My School days-leaf 6

In my list of wonderful teachers, here I present 2 more.

My class teacher and the teacher who taught Sanskrit in class 5.

Class fives were seated in a tiny room at the far end of the Kendriya Vidyala school compound in SS Colony. It was a small compound housing classes 1 to 5 only. Being placed at the far end with our class room door facing a wall, and the fact that, to enter the classroom one had to circumvent the entire building, gave a sense of exclusion and importance for the fifth graders.

My class had about 15 boys and 8 or 9 girls. My class teacher then was a beautiful lady by name Miss. Shanta (I think so🤔🤔) looking like the yester- year heroines. We girls used to wait eagerly to see what colour saree she would come in everyday.

She wore her saree so beautifully, so much like actress Saroja Devi or KR Vijaya ( famous actresses of  Tamil filmdom)when they play the role of a wealthy, high class, sophiticated lady. She came in multicoloured sarees and matching blouses-sarees neatly pleated and pinned- all proper. She carried a small handbag of leather. She bore a picture of perfection.

Her oval face, though slightly dark complexioned was decorated with a slightly big ‘red sticker bindi’ in between her thick eyebrows. Her kohled eyes was complemented with her turmeric glowing cheeks. A square chin set in a smile ever. Her hair was another feature that enhanced her poise. We always almost saw her in a bun as big as her head and a flower tucked by her left ear. We have never seen her hair let loose or plaited.

The we I am referring to were, Vijaya,Kalyani and myself included. Later we got to know that boys too liked her style. This inside information we got from two of our friends Mohan and Gowrishankar.

She taught maths to the class besides being the form tutor. She always borrowed a wooden ruler from the front benchers and would execute punishments by beating on the left hand palm to those who would not complete their homework. But at the same time we noticed that she did not punish anyone unduly.

However, we were never in that category and so did not experience that harsh side of her. It was quite common those days to administer corporal punishments  (4 decades ago) and we did not think too much about it and that did not deter us from admiring her personality.

To boot to that,she was the best maths tutor in the school. Despite the fact that she was very stern while executing those beatings to the defaulters, she explained the mathematical concepts very clearly and we did not have any problem in solving them.

Of course I should mention that in our group we had the brainiest Vijaya, who would explain and help us solve the homework everyday. So we were her darlings too. 

For a child, right from the appearance of a teacher to  the warmth they exude,  equally important  is the quality of teaching. As we age and as our priorities change, the toppers might ignore the first two aspects as their focus is only performance. But a teacher’s personality and warmth goes a long way in every child’s life.

Next most charming teacher in the same school was my sanskrit teacher,a gentleman in the truest sense. Unfortunately I do not remember his name. By now you must have realised that I am not good at remembering names. I am may be afflicted by border line ‘dysnomia’.🤔

This teacher too was dressed neatly; had a long brown face with a set of white teeth that shone when he smiled. His shirt always tucked in neatly pressed trousers with polished shoes completed the picture.He did not appear like other male teachers who had pot bellies, unkempt hair and wore chappals. There you go, a perfect looking teacher who made the daunting Sanskrit for tamil speaking children so easy. 

He used to play lot of language games and made the lesson interesting. The best aspect was there was NO HOMEWORK! All exercises were solved in class and obviously we were thrilled with him. One other aspect that drew all the children to him was, he did magic show in class for us. Small tricks that kept us in awe. 

Contrary to the form tutor, he did not beat anyone, at all. Each one of us were eager to learn from him. We behaved our best. Unknowingly he was our hero. He did not resemble any film hero, he was just himself; having his own identity.

 I remember one time we all put in a petition to our headmaster to appoint our sanskrit teacher as our form tutor. When he asked why we did not want Ms.Shanta(?), we had no reason to reject her and we remained quiet. Even if he wished to accede to our wishes, he could not have done so as the sanskrit teacher was a part time employee. There! all our hopes crashed, but we were happy that he stayed till the end of the academic year.

Looking back and recollecting those times now, I realise how small and insignifucant things have great significance in a student’s life and school life memories. A perfectly groomed teacher immediately attracts the children and even more so if the teacher is able to connect on a inner level with the students.

All in all teachers should have a special ‘mana’ that could relate to some hidden aspect in every child.


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ICT test- ‘I c the’ test

” This is one of those times when you see something adorable. As a teacher I had the privilege of spending time with young and energetic 15 year olds. Even during assessments they portray unique  charactetistics which make me feel amazed. Here is one such experience.”
On Thursday morning 25th July 2013, the usual class test atmosphere prevailed in the class room (IGCSE 2014-B) with students taking their places; some with seriousness; some out of obligation; some doing it as if nothing affects them. One can see their attitude spilling out in their smile, talk, body language and in some, a sense of stoicism that beats the others.

All seated orderly; a few late comers rush in, after going through their notes/books for the last minute, and take their places. The papers arrive. The ICT –Information and Communication Technology paper. Initial ritual of opening the sealed pack completed, they are dished out to each one of them.

Time starts. A two hour paper, that turned out to be an onerous one for one and all,starts. Instinctively some flip through the thick test booklet which spans 16 pages; makes a mental note that it is timed for two hours and is sure of completing within the time stipulated.

They start the paper. First few questions are the usual ones- always slick and smooth to give you a feel of ease and comfort, before the examiner throws in the tough meat to chew through.

It is not the toughness that catches them; it is the repetitive chewing that bores them. Tough is OK with them, they know how to handle tough. For those who are prepared, the tough is only a challenge, so it is fine; for others it is just a matter of attempting or leaving it unanswered. The choice made, the rest goes easily.

The easy ones are handled with a characteristic nonchalance/ arrogance befitting the teens. But some try to be extra cautious and make mistakes unknown to them, then.

The medium- hard questions and the unsure ones are dealt with equanimity by all.

Observing them is like watching a drama staged. At the start, all serious and ready for whatever that comes their way. Face bent down, eyes scanning the questions, mind sorting the easy ones from the hard and the hand trying to match the mind’s speed to fill the answer sheet.

After the initial half hour, there is a subtle change; not all are pouring over the paper- some have started to shift on the chair, some looking around casually to note how many of their classmates’ eyes they could catch. There is some satisfaction in knowing that you are not alone in doing what you are doing  (NOT doing the test). When their eyes meet the teacher’s they immediately go down to the paper.

Time crawls for some, runs for some others; after about 50 minutes into the test, the ubiquitous paper pattern begins to surface. One by one students begin to notice the discrepancy in what they are asked to give against what they would be getting (marks).

16 pages of a paper where more than two-thirds hold questions and marks that are incongruous. It dawns on them that the question demands a lot more- it asks for a 10 line answer of description with just a 1 mark reward; 0.5 marks for 4 lines answer and 20 lines analysis for just 6 marks.

This bewilders them first. It exasperates them next. It frustrates some. It challenges some others. It also amuses some.

Some show resilience; some display irritation; some portray a stoic countenance. For others who are challenged enough, time sits heavily on their shoulders and their fingers are crippled by an invisible thread of boredom.

As the passing hour comes to a close, some are bold enough to vociferously express their disdain. This, the invigilator tries to quell with a menacing stare.

What a relief when the time tolled, all sprang from their place handing in their answer sheets with an unbeknownst sprite and rushed out!

FREE WILL?

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Every moment we are bound
With norms that society hath found.
From birth till death
Choosing is a dearth.

We didn’t ask and yet
We came to be.
She didn’t ask for us.
We forcibly are thrust inside hers.
Thus she hates and curses us.

Even with want and welcome
We are let into a cage.
We grow in the confines of the womb
Which is but a prelude to the final tomb.
It is befitting that we come out crying
The choice is killed even as we set to trying
For we are shut anon with a pacifier.

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If we indulge in nature around
Breathe and eat unbound.
Then we are no human
As norms set don’t let us free, oh man!

Do this and do that
A book of rules ,the language we learn first.
No wonder we say ‘nay’ in all earnest.
‘Aayes’ make us the best
The ‘nays’ make us the worst.

Free will to breathe is there
But the air is bound tight with servility.
Free will to sleep is here
But the bed is thrust upon us in adversity.
Free will to eat is there
But customs take the pleasure away with impunity.
Free will to dress is here
But religion kills all curiosity.

What is left is the free will to think
Free will to dream
Free will to live in your own mind.

