How can a teacher ever be poor?


The other day a spanking new luxury car screeched to a stop in front of my humble abode. A chauffeur in an impeccable white attire hurriedly stepped out to open the rear door.

With my body, my memory too was ageing, so it took me a little while to recognise the lanky young man sitting in the backseat. Sauve and elegantly dressed, he skids out of his car with a flourish. He was an old student whom I had taught in college. Surprised, I rushed towards him to offer him a rousing welcome and took him in.

For the past 20 years, I had only heard about him, off and on, from his parents. He had settled in Mumbai and doing very well for himself. He and my elder son had pursued their graduation together. Thereafter, their paths diverged. My student’s ambitions took him to Mumbai, where he was now an affluent businessman. His expensive gifts brought a cheerful smile on the face of my grandchildren, but they were perhaps saddened that their Dadu, a man of moderate means, was not in a position to buy them such exorbitant toys.

But I was delighted beyond explanation some of my former students had not forgotten their old teacher. They still remembered and revered their guru. The one before me was certainly one of those devout disciples who held me in great esteem. Having paid me his sincere regards, he made a promise to visit again with his whole family whenever next he was back in his native place.

Seeing him off after a warm hug, when I returned to my room, I found my grandchildren enveloped with extreme joy. They were playing with their new digital toys. Throughout my life I had to bear pecuniary hardships due to my paltry salary. A poor teacher with limited recourses fights a battle to keep the wolf of hunger away from his door. But now my sons were earning moderately well and we had a semi-comfortable living, partially free from any financial crisis. But I had no regrets in life.

As a teacher, I had been instrumental in enriching our national resources and adding to the wealth of our country by contributing to socially responsible and civilised citizens. Today, many of my students are at the top rung of the ladder in various fields. I have produced teachers, doctors, lawyers, administrative officers, top-notch business magnates and corporate honchos.

Are they not the real treasure-trove for a man like me? How could then I am a poor teacher? A retired headmaster, I have an immense sense of satisfaction for my small, but a very significant contribution to society. That is a matter of pride and joy in itself.

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