13 months too late

I learnt at a forum yesterday of the sad and untimely demise of Mrs.Meera Sinha, my former Hindi teacher and principal of GSPS.

If I was mortified of school, Hindi must be partly to blame. The onset of every academic year was like an exercise in morbid speculation about who the new agent of terror would be in the form of my Hindi teacher. If it was a familiar face, at least I wouldn’t have to suffer all over again the ignominy of letting someone else gradually discover how poor I was at the subject. My formula for subsistence during Hindi period was simple: keep yourself glued to the bench as long as possible, hide behind anything or anyone, never utter a word and never raise your hand. In effect, keep a low profile and be as invisible as possible.

I wouldn’t always manage to escape unnoticed though. When the piercing gaze finally fell on me, it was like laser cutting through my head and discovering nothing inside. I would then offer a silent prayer and hope for clemency. I knew it was too much, especially since the teacher had already suffered endless pages of gibberish in my notebook that I would have to routinely submit. I survived those horrific moments purely on humanitarian grounds.

There were exceptions. Mrs.Meera Sinha was surely the best of them. Not only was I not terrified, I was the star of her class. She always had words of encouragement for me and I never felt embarrassed of my weakness. Her guiding me was in no way confined to her subject, she was there whenever I needed someone for help. She even showed me off to Sapna teacher as her most well-mannered and obedient student. Sapna teacher went on to become one of my favorite and most entertaining teachers in the years ahead. Some years later, by when I had outgrown Mrs.Sinha’s class, she once had to step in for substitution. Spotting me, she at once came close and asked me how I was doing. As usual, no one else enjoyed this personal attention. A few years later, she was transferred to GSPS as its principal. I had no doubt in my mind that this was a very wise move.

In all these years since I left my alma mater, I’ve had this recurring dream of revisiting my primary school, walking through its sacred aisles and…meeting Mrs.Sinha to express my gratitude and indebtedness to her for making me feel special. Alas, that’s no longer possible.

I hope many others have been lucky enough to be guided by my wonderful mentor.

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