All can have this free will
And live a life in glory with no kill.
Just a few are lucky still
able to live as they will.

But for all
be ye, a prince or a pauper still,
living in your mind is the free will
and no one to kill.

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Enjoy the free will!

My name – a mysterious treasure

     My name- a mystery to me

A syllabled sound that births in a mind
To become one of its kind.
A fine tether, hath me bound
Most used and abused sound
I have never found!

It rolls easily through all teeth
With little or no emotion, but astoundingly lithe!

My mom’s sweet cooing
A delightful sighing,
Breathed onto my ears oft times
Love and security poured at bedtimes.
That was the first of many
From a heart so sweet as honey!

Bellowing and stern
When it is my dad’s turn
The way my name crush
Under his thundering bush (moustache)
I shiver and cower
But still appreciate his power!

Robust and vibrant at eve times
Shouted by my friends at times
My name carries a carefree hue
Which is my uncaring spirit’s due!

Out of concern when my granny nags
Loads of unsavory pressure it bags.
But when a conspirational sweetmeat accompanies it
With a wink, my grandpa and I cherish it!

A high pitched jealous note
Rings aloud when my neighbor slays it by rote!

When my teacher beckons me with authority
I am stunned at how my name shrinks to brevity!

Thus rolls my name
Which no day, month or year can tame!
By now it has taken my height and weight
Even my complexion sallow or bright!

Then
Youth’s vigor acts as a trigger
And chase all unpleasant sounds in a snicker.
Dreamy days and wakeful nights I relish
Career and success, house and a partner –I hope to cherish!

My name through my lover’s lips
Is when my soul into bliss slips.
My name’s every letter and syllable
Hear my ears, with no trouble
And then I realize
A new facet to my name is possible!

Amidst chasing dreams and building a future
My name in this world’s mouth- a torture!

A shout or a whisper
At times with love and
At times with menace it gets crispier!

In the maelstrom of life and responsibilities
My name is stretched and shrunk in all probabilities!

Me and my name rolled into one
Gathering mass and stopping at none
Rolls along the life’s road
Sometimes narrow, at times broad!

Anon comes a bend
Which will mark my end!
Even then, in people’s mind
My name will be battered, with none to mend!

Is it me or my name?
On what to place the blame?
For, all through the years I too set aflame
Many a names that by me came!

With me it grew
Took shape and colour at times true!
When uttered with love
It fit me like a glove
But with hatred and anger
It lost all its gander!
In the end
My name – a mystery to me!
When it became me
And I became it
Is for sure- a mystery to me!

By virtue of its mystery it is a treasure to me!

Free writing

Mmm….let me see. The topic that I have been thinking in my mind is pain and pleasure.

I have always wanted to analyse these two aspects and so here it goes.
        PAIN AND PLEASURE
    A topic that seems lofty and weighed down, yet it is a day to day affair. If it is not the pure reflection of man’s- the egomaniac’s- selfish manifestation; then it is surely the masochistic/sadistic way of his expression. A sure double-sided single coin.

     It is a state of paradox and juxtaposition which co-exists. Ironical isn’t it? But a little more thought into these two happenings (or one?) keeping ourselves outside the circle of action will make things clearer I believe.

     Stepping out of the event and taking a critical analysis is difficult when you are an integral part of the same event. Separating the self- the thinking self, that part of man that analyses and puts words and explanations into everything happening to him- is extremely difficult. It is like asking you to analyse the strength of impact after you struck your little toe against the bed post , to eliminate the pain waves travelling through your nervous system and to calculate the time it will last and start to diminish- all this while it is “your” toe that is currently experiencing the pain.

In the normal course of action, such an event will either set off a series of insane expletives from your mouth, some screaming and bring the roof down kind of action, some beatings, some heavy cussing and even hurting others physically- the sadist in you takes over OR you say “nothing happened” while your face is contorted with pain and your eyes brimming with tears- the masochist in you silently bearing the pain.

So, where is the pleasure in this equation? The sadist takes pleasure in hurting others while his pain takes him over and the masochist enjoys in enduring his pain.

     This, “Either I hurt or others must hurt” is the basis for all actions that are prevalent in today’s world. Even if we take “love” as our topic of discussion in connection with the pain-pleasure equation, then too, we come across a close sadistic-masochistic parallel which strongly underlies the Love mantra in practice.

