On a habitual trip of scavenging for fresh books on the market last month, I ended up visiting the book store that hasn’t failed bibliophiles for generations. Even in the chaos of the busiest market in town, the quaint “D.P. Sur and Sons” is reminiscent of the secret corner at home that you retire to for unabashedly smelling book pages. To my surprise, the shop was filled only with books of medical studies. The current owner, Shri O.P Sur, didn’t seem amused at my ignorance – almost as if he had got used to politely turning away book lovers with a heavy heart. He was so endearing (I would have cast him as the grand-dad in my version of Kapoor and Sons) that I couldn’t stop myself from having a chat. And when I left the shop, I had this gut wrenching feeling – of being a part of a generation whose teachers and guides, in the words of the old man, “felt forsaken and lonely” and “found gratification and solace in the books around them”.
Looking back, I feel that even though I love my teachers, I have seldom done enough to express it.Their legacy is us, their students,who somehow don’t manage the time to check on their teacher’s retirement plans – for most likely they will be lonely as parents too in the sunset years of their lives. Compare the amount of pride that they take in sharing our success stories on social media – with that of our interest in their achievements. Those difficult adolescent years when I felt my family didn’t understand me, I found comfort in speaking to that teacher. That cut throat competitive environment where I was pushed a step closer to cynicism , I took a step back to innocence realizing the humility that teacher brought to the classroom every day. Those days of paranoia in office when I didn’t get gratification for my work, I thought about my physical education teacher who did her work with unadulterated joy even when we hated her for making us sweat out in the sun. I am what I am for what my teachers have made me – yet I have somehow made peace with not looking back at them just enough.
To my Teacher.
I am sorry for having forsaken you. I know that perhaps you have already forgiven me. I know that you will probably do everything to deny my fallacies and instead take pride in what I have achieved so far. But you are human too, just like my parents and have every right to feel that anguish that I have caused you by that neglect.
For all those years that I didn’t say it – You mean the world to me!
[Story and Photo Courtesy: Samparna Tripathy]