A Letter to My Teacher

pg-31Respected ma’am

You definitely would not remember me as back then, i wasn’t worth remembering as a student of English. I was 7 years old in a city in northern India, with Hindi as my mother tongue. I was your student in class 3 and you were my class teacher, and more importantly, my English teacher. Those days, English wasn’t as common as it is today. In the mid 1990s, it was still something restricted to the ‘elites’. Needless to say, i was not fluent with the language at all. Hindi was the language i spoke at home, Hindi was the language my friends spoke and it was the language i thought in. Now, as a teacher, you were supposed to ‘teach’ students. You did, but only those who found favour with you. Somehow, at the tender age of 7, i was made to feel useless and retarded by you. And this was only because i couldn’t speak fluent English and i needed to mentally translate whatever English i read or was heard  into Hindi before my mind could process it.

I remember reading from my English text book in halting English, trying very hard to keep up a brave front under your condescending gaze. 14 years later, i still remember the disdain in your eyes as i would participate actively in the class discussions which never mattered as my unforgivable fault was that i offered my answers and thoughts in that damned Hindi and not your angrezi. Time passed and i became a fan of reading. Whatever i might have been, i definitely was of moderate intelligence and it didn’t take me long to progress from simple picture comics to longer novels. And that’s when i started leaving my deficiency behind. I never looked back. Towards high school, i found the teachers i had always looked for. They observed, brought out and then honed my writing and oratory skills in YOUR language to the point that English became my adopted mother tongue, where my mind started thinking in English and would often need an English word to understand the Hindi i would read or speak. I think i should tell you that today, i have written articles for this country’s leading newspapers, i have won countless writing and debating competitions and have had my ‘command’ over the language appreciated by one and all. I can read and process data in English at great speed, and most importantly, i have learnt to not feel small because of someone’s condescension.

Ma’am, i have had the privilege of being taught by some genuinely amazing teachers, ‘gurus’ in the truest sense of the word. You are definitely not on the list, and i can only hope that you have mellowed down with time and have not allowed something as simple as your command over a language to eat into a young soul’s self-worth and confidence. A mind scarred at that age never truly heals. Mine didn’t, because sub-consciously, you were always there in the back of my mind, taunting and laughing. Now that the day is here where i would willing spar with you over and in this language, all i can say to you is- Thank you. Had it not been for your superior ways, i might never have gotten the kick on my backside that would go on to change my life.


The Student who wasn’t Good Enough


One Response to “A Letter to My Teacher”

  1. Nicely done!

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