   Now, what is Love? This has been manifest since time immemorial in all spheres of man’s life on this earth. From each and every religious scripture, from the manifestos of science and technology, from literatures across the world, to the field of crime and punishment – we see LOVE.
  All religions say “love ALL, Love others like yourself, Work is worship so work what you love etc, etc.” Immense love for science led to discoveries and inventions; love for creation led to volumes and volumes of prose and poetry and from these sprung drama, dance and cinema; it is eventually love for self that led to crime and punishment.

If a sadist’s love is self-centred, it is reeking of pure pleasure in other’s pain, then definitely a masochist’s love is also self-centred as he takes pleasure in the pain taken upon himself.
Having thus analysed “love”, the next that is in direct link with, is “Hate”. Even this runs on the parallel that holds the Sadist and the Masochist alongside. Hate for others is our Sadist and hate for self is our Masochist.

Thinking on these lines, yes! I am convinced that “hate” too is a strong dual manifest of the human Sadistic/ Masochistic mind.

All “love and Hate” done, we can now move towards baser animal instincts- HUNGER! According to me HUNGER is just the name- a synonym for need. It is a need that encompasses Body and Soul and even Mind. When this HUNGER takes you over, there emerges the Sadist triumphantly who endeavours to only assuage his needs; beating, crushing and killing all in his path until he gets what he wants. On the other hand when you control this “Hunger”, when you deny feeding it, you suffer! There lies our Masochist letting go of his meals, his chance to fight, giving up on his rights, call what you may, only to bring pain upon himself.

Similarly such parallels could be drawn across all human emotions thereby concluding the existence of only two sects- Sadists and the Masochists. The Sadists who rule and live in pleasure and the Masochists who let themselves be ruled and live in pain. Bingo! Both pain and pleasure co-existing!

Next on the list is “SEX” – the most basic human expression that has driven one and many to create as well as destroy at the same time. Whether you couple sex with Love or Hate, with giving or taking, with yin or yang  ( another interesting concept- will come back to that later)-whichever way you look at it, the fundamental overriding functional aspect is either pain or pleasure and so it is either our Sadist in play or our Masochist or both. Quite often in SEX and PLEASURE we come across many expert observations that state – in “giving” we get pleasure. According to me, it is very relative and conditional. Unless the act of giving leads to direct receipt of exhilaration, it is NOT pleasure. It turns into pain. The giving of sexual pleasure should be like water giving itself to a river.

If, instead, it is like water flowing through a pipe, it is flowing and yet smothered within the confines of the walls, breathes the same air and just flows without spirit or life. Here is our Masochist- water in a confined pipe. And the vessel that receives it- the proud Sadist who gets it all and gives back none.

On the contrary if it is like water flowing in a river, it gurgles over an expanse of land with joy, caressing the sides and swells of the earth beneath, bouncing now and then over the small boulders and basking in the warmth of the sun, sometimes taking the torrential rain & the calm, chill air at night- but a definite part of the breathing/ living elements around, while it flows and thus gives and takes at the same time.

This is where and when the yin meets the yang, the day meets the night and mellow, the hot meets the cold to get warm and so forth. But this is rare!

Quite often the moment passes without recognition, without coming into anybody’s grasp. It is fleeting! It is there but yet not there! This is the orgasmic dying which is when the actual living takes place.
So the net result is either a scorching hot day-a Sadist taking his pleasure or a cold night- a Masochist living in pain.

The Threshold

My fear is the final crossover, from life on to death. The fear of crossing the threshold. So here it comes.

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The Threshold

It is there waiting!
Waiting at the threshold
Like a gentle breeze
Like the first ray of sun’s hue
Like the soon to disappear morning dew!

Like a waft of nature’s perfume
Mingled with labour’s sweat
A butterfly’s touch on the honeyed flower
The night watcher’s vigil
The taste of life’s blood
And like the gentle footfalls of the night creatures
It is waiting as part of life’s features!

Ah! When I come afore it….
It is me ! I see
How?
A mirror, I realize!
But with a difference
That takes you in as if
It is an entrance!
Not until you touch
You don’t realize much!
It is a threshold
Through which you disappear
And yet see it happen as it appears.

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A strange supplication
Which intrigues and repels at once
You want to go beyond
Yet wish not to relinquish your stand!

Then! A moment came
When I flew through the window frame
As I drove towards my ‘home’
Stead I met the blinding truck lights
In that glorious second I thought I was “home”!
I saw my garden but blooming in ‘gold’
I saw my kids- even Amy, whom I thought ‘lost’
Oh! My mother!-hale and hearty!
Trotting on her feet and no wheels!
Oh! My mom! Oh! My Mom!
Yes! Dear son!- a  scratchy voice boomed
The darkness and the pain on my arms screamed.
I had been ‘somewhere’
Which for others is ‘no where’.

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I knew then!-it was ‘that’ door
Through which we all have to pass
Which no one can pass
And I had come too closely to pass.

It is there in our lives
Like the unseen trace of dusk rays
Like the unheard tremor
When the globe trotters thither
Like the unsettled sweat
On a labourer’s heart!
When I come afore it
Ah! I see myself again
Battered and tattered but, whole in my grain.
Having teetered precariously on that plain
I have nothing to lose but to gain.

Now I know to see through
the beguiling door that sucks you through!
I have heard many share
Their visions so clear
To which I had no ear!
Knowing that one
Hath helped me stop bemoan
Life’s despair!
Of which there’s none to spare!

I shall live every moment!
As ever fervent
Think of no torment
For I shall never lament
Whatever the life for me is ‘meant’.

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At least now I am aware
That when the ‘time’ comes
We all must become
A fond memory
An oft repeated name initially
Only to fade away slowly!

When the ‘time’ comes
That ‘threshold’ will beckon
And, you must ‘go’ as you have no time to reckon.
So I shall ‘live’ my life un-forfeiting
For I know the ‘threshold’ is waiting!

20 minutes in my balcony- Nashik , India

Nashik,India

When I was sitting in the small terrace balcony of my home at around 7:30 pm, trying to enjoy the late evening summer breeze, my mail pop up notification made me look through my smart phone. Bingo! there I find the 101 June 2014 challenge. I am excited and what a perfect coincidence that I just sat there for the past 20 minutes or so soaking in the light and sound around me and here pops in a 20 minute writing challenge! That’s great isn’t it?

I definitely think so and start tapping at the key board after setting the timer for 20 minutes.

I am still in the same balcony, enjoying the light and sound show around me. The sound reaches me and jars my attention even though the light is always there. The most unmistakable sound is the music band playing all kinds of drums, typical of Indian “Baarat”- the bride groom procession that is approaching the bride’s place. A wedding near by for sure. The varying rhythms and tempo of the band is definitely loud and it is to the point of eating into your brains through the ear drums. But it is there nonetheless. I know that this would continue for another hour or so as the procession normally moves very slowly allowing the groom’s relatives and the bridal party to dance to the tunes on the road as the groom himself is seated on a horse.

Briefly then the music stops, may be the musicians are tired and wish to have a small break or the party members asked them to stop for a small,on the road,ceremony. Whatever be the case the sound stopped and suddenly in the ensuing silence I hear the constant croaking of the frogs, awaiting the rains of the hot summer days and the Crickets’ whispering(?) noise which have been there as background to the evening, but has been smothered by the wedding procession music.

The distant vehicles’ horns, the small beep of my husband’s mobile notification of a message, my self pounding the key board – all become prominent now. Then again, suddenly as if a switch is turned on, the music starts with a different rhythm now, with more tempo, may be announcing the arrival of the groom, nearing the bride’s place.


LIGHT SHOW

The lights around seem to be a decorative back drop to this musical show that is going on. The city lights at the background appear in tiers owing to the distance and the traffic lights, that are far, move perfectly synchronous to the rest of the lights around. Even though the sky is black and devoid of stars and moon today, these city lights are a perfect drape to the celebration that is going on.

Only when you are prompted to think about some thing, it captures your attention and it gets its due. Similarly today I happened to study the light and sound show for at least 20 minutes, even though I have sat there before many times in the past. This writing prompt definitely gave me a chance to capture the light and sound show that goes on every night albeit with different sounds (not every day a wedding happens near by!). I learnt to look and savor the experience for what they are worth actually.