted to write a blog post on this occasion, and now that I have actually started writing it I realize I don’t have much to say about the matter. It is a thing to be felt and not described. When you see some near and dear one dream of something from early childhood and then see them achieve that goal years later in life, the kind of elation you feel is quite beyond words. At least my words.
But when I see some children of the current generation (especially here in the USA) I wonder whether they will ever get that feeling of achieving their dream. Imagination and creativity are actively discouraged these days and someone who sits teaching imaginary students would probably freak parents out. Besides, the other kids would label them nerds. They would rather play video games, visit online forums and watch TV when indoors. Everybody is happy that way.
At the cost of sounding like exactly a grumbling old man, I would say I am glad we were born in less prosperous times.