A doorbell rings for Teacher's Day

A doorbell rings for Teacher's Day

Confessions at doorstep

But those cards and their hackneyed epitaphs ---"you are my mentor","truly you are the greatest"'you are the light that showed the way""your patience and kindness are beyond words" are ego boosters that do not allow you to talk about your true self on teacher's day.Anyway here is my confession post teacher's day.[All the cards have been read and discarded]

My brilliant academic record culminated in a Ph.D in education.I was an idealist [who isnt? at twenty one!],a kind of arm chair communist, who wanted to start a school for the less privileged.I dreamt of producing Nobel laureates, who would make India proud! However circumstance and several factors like "luck" and "fate" metamorphosed me into a private tutor of mathematics for 'privileged' high school students.I developed into a split personality-----Jekyll and Hyde kind of stuff.In the presence of my wards, I radiated huge amounts of positive energy.To every one of them,I was their fun loving, ever cheerful,know it all mentor.A confidante who never carried tales to their parents.Away from them ,I was a born again cynic.My bread and many a time , the butter too came from the parents.Yet I found them "low'"  and "crass".I wallowed in self pity, comparing self to mother earth---who bore the brunt of  all other's folly.

Into this atmosphere entered Subbu of the pale skin and scrawny frame.The boy's shyness made him stutter at every word.He was every bully's delight.His sly father put on an act of total humility and avoided paying my fees.I became the biggest bully of the class taking out my irritation with the wily father on the poor child."I m not teaching for charity and you are not an orphan,bring my fee at once."
"Like the mahatma, I'll go on a hunger strike in front of your house,Ask your father to pay.""You rich kids will use our services to enter best colleges ,fly off to earn in dollars but will not pay the tuition teacher.Can you take such liberties with your fancy school?"All this said in  the presence of the other children.How the boy must have suffered?

Subbu passed his boards.His father did not pay.I forgot the episode and carried on with my life. Many years later, I answered the door bell.A huge ,well fed ,NRI type ,stood at the door with a smile."Good morning mam,I am Subbu.I was in your class twenty years ago.I have come to pay my dues mam.sorry  that it took so long.I am earning well in the U.S.I know that you have no use for that unpaid fee now.
I also know that you have survived cancer and work with young cancer patients.I have registered a small foundation in your name,from which you can help a cancer patient every year."At this point our roles got reversed.I became the taught and the little fellow that I had taunted twenty years ago  the TEACHER.This is a true story.Let me add the cliche-- stranger than fiction.