Saturday, February 14, 2015

Mani Sir

Mani Sir was no ordinary teacher.

Indeed he was no teacher at all.

Flowing silken white beard. Ash on his forehead. Flowing hair. Wore a kurta and a dhoti - sometimes saffron, mostly white. And he wore actual wooden slippers (I thought that was cool and wanted to try how that held on the feet). And came to school on a rickety bicycle (with those wooden slippers).

He was old, I don't know how old. Whatever his age was, he was active and always full of energy. He was different from the other teachers with his glowing visage and gentle demeanor. He was tall and stood with great command.

As gentle as he was, he commanded the students attention. And in his class, never did the students ever create a ruckus - I wonder why. Perhaps he knew how to channel energy or perhaps he just let them be. I remember him asking us to make noise, but keep it under control - which no other teacher ever told us. I don't remember him raising his voice.

He was not a regular teacher - though I suspect he could teach any student anything. He would turn up when there was a need for a substitute teacher.  Perhaps he lived nearby and came in at short notice. We never knew.

But when he came in, we were happy - because that meant the regular subject teacher was not there. As children, that meant fun rather than studies. So, I guess all classes welcomed him.

I remember how he most shared stories in his soft. Interesting stories. Stories that made us think. Made us play a game or two. A quiz. Some questions. Or let us be.

I still remember myself swelling with pride when I answered 'rickshaw' for some question he asked. And he added it by saying that it was 'jinrickshaw' in some parts of the world. And once, I learnt that tuition had that extra i in it (that shocked me, I had no idea).

We knew nothing more about him. He came gently and went away gently. But as learning experiences go, he remains imprinted in my mind.

The teacher without a title perhaps! Thank you Mani Sir, wherever you are. 

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