You know it is September (please don’t roll your eyes, in these times, frankly I sometimes don’t know weekdays from weekends, let alone months that just whizz past!) when the air turns cooler with a hint of festivities, the sun grows mellow, and yes, in India, the month is marked with the Teacher’s Day on the 5th.
When I was in school, this was the day when seniors would come to our classes dressed as our teachers (in sarees, hair extensions and all) while those venerated souls would stay put in staff rooms accepting roses, cards and whatnots that our simple minds could present them with. All that has changed, I’m told. Now there are special assemblies, held in advance to mark the day. And this year, it went virtual. So yes, the times they are a changin’ and I thought of doffing my hat to this teacher of all seasons… Time. Here are three most relevant things I’ve learnt from it:
1. Sometimes it is better to go with the flow
Computers were at their nascent stage in this country when I ventured to become a journalist. I can’t put a finger on why I was so averse to technology initially but yes, I didn’t quite take to it. Then came the realisation that being “computer literate” was more important than any other qualification, so off I trotted to a computer training centre to learn the intricacies of DOS (perhaps that is what put me off!) and Windows, and Word, and Excel. Enlightened and armed to enter the hallowed portals of ‘work’, I was soon won over by the very machines I’d so disliked at first. Today all of my work is conducted online and I’m thankful to have overcome that hesitation.
Lesson learnt: Sometimes it is better to give something a chance before you discard it as unattainable or distasteful. Asking questions such as, how will it improve my condition, or what do I lose by doing it, might help.
2. Patience is of essence
Six years back, my mother was diagnosed with dementia. The struggle before that is beyond description. Juggling a one year old, and a nine year old coping with a new city, new school, new curriculum, with ageing parents who suddenly seemed incapable of supporting but needed a lot of help themselves began to take its toll. We had to explain everything multiple times to Ma, only to realise that she didn’t get it even then. Not knowing what was wrong with her was also unnerving. The visit to the neurologist finally explained everything but the real journey had just begun. Now six years into caregiving, I see that working with a dementia patient gives you a lot of patience (confession, I’m many things but being patient is not my virtue). Yet, now I know that no amount of tugging, explaining or even shouting will work. I have learnt to look at Ma as a baby, and I’m patient, as I’d be with one, mostly.
Lesson learnt: Looking at the larger picture helps. Or as they say in the US Navy SEALS: Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
3. People come into your life for a reason
I may love them or bristle at their very presence but time has shown me why they came into my life at all. From the dear friends who held (and still do) my hands in trying times and guffaw with me even now, the mentor-bosses who patiently showed me my strengths and refused to accept anything but the best, and, even all those who did not seem to be my cup of tea.
Lesson Learnt: To quote Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Today as scores of teachers toil to manage schoolwork with their own homework, it is time to thank all our teachers — the people and experiences who shaped us to be who we are finally. A big Thank You!