Sunday, June 05, 2016

On a shore without footprints...

‘Where are you?’ asks Madhavi. ‘She wants to see you.’

I can’t attend the function—full busy. But post lunch I can meet. ‘illa…she will not be here by that time. And she’s been asking everyone about you. Baroke aaguttha? Try mado…’

Aaagalla. A twisted feeling within. I feel like dropping everything and rush there but… And the next two hours, I’m floating in and out of the past. To a particular time period. For some reason, that part of the history is popping up again and again. As if it holds something to be healed, to be revisited and sublimated.

Teacher’s pet. I had no intention of becoming one but from day one, I went deep into studies. And the next three years, there was only one goal. To excel in studies. To be the very best. To score the highest marks, higher than anyone and everyone. A bit of football. Karate. And studies, studies, studies. Nothing else.

She was a gentle lady. Our class teacher for the three years of high-school. In the beginning of the term, when the first test results were out, I had scored extremely well. And after that, I started sucking up everything that was taught, as if I was a camel away from an oasis. Loads and bundles of appreciation from the teachers. Particularly from this lady who handled the English classes.

She was affectionate…loved by everyone. And when someone is a class teacher, you have an additional dose of belongingness towards them. Like you’re in a big joint family, and this woman who’s in charge of you all, she’s your Mom. An invisible, almost intangible feeling of warmth that flowed between her and the entire class, for the whole duration of three years.

High school ended. And we flew away. I went back just a couple of times to my school after that, to invite all the teachers to my sister’s marriage…and another occasion. Saw her once and she had a big grin. Enquired after me. ‘The world is competitive, you have to work hard to succeed,’ she would say. 

And then…it’s been almost a quarter century until today.

I go in the afternoon and meet up all the classmates. No…she isn’t there. A high school teacher…she must’ve seen thousands of students pass through her gaze, her teaching, her nurturing. Like a rock which bears witness to the flowing river across eons. I get sentimental thinking of them. A fine bonding lasting just a few years. Then more children…again they pass out. You embrace them for a while…and let go. How many faces do you remember?

‘But she remembers you…she repeatedly asked everyone about you.’ I see her in the photo, aged and frail. There’s warmth within…to be held in someone’s memory across decades. Wish I could meet her. Maybe I should’ve. Just dropped everything and rushed.

There’s this passing fear…that she wants to see where I’ve reached, for all the promises I raised in those years. And I have nothing earth shattering to show. Will I be a disappointment? Will I falter before her, in my hesitation and awkwardness? Or…is it just to look at me as I am, without expectations, with nothing but a gentle affection towards a once shy, stammering, studious guy? I would love to believe it’s the latter.

I may not meet her again. Or I may. But today brought the beautiful gift of remembrance towards a long forgotten soul, and also a satisfaction of knowing that I’m still being remembered. A gentle bow!


  1. I will make sure you meet her...Soooooon! That's a promise. I have another promise to fulfill also. Will tell that later :D

  2. Teachers never expect anything, yet if a students excel in any area of their life, it adds a feather in their cap!
    Meet her once , it would be rewarding !
    Self judgement, self criticizing has done good to none!....