Now I see them in saris…and I recall those old days!
I no longer teach in a school, and so I’ve lifted my self-imposed ban on adding my students as friends on Facebook. I need them in my life – they are my girls, after all. In terms of pure emotions, we have invested heavily – on both sides: love, hate, anger, frustration, happiness, pride…you name it.
Not to mention nouns, verbs, modals, argumentative essays, powerpoint presentations, homework. Write, rewrite, write and write more. Jokes, laughter, Shakespearean play enactments. We’d laughed, cried, shared jokes and fumed at each other – silently (they), noisily (you know who).
Did you do your homework?
Yes ma’am. No ma’am. Not completed ma’am….
Those who did not complete, stand up. Why didn’t you?
Look down, fidget. Glance at each other covertly. Exchange now-she’ll-go-on-a-rampage looks.
I asked you – WHY?
I went out over the weekend/ we had guests/ I was not well/somebody took my book…. Sullen silence.
Yeah, dog ate your homework…go on! DON’T try these on me – you won’t get far. I’ve sat in that seat and warmed it too.(And God knows that’s the holy truth.) Pick up your books, step out of the class/stand at the back and complete it. Resentful looks, hostilities opened.
Teachers’ Day, Valentine’s Day, my birthday. Roses, cards, beautiful handmade cards and gifts. We love you, Ma’am! Hugs. I feel like a queen. All hostilities suspended, seem like impossible history. It’s pure love. Until next morning/day.
Pull up your sock (literally). Tuck in your shirt. Pull up your skirt for God’s sake. (I’m truly worried about the precarious positioning of some of the skirts.) What’s with your hair? Reopen hostilities. Show me your nails. What on earth is this?
Ma’am… Long eyelashes batting. Butter would certainly not melt in her mouth. I’m reminded of Puss-in-boots when he first approached Shrek.
Tomorrow I need to see those nails cut.
Tomorrow, and WHY AREN’T THOSE NAILS CUT?
Ma’am, I forgot…sorry –
Get it cut, NOW.
Now, Ma’am? Does anyone have a nail-cutter? Hidden smile, knowing they won’t.
No one has, predictably. ‘Well, there’ look from the little lady in question. Unuttered now-what-will-you-do hanging in the air.
The clinic will have one. Go on.
Incredulous look. The clinic? Now?
(Two years later she texts me, seeking blessing for her exams, and ends the message with I still cut my nails regularly.)
Next morning, or the day after morning, me in a new sari, accessorized to boot. Good morning! is followed by Ma’am you look great! Others echo the sentiment. I feel like Queen Gayatri Devi and Julia Roberts rolled into one.
Ten minutes later. So what’s this I hear from your Math/History/Hindi/Any other subject teacher? She says you didn’t do your homework / or you’re so unruly in class / you did badly in exams.
But Ma’am, she’s… Anger, tears. They do have a point.
Listen, listen carefully. Understand. This a twelve/thirteen-year-old raw and open in front of you. She feels her feelings with all her being.
I understand, but then she’s your teacher – you can’t change that. So show her the respect she deserves. Be polite at all times. I’ll certainly see what I can do, but take these things as a learning experience.
Complaints, righteous indignation, frustrated tears. Placate, console, advise.
Ma’am can I give you a hug?
Hugs and hugs. The air is thick with love. Until the next morning.