Monday, September 04, 2006

Chemistry Miss

Let us see if I can write this without getting too sappy. Teacher's Day in India is celebrated on September 5. This post is a tribute to one teacher who has made all the difference in my life. I studied from kindergarten till high school in the same school, and Chemistry Miss (that is what she is still called by me and my friends and family who know her or know about her) came to our school when I was in my sixth grade. As is usual, one of my class-mates was asking me on the first day of school which Miss I liked that year, and even though I did not know anything about Chemistry Miss, I pointed to her. Needless to say, my class-mate thought I was out of my mind.

I was a mediocre unmotivated student who passed her exams but did not do much more than that till my sixth standard. During my sixth standard, when we started studying three different subjects (Physics, Chemistry and Biology) instead of one (Science), I started learning from her. I still remember the first exam we had in our chemistry class. I got something like 50 or so out of 100, and when she handed the test back to me, she said that she does not understand why I don't apply myself more as I can do much better then. That was the first time I had heard something like this and it took me by surprise. It sounds cheesy now, but at that time, I thought that if Chemistry Miss thinks I can, then I sure can. That was motivation enough for me to start doing better. It started with chemistry but gradually made a difference in other subjects as well.

I used to try and invent reasons to go talk to her and gradually our friendship grew. If she ever gave me a special assignment, I would be on Cloud 9. I used to think that if I did not do well in an exam, she got upset, but that could just be my imagination. She was a very dedicated teacher who wanted all her students to excel, and so my thinking that she wanted more marks for me felt nice then, but could not be true. When we would go on trips in school (we went to such cool places as Kutralam, Aurangabad etc.), Chemistry Miss used to tell us stories about her native town and the movies she has seen (when she wouldn't talk about movies at school at all). On one of these trips she was telling me that she would like for me to study really well and achieve all that she couldn't achieve. I was not sure exactly what she meant but decided then that I wanted to excel in my education.

When we were in our 12th standard, she had some health problem and had to have surgery and take some time off. We got a substitute teacher for chemistry, but he was no good (how could anybody be on par with Chemistry Miss?). When she found out about it, she was concerned about our final exams (12th standard is a big deal, isn't it?!) and decided to tutor us from her house. She got into trouble with our school management for that, but she was still willing to take the risk for the sake of her students. So we would all drive our bicycles to her house and study chemistry when someone from her family would make snacks for us. I have never seen anybody do such things for their students.

I finished high school and went off to college to a different city but still kept in touch with her through letters, phone calls and visits when I came home. Then I moved to the US and still kept in touch with her for a few years. Then we lost touch due to some misunderstandings and other things in life. But still, I often remember what she has taught me (hard work, sincerity and humility in addition to chemistry) and how she has helped me get to where I am. I have thought about setting up a scholarship fund or something else in my school for her, but haven’t done it as I am not sure how she will like it. Maybe it will happen one of these days. Maybe I will get in touch with her again one of these days. But for now, I am just grateful for a person like her to have come in to my life and steering me in the right direction.

11 comments:

செல்வராஜ் (R.Selvaraj) said...

There is always a Miss or a Sir that touches one during school days. I for one, had several of those who were interested in me (atleast I thought) and inspired me. Life happenned, and its been a while since I kept in touch with any of them. Hmm...

Seen this? I once wrote about my Physics teacher.

Nithya said...

Selvaraj, I had not seen your article on your Physics teacher before. Good one. I consider myself lucky for having one teacher like Chemistry Miss. So luckier you for having more than one.

Raman said...

Every one of the teachers who taught me touched my life directly or indirectly; and I never had an opportunity to express those thoughts while they were alive and we did not have a medium like blog those days. Those teachers were dedicated and interested to see their students excel in their studies.

I am very touched about the way you now feel about your chemistry teacher. I hope your chemistry miss has access to your blog and gets to read your random thoughts. She will feel blessed to have students like you as most of the time teachers' job is thankless.

delphine said...

Maybe it will happen one of these days///
It is never late Nithya.. It is one way of expressing or reciprocating our love to them.. Good job Nithya..

Nithya said...

Raman: Most of the times we don't get to express our gratitude to the ones who have helped us (that includes people other than teachers as well). That is why I try to practise random acts of kindness when I can. Unfortunately, Chemistry Miss does not know about my blog. But I am going to try to let her know either through old fashioned letter or when I go to India next time. Thanks for your comments.

Nithya said...

Yes, Delphine. Better late than never. Because of the thought process while writing this blog, I am more inclined to do something in recognition of this great teacher. So I will try in earnest when I go to India next time. Thanks for the encouraging words.

Manoj said...

dunno how i came to ur blog... but u r jus so sweet to thank ur guru in a spl way... she is really blessed to have u Nithya... My salutes to u...

The Jongleur said...

Happened to chance upon your blog from Ram Vishwanathan's blog, and your style of writing is very very aprealing ideed. Love the descriptive approach you adopt, and I especially liked your posts on grocery shopping and apartment hunting.

Everyone has one teacher they never forget, and I am lucky I have a few as well, but merely reading this wants me to run back to Madras, see my teachers, just to say one word - "Thanks..."..... and an immense one at that.

seetha said...

why no updates?

Ramki said...

Wow! That is quite touching... You definitely didn't sound sappy. I had a great chemistry teacher in my school days and I think that was definitely something that drove me toward chemical engineering. Unfortunately, I haven't been in touch with her since I completed 12th std.

Nithya said...

Thanks for all the comments.

Have been busy with moving to Houston and getting settled there. Will try to write soon.

Thanks for the enquiry, Seetha.