When I was in School, English was my favorite subject, something I did well in and something that I was interested and intrigued by. When I was in my Seventh standard, a teacher came in who was kind, clever and tolerant, more than anything else she was efficient and encouraged us to find our feet. She taught us for four years, dictation, prose, comprehension, Shakespeare...everything and till date I feel that the debt I owe to her is so immense that life will find a way for me to pay back. As things go, when I heard of her unfortunate and untimely demise I was unaffected and strangely reluctant to think of her. I dont know why, but I did not even react to it respectfully. When I shared this news with Pt, however I couldnt really stop thinking of her, the curved slant of her alphabets, the wry grin when she caught me found reading during a class and the word of praise from her I simply craved for. Grief for me never till now needed a legitimacy but today there was an overwhelming need for it, for something who understood what I felt, for an emotion which is too volatile to describe and for the burgeoning need to tell her and share with her that writing is now a part of my life, all thanks to her.
I last met her almost two years ago, when I took Oscar Wilde's "Picture of Dorian Gray" for her, it was so easy to effectively be back in time again, to call her Maam and try to impress her by wanting to tell her that I was working for a magazine. (which I didnt and now I wish I did) We take things so much for granted, I always reckoned that I could go back and meet her sometime but now that time has passed, that sun has set and that need turned into despair but that memory lingers on, of a warm teacher who rises above personal deficiency to reach out and a sinking feeling in my stomach that a part of my childhood has now achieved closure.
There are now so many things I wish I did, the first one being the thought I should have met her often but what remains is a feeling of gratitude, for teachers who show us the way in so many invisible ways and are never thanked for. For the many choices they offer and are never acknowledged and most importantly for being a part of our lives but never seeking a claim on their contribution.
To Manjula Maam. She who gifted me a love for a language. She, who was there.