Happy Teachers’ Day!

The air today seems to be carrying some positivity with it. Perhaps that’s why I feel like scribbling down some of my random thoughts on a piece of paper; trying to overcome my writer’s block (which actually is my excuse for laziness). Sitting in class while the teacher delivers his lecture, I look around my classroom and only see “grown-ups” sitting all around me. ‘We all have come a long way,’ I say to myself. From all the scolding and beatings in school to the lectures on maturity in college – we have faced it all. Bravo, I say!

And then suddenly, I am reminded of today’s date. It’s the 4th today. So that means it’ll be the 5th of September tomorrow, which is Teachers’ Day. On thinking about Teachers’ Day, I have a flashback. I lose myself to the memories of the past. There I see myself, as a small kid, running through the school corridors, laughing. As I’m running, I fall down. I hurt my knees. Tears trickle down my cheeks. One of my teachers comes to my aid. She picks me up and holds me close to her, and whispers soothing words into my ear and makes me feel better.

Teachers – what an important role they’ve played in my life.

I have faint memories of that first year in school. I’d always see my class teacher smiling at me, even when I often disturbed the whole class with my constant crying and shouting, wanting to go home. I remember how the teacher would hold my hand when my fingers failed to write some letters of the English alphabet. I remember, faintly though, how my teacher tried to calm me down, and explained that the school was like home and the teachers like parents. I remember the teacher who tried to get me talking to other kids in the class when I was too shy to talk to them. I remember the teacher who scolded me when I threw pieces of paper on the classroom floor even when the dustbin was just a few steps away. At home, I took things for granted; I’d wait for my mom to pick up the things I threw on the floor and expected her to.

I remember the teacher who tried to help me overcome my fear of public speaking. The very thought of facing an audience made me shiver from head to toe. Yet, she was adamant to help me and persuaded me to participate. During a competition, when it was my turn to speak on stage, my mind went completely blank; I totally forgot my speech. I ran off stage crying, telling myself that I’d never ever try to speak publicly on stage again. I remember that teacher speaking to me at length the next day, encouraging me and telling me that it did not matter if I did not win, what mattered was to overcome my fear to speak in public. These words became so important to me. She got me to speak again, and to everyone’s surprise, including my own, I won a prize in public speaking. I learnt an important lesson that day – if we fail in something, things work out only if we try over and over again. Giving up is never an option.

Then there were some teachers I didn’t like. I remember the teacher who made me stand outside the class for half an hour as punishment for chewing gum in the class, a habit I got rid of only recently. I remember the teacher who slapped me when I scored a zero in my Mathematics test. I suffered from Mathematics phobia in my early school days which was followed by a phobia of physics and chemistry too. But then how can I forget those teachers who helped me find ‘solutions’ to all the ‘problems’ of these not-so-interesting subjects for me. Solutions are there for all your problems, you only need to put in sincere efforts to find them — another lesson I learnt from my teachers that I can’t forget.

There was a teacher who helped me with grammar and writing; without his help, I wouldn’t have been able to write this article. I remember the teacher whose way of speaking and reading Urdu made me fall in love with Urdu poetry. They were teachers who were more like good friends than teachers. I was so comfortable around them. They were truly the ‘friend, philosopher and guide’ types, like we read in essays about the qualities of a good teacher.

And then there were some who’d keep scolding me for no reason. And I didn’t particularly like them.

At all stages of life I’ve found teachers who greatly encouraged me and some who were discouraging too. But now when I look back, I realize that their discouragements became encouragements for me. Maybe they did so deliberately; perhaps they knew it would only strengthen my resolve to achieve something.

To all those teachers from school and college, to my parents who taught me to take the first step while holding my hand, and to everyone else I have learnt something from, all I can say in return is a big, heartfelt THANK YOU. Thank you for inspiring me, for correcting me, for making me learn some valuable lessons of life without me realizing them on my own at the time. Thank you for helping me overcome my worst fears. Thank you for being my teacher. I value you truly, not just on Teachers’ Day but every day. Thank you for being there by my side and helping me learn the difference between good and bad. Thank you for making me capable enough to make my own choices in life.

And as I finish this, I realize how my teachers have helped me yet again – I don’t have a writer’s block anymore!

Happy Teachers’ Day!

About Samreen Mushtaq

Samreen Mushtaq is a Staff Writer for Jamia Journal, and a PhD student in the Department of Political Science. She can be reached via email at: samreen_mushtaq[at]ymail.com

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