By JP Pandey
I always believe the role of a teacher is more than that of one who imparts mere knowledge and classroom lectures. From a young age, the teachers in my life played multiple roles from being a father figure to a friend. Sometimes, they played role of a disciplinarian but on most occasions they were torch-bearers and guides. Having taken on the mantle of being Principal of Oak Grove School, I could not help but ponder over the multiple hats that teachers have to wear.
All this reminds me of an incident way back in 1986, 18th May. On a hot sunny afternoon, we were awaiting the result of the fifth standard which happened to be the first board exams of my life. As the time of announcement of results was nearing, my heart beat increased in pace with the scorching heat of the day. As luck would have it, I topped the class. It was the happiest moment as I would be promoted to the sixth standard. In those days, English as a subject was introduced from standard six onwards and we were much excited to learn this prestigious language of the great Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare and John Milton.
At this time, I vividly recall one of my primary school teachers, Maniram Yadav, who came up to me, patted me on my back, and bestowed his blessings. He said, “Now you have to work even harder.” Being aware of my trepidation for the new subject, he advised me to purchase a Basic English learning book and practice it during summer vacations. The fragrance of a new book always fascinated me so I was also keen to get the books for my new subject. I humbly told him that I would definitely buy the books next day.
I still remember his pleasing and ever reassuring smile. He put his hand in the pocket of his long white kurta, took out two and half rupees and gave it to me and instructed lovingly, “Beta go and get the book right now.” He did not preach to me. In his own gentle way, he taught me not to waste time and to start my learning immediately. This was not the money my guru gave me, but a life long lesson. He had so much love, care and confidence that he could not afford to let a single day go in vain. A boy of ten years did decipher his unspoken words very clearly and tries his best to match up to his expectations even today.
When I cleared my civil services exam in 2003, one of the first things I did was to visit my revered gurushri Maniram ji, who had since retired. Interestingly enough, he had long forgotten the incident but it is a moment that I keep close to my heart to rejoice for a lifetime.
(JP Pandey, IRPS, is Director, School Education,
Ministry of HRD, New Delhi)