In 2011, I found myself jobless and directionless after completing my graduation. I was so vella (useless) I even wrote a poem on my joblessness and directionless-ness. My mother, ever my saviour, at the time was teaching in a school and they desperately needed someone to teach the ninth grade C++. I was apparently the perfect candidate since I had not only learnt C++ in school; in a moment of utter lunacy I had also enrolled myself to this ‘training and developing’ institute’s industry program to earn a diploma in software engineering.
The appointment was swift, the time-table charted out with alacrity and before I knew it, I had been handed a rather pink-coloured textbook that contained everything (or not much since it was a rather thin textbook) I needed to teach.
Twenty-one year old trying to teach fifteen year olds…what could possibly go wrong?
The night before my foray into the teaching world, my friends graciously called me a traitor for going to the wrong side of a teacher’s desk and my mother (again very graciously) warned me of all the jokes and innuendos that children made with statements like ‘inserting a pen drive’ and ‘cotton balls.’ Thoroughly scandalized and petrified, all I could say was – ajkal ki (this) generation.
When I entered the classroom filled with twenty-odd students, my first thought was – these boys are so big. Now I am not small. I am big and yet when I saw the students I was supposed to be teaching, I wanted to turn tail and RUN.
I ran through my first fifteen minutes like it was a race and the winner would be the first person to reach the pavilion. But then something amazing happened. I realized my students were as petrified as I was! They were new to the school and had no idea what to expect; just like me. See these children had learning difficulties and they had been unceremoniously dumped from their ‘regular’ schools since they had not earned the requisite percentage. The education system had unceremoniously dumped me too into the big bad world with zero skills to get myself a job. We were in the same proverbial boat. Once I realized this, the rest of the twenty-five minutes weren’t so bad.
Soon, I found my rhythm and teaching became easy…until my students concluded I was thirty or thirty-five years old. For someone who was used to being pegged as older than her real age, it really hit me when they thought I was rather…old. Although the flip side was when they realized I was closer to their age than their mothers’, they started taking all kinds of advantages of my very obliging nature. In fact I got such a bad reputation for teaching only thirty minutes of the assigned forty, the other teachers started to complain. In my defence, I had a thin textbook to teach and they had subjects like Math and English.
An example of them taking advantage:
These were the same kids who believed me when I said I had ten boyfriends but refused to believe me when I said I had none.
The two years that I taught in Nalanda are some of my fondest memories. The amount of love I got from the students was the best high I could have ever received. I am not saying it was always this hunky-dory (the post after all is about nostalgia and I choose to remember the happy memories rather than the crappy ones) but the type of adulation you get from a student, the fact that they actually take you seriously, and that you have this power to make a difference in their life…it is the best feeling in the world.