Ramesh was busy with a client when he got a phone call from his friend Ali. Ali without any formality came to the point and informed him about the death of their beloved teacher Mr. Mehta. Hearing this sad news, he got upset. He told Ali to meet him in the evening.
In evening Ali along with Manoj reached Ramesh's house. All three were fast friends since their childhood. They were the students of Mr. Mehta in high school.
"He was such a nice man and a great teacher. It is his teaching and guidance which made us something in life," Ramesh said.
Manoj said, "I want to see him for the last time. I am setting off tonight."
"Me too," said Ali. Thinking for a while Ramesh said, "I too go with you."
Manoj said, "That's good."
They gathered at the home of Ali around midnight and started their journey together in a car. The residence of Mr. Mehta was in a small town about two hundred kilometers from Mumbai. The car was running towards the town. They were silent. They were going to this town after decades. This is a town where they got their higher secondary education. Ramesh and Manoj got their high school education in the school of their village. Both of them were born in the same village. Ali was born in a rich family of the town. This was the town where Mr. Mehta came into their life as a teacher. Mr. Mehta was something more than a teacher to them.
After completing school education, they left this town and came to Mumbai for a college education. Ali and Ramesh took admission in the same college. Manoj was interested in engineering. He took admission in an engineering college.
After graduation, Ali was interested in business so he opened a branch of his father's business. Ramesh got a job in the banking sector. Manoj was an engineering graduate, began his career as an engineer for a multinational company.
The car was running towards the town and they were walking down the memory lane.
Ali said, "Sometimes I think what would happen to us if Mehta sir had not met and guided us.
They lost in the memories of their student life in the town. After passing the high school exam, Ramesh and Manoj’s parents sent them to the town for higher secondary school education. They stayed in a hostel. In town, they were away from the parents' eyes. They were free from the parents' control. Here they got a friend named Ali. Soon they fall victim to bad habits. They used to bunk the class to watch the movie. They had no interest in studies. Soon their names were included in the list of the most mischievous students. They had no fear of punishment from the teachers.
They soon began to take tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. All this began to affect their studies badly. Soon they lost their interest in studies. Days were passing. One day, at the period of physics, their physics teacher didn't come. Some students were talking to each other, some were studying and some were making a noise. All of a sudden someone entered the classroom. The students didn't know who he was. Some students taking him seriously became alert silent while others continued making a noise. At that time Ali was flying a paper rocket. That man spoke loudly, "I am your new physics teacher. Don't make a noise."Hearing this all the students became silent immediately. Ali was at the other corner of the classroom with a paper rocket in his hands. He was caught red-handed. The new teacher made him stand on his chair."I can't bear indiscipline in my class," The new teacher said to his students.
The name of the new teacher was Sameer Mehta. He was a young, healthy, and smart man of age about twenty-five years. The first period of his first day passed in taking and giving an introduction. In recess, Ali who was feeling insulted, expressed his dislike for Mehta, "I dislike that proud Mehta master." Manoj and Ramesh approved him on the matter. Both of them were unhappy over the punishment given to Ali. And they turned against their new teacher without any proper reason.
One evening, Ali, Ramesh and Manoj went to a theatre to watch a movie. After watching the movie they returned to the hostel late and could not complete their homework. The next day Mehta found them in kneeling position out of the classroom. When asked for the reason, they replied that they hadn't completed the homework given by the chemistry teacher. That time Mehta didn't say them anything else. The next period was of Mehta. He asked them why they didn't do their homework. Ali replied, "Sir, my mother is seriously ill and I had to take her to hospital."
"And your hospital is at the theatre," Mehta said in anger.
Ali got shocked hearing this. The teacher caught his lie. Mehta stared at Manoj and Ramesh with anger. They bowed their heads. Mehta said, “I don’t like those who tell a lie.”
Mehta said, “I saw all of you coming out of the theatre last night.”
Ali said timidly, “Sorry sir.”
Mehta, “Look Ali, You may watch movies but only after completing your assignment or homework.”
He turned to the other students in the class and said, “Look, students. Student life is a golden period of your life. Your futures depend on how much you learn in your student life. Pay your attention on your studies. Spend as much time as you can in your studies.”
He again turned to Ali and his friends and said, “All of you three had a bad reputation in the school. And you Manoj and Ramesh are living in the hostel. Hostel’s warden reported to me that you both have no interest in the studies. Both of you spend evenings and nights in playing and fun making.”
