×
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
To sir, with love

To sir, with love

Therefore, when the end came, it was sudden, although not unexpected. Close friends called each other. WhatsApp was flooded with condolence messages. Everyone had a favourite story to share: 'He paid my fees,' or 'He visited me in Hubballi and taught me to make black coffee.' I, too, recalled our conversations and his words of wisdom.

Follow Us :

Last Updated : 24 June 2024, 23:57 IST
Comments

"When a child is behaving badly and you say, ‘I shall tell your father,’ what message are you sending to the child?” asked the burly man with a gravelly voice. All of us, 18-year-olds or thereabouts, sat in unsure silence. “You are conveying that you are powerless! Tell the child not to throw toys because it is not the right thing to do, and not because someone will scold her.”

That was our professor explaining to us the basics of interacting with children, who formed much of our caseload in the speech and hearing graduate programme at Mysuru’s All India Institute of Speech and Hearing.

Everyone in our class was a bit sceptical of the man. “Why does he have a feminine name, Rathna? As the director of such a prestigious institute, why does he ride an old Lambretta scooter? The scepticism gradually grew into admiration over the next three years as we learned more from and about the man. Treating everyone with equal respect was fundamental. Wasting food was a no-no. Simplicity was in his very DNA. Theatre was his passion. He was an equal opportunity employer much before the term came into existence — the institute had employees and a student with disabilities.

Our doubts about our choice of profession (which was founded in this country by Dr Rathnasabhapathi, a name that he was given at birth) also began to fade with our training and clinical exposure. We participated in rural camps to identify and treat people with communication disorders, and that was when we spent more time with our professor. He shared many anecdotes and played word games with us during our travels.

The association with Dr Rathna did not end with our graduation. The small size of the speech and hearing community strengthened the association over the years. He religiously attended all the conferences and weddings of students, and later those of their children, whenever feasible. He unfailingly sent wishes on festivals and national days. When age-related difficulties slowed him a bit, there was concern, but he soon bounced back with family support. 

Therefore, when the end came, it was sudden, although not unexpected. Close friends called each other. WhatsApp was flooded with condolence messages. Everyone had a favourite story to share: “He paid my fees,"  or “He visited me in Hubballi and taught me to make black coffee.” I, too, recalled our conversations and his words of wisdom. 

Sir, your word game was the precursor to Wordle. You lived well and died peacefully (the good doctor passed away on June 19). In death too, you have taught us another lesson by donating your body. True to your name, you were a gem (Rathna) of a man.

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow us on :

Follow Us

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT