Back to school days


“Thank you, M’am,” the girl smiled and wished as she handed over her answer paper. I looked up, surprised.

Why, it has been quite some time since I heard a student thanking me after writing an exam. These days, students casually handover their papers after an exam and walk out. I smiled as I recollected ‘those’ days. Students would always wish teachers by standing up, most of them lowered their heads while their teachers reprimanded them, stood up to ask a query and to receive the question paper in an exam hall. And yes, they thanked the invigilator as they walked out after handing over their answer scripts.

The love and affection of current generation towards their teachers has remained the same, though the way of expressing it has changed. Good morning or afternoon wishes are still exchanged and, many a times, I have found myself responding with a ‘hi’ or ‘hello’ in response to a more formal greeting. Earlier, after a couple of visits following graduation, a few wishes on teacher’s day and invites for weddings, students and teachers generally lost touch. 

Now, it is indeed great to come across them not in shopping malls and common functions, but also on a daily basis on social networking sites. Students have kept in touch through Facebook, Twitter and other ways. They are now ‘friends’, in addition to being former students. Ideas are exchanged and suggestions are asked on topics dealing with possessive husbands, switching careers, naughty kids or the new dish put up on the ‘wall’.

I still remember my encounter with a guy who came up to me in a crowded mall, carrying a baby, and introduced himself as a former student. The joy and surprise I felt on seeing a naughty boy transformed into a responsible adult is something I will never forget in my life. Now, I have got used to pictures of betrothals, weddings, newborns, kids in school uniform and others. Of course, they tag me so that my old age doesn’t hinder my memory and I remember all, including some with their spouses and kids’ names.

I love it when they comment on my post as equals, just as I used to love them coming up to me during functions and introducing their families to me, taking me aside to air a few complaints or praise for their dear ones. I value their greetings on special occasions, just as I valued their greeting cards or calls on landlines, mostly belated. I feel proud as they announce to the world their new jobs, achievements and relationships, and get emotional in the same way, on seeing them with a packet of sweets at my doorstep in earlier days. 

How things have changed, and yet, how they have remained the same! We may no longer have gurukuls as in olden days, and students may not pay gurudkshina, but they more than make up for it by their affection and love.

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