He paused for a moment or two and then said, “All of you three will have to mend your ways or I will have to be strict with you.”
All three were trembling with fear. Manoj said meekly, “Yes sir.”
Mehta said with anger, “get lost.”
Next week, Mehta took a surprise test. In the test, all the students passed except five students. Manoj, Ali, and Ramesh were included in the failed students. Mehta called them in the staff room and said to them, “I advised you last time for mending your ways but you didn’t listen to me. All of you failed in the test. So tell me what do I do with you people?”
They have no answer to his question. He waited for the answer for a while and then said, “From now I will monitor you personally. I will give one more chance. I will give your tests for every subject from next week. So start your studies this evening. Pass these tests otherwise, I will have to inform the principal and call your parents.”
They said, “Yes sir.”
Mehta said, “Ramesh and Manoj, The warden will keep an eye on both of you.”
They have no other option except to take their teacher’s advice seriously. They began preparing for the tests. They didn’t want to face the punishment from the principal and their parents.
They took the tests. They were sure of getting passed in the tests. Ramesh had doubts.
“Well done, all of you have passed in the tests. Although the marks are poor, all of you are making progress. I will give you other tests next week. Begin preparation. I want all of you to score goods marks in the tests.”
So being motivated by their teacher, they began preparation for the teats more seriously. This time they got good marks in the tests.
“You can do better than this. All of you are still running behind the other students in the class. I want all of you to do well in the monthly tests. Be a competitor. Give a tough competition to other students of the class. Try to get the first position. Manoj was one of those students who never think of getting top position in the exams, in spite of being intelligent. Hearing the words of Mehta, the thought of getting top position came into his mind. He was exited. He began preparation enthusiastically. Seeing his friends studying hard, Ramesh too got inspired.
All the teachers and students were surprised and happy to see the positive changes in these three most notorious students.
Monthly tests were near. One day the warden of the hostel visit Mehta and told him something bad about Ramesh and Manoj. It was shocking to Mehta.
As expected by all, they did well in the monthly tests. Manoj got the second position in the exam. He missed the first position by only five marks. Ali and Ramesh too got good marks in the exam.
“Well done, my boy,” Mehta praised him.
“Sir, I am sure of getting top position in final exams,” He said with confidence.
Mehta said to them, “All of you three meet me in my home today evening.”
They didn’t know why their teacher called them at home. When they reached Mehta’s home, they found him in a serious mood.
“It came to knew that all of you are fond of smoking,” He came to the point.
Ramesh replied in low voice and with some hesitation, “No, No sir.”
Mehta said calmly, “Don’t tell a lie to me.” He paused for some moments and then said, “Look, what type of life you want to live in the future. If you want to live a healthy and happy life, quit smoking and drinking. Do you know how hard your parents work to afford your school fee and other expenses? How they cut their expenses to fulfill your expenses. How they forget their own dreams and luxuries to manage money to give you a better education. And you squander money in bad habits. Think about all this and quit these habits.”
He paused for a while. All were silent. All three were feeling guilty. Manoj said, “I promise sir, I will never smoke and drink again.”
“We too,” the other two said.
He looked at them and said, “So I hope all of you will keep your promise. I will see.”
At night, in the hostel room Manoj expressed his point of view, “Mehta sir is our well-wisher and wants our well being. I think we should quit these bad habits. We spend hundreds of rupees in smoking and drinking.”
“We are buying diseases from the market,” Ali said.
Ramesh said, “We can save hundreds of rupees and spend these rupees in good things and works.”
“That’s right,” Ali cried with enthusiasm.
Manoj, “From tomorrow I am going to quit smoking and drinking.”
Ali and Ramesh said loudly, “We too.”
It was another big step taken by them which brought a great change in their health and life.
Now all of three were doing well and scoring good marks in the test. Manoj was giving a tough competition to the topper of the class. And at the end of the year, in the final exam, Manoj got the top position in the class. Ali and Ramesh got the first rank - a remarkable improvement from being failed in test to getting the first rank.
They came out of the memory lane when the driver stopped the car before a hotel to take tea.
Sipping the tea, Ali said, “He was really a great teacher who showed us light and brought us out of the dark of indiscipline and bad habits.”
Manoj said, “Not only we but also there were many other students who got Mehtaji’s guidance and got success in their lives.”
“We will always remain indebted to him,” Ramesh said. