J Clement Selvaraj

Children Stories Drama Inspirational


J Clement Selvaraj

Children Stories Drama Inspirational

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose Teacher

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose Teacher

5 mins

Every time I see a rose flower, I would remember my primary school teacher who shared the name with the beautiful flower. Perhaps, before I was introduced to the flower its name was familiar to me, thanks to Rose Teacher. Seventeen years of formal classroom education and more than three decades of societal life later, thinking about Rose Teacher still strikes a note of melancholy in my mind. 

 The simple mother-next-door appearance and kind-hearted approach of Rose Teacher made her the mother of every child under her care. She did not come from an affluent background, as endorsed by her simplicity. Besides, for many who believed in external magnificence, more than inner beauty, her name would not have befitted her external appearance. But true to Gertrude Stein’s famous quote “A rose is a rose is a rose,” to me Rose Teacher was to the core an appeasing rose itself.

A torn pair of sandals barely covered her cracked heels as she trekked the stony terrain between her house and the sub-urban primary school each day. Among her other hallmarks were a pair of black-rimmed spectacles, a brown resin handbag dangling from her shoulder and a discolored umbrella. I had never seen her wearing gaudy attires and all I could ever recollect was her wearing a cream colour sari with black patterns, apart from her pleasing smile, of course.

Rose Teacher was introduced to us in the third standard, after having experienced two trauma-filled years in the hands of unyielding parents and intimidating teachers enroute to my erudition. It was while trying to accustom with the unsympathetic learning experience a gentle breeze in the form of Rose Teacher began to waft through my school life. Rose Teacher never carried a cane like most of the teachers who appeared like terrors to the eyes of the timid new school-entrants. And nor did she believe in shouting abuse at erring children. All she ever practiced was sustaining a smile coupled with speaking sweet, kind words.

Like me, many of my earlier contemporaries discovered the true pleasure of treading the initial steps of learning on coming under the care of Rose Teacher. She was neither talkative nor taciturn. Kindness, smile and simplicity best described her Persona. I had never seen her dealing with anyone, the most mischievous pupil included, with a trait not mentioned above. Rose Teacher never furiously threw a piece of chalk on the face of an inattentive boy or girl. I still remember my beloved Rose Teacher repeatedly referring to names of the most inattentive pupils in the class to gain their attention. I, in my later years of class room learning, have seen teachers behaving as though students in the back benches did not exist at all. Are not the back benches too meant for accommodating some or other students? 

Rose Teacher believed in her students’ abilities and was instrumental in digging out the inborn talents of her students, contrary to unbelieving strip-searching teachers of the modern era. She ensured participation of each and every student of hers in various activities she practiced to make learning funny and interesting for us. Mostly, she would take us to the giant mango tree in the school premises in the afternoons. She would recite poems or narrate stories to her students, most of whom would otherwise be sleeping in the noisy class room separated by wooden dividers from class rooms on either side. Her smart classes under the mango tree, reinforced by the twittering birds from tree tops and tittering leaves from the branches to the tune of the gentle waft, made learning an amazing experience right from my initial years.

One of the best qualities of Rose Teacher, as I realized later, was she spent even the spare time with her students. She hardly went out during the break time. Instead, she stayed with her students, who were mostly shy to go out. She would reach out to the reticent for learning more about them. She would ask about our families and other details to understand more about us. We were thus closely bonded to Rose Teacher that even a sickness would not deter most of us to skip school for a day.

A couple of years after I passed Rose Teacher’s class when, instead of correcting me, an angry old mathematics teacher barked at me and threw down my notebook for incorrectly working out a problem, tears veiled my eyes at reminiscing the love and patience of my favourite Rose Teacher.

Also, in my later school and college days, whenever I came across a considerate teacher I was reminded of one or other trait of my favourite Rose Teacher. It was as though she had established certain yardsticks for assessing the desirable qualities of a teacher, by herself being at the high end of the yardstick through her perfection. She had set benchmarks to gauge the excellence of not only the teachers I came across later but the senior colleagues and mentors in my professional life as well.

More than two decades after I passed Rose Teacher’s class I happened to meet her one evening. She was walking back home in the evening as usual. Years had not changed her much excepting a few grey hairs on her head. I introduced myself as one of her students more than two decades ago. She smiled and asked me what I was doing, halting her walk for a while. Expressing thankfulness at my recollection she furled the umbrella and shoved it into her handbag before resuming her journey alongside the tarred road as the sun finally shied behind the pale clouds on the horizon. 

For many who climb great academic heights the commemoration of a humble primary school teacher, like my favourite Rose Teacher, would not bear much significance in this fast moving world. But, no doubt, such meek souls play a great role in shaping one’s character and making him humane, the key for scaling heights later in professional and societal life. 

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