Sidd sent me from Vancouver a beautiful picture of her tyke on his first day of school, holding up a colorful poster describing himself. Little ZeeZee started kindergarten last Tuesday. It’s an important milestone for him as he puts his foot forward to begin his educational journey. He loves his teacher from day 1. Soaked in sheer innocence and simplicity, the tiny one genuinely wants to do all what she likes. His teacher is immensely important to him. The incident guided my trail of thoughts and paved the path for reflection.
Jotting down random ideas swimming in my mind, I find myself working on my blog post on a theme centering around teachers. Coincidentally, India celebrated Teachers Day just four days ago on September 5. Like many other nations that earmark a specific day to pay tribute to their teachers, India too does her share. Enthusiasm and excitement know no bounds as students organize diverse events to honor their teachers.
Once the President of Yale University remarked: “Teachers believe they have a gift for giving; it drives them with the same irrepressible drive that drives others to create a work of art or a marker or a building.” It is a profound truth that teachers play a monumental role in society. It is none other than our parents who first come into our lives to play that part by teaching us the basic lessons to mould us into good human beings. But then as we take our steps outside the house, we come into contact with those special individuals who help us learn. In the early years of childhood, it is a pleasant sight to see the tiny tots hovering around the teachers who they see as their entire world, believing everything they say with unquestionable sincerity. Rather than the strategies of teaching employed, it is primarily the social skills of a teacher that appeal to the little ones. I have vivid memories of how as a second grader I simply loved everything about my teacher: the way she talked, dressed, and interacted with the kids. I thought she was the prettiest lady ever and that she was just flawless.
Gradually, as one moves ahead in the more complex spheres of learning, the relationship becomes more intrinsic. What we expect is for our teachers to be our guides, our mentors who impart invaluable knowledge. The bond that one develops with his or her teacher is based on the foundations of admiration, trust, and respect. It will be next to impossible to find any individual who will not be able to name any teacher who has had a remarkable influence on his or her life. Be it in elementary, middle, or high school or later on in our college career, we have inevitably come across one such teacher, and in many cases more, who have made an everlasting mark in our minds.
As we revere and eulogize our teachers, it brings us to ruminate on yet another reality of life. Many a time, we lose contact with these exceptional people who at one time might have showered us with unconditional love and had been an integral part of our being. The invaluable knowledge bestowed upon us by our teachers is priceless. And yet, life brings us to a point where we sometimes get completely detached from this bonding. We get so bogged down by our day-to-day commitments and responsibilities that the distance widens, and memories of those precious moments recede to the back of our minds. Our actions could be totally unintentional and may be prompted by practical reasons, but they point to a sad truth difficult to ignore.
Mitch Albom’s heart-rendering memoir Tuesdays with Morrie marvelously delineates the student-teacher relationship. Lost in the busy race for survival, sports columnist Mitch loses contact with one of his favorite professors from college. He gets a second chance to reconnect when after sixteen years, he rediscovers Professor Morrie Schwartz when he makes a television appearance in an episode of ABC’s Nightline. Mitch finds Morrie in deteriorating health and decides to spend time with him by visiting him every Tuesday. The special bond they once shared is once again rekindled. Mitch poignantly chronicles the fourteen Tuesdays he spends with his professor up till his death. Suffering from a terminal disease with death knocking at his door, Morrie still celebrates each day with zest, and in their second innings together, he imparts to Mitch his final lessons. They are not lectures from sociology, but rather wisdom about learning to live life with dignity and not succumbing to adversities.
Tuesdays with Morrie unravels the unique connection that builds up between a teacher and a student, transcending all differences in age. Love, respect, and admiration are the threads that delicately weave the sweet web of human emotions. Our parents bring us into this world and nurture us, our friends have our backs in times good and bad, and in this network of relationships stand those teachers who impart lessons and instill in us those core values that help us move in rhythm with the music of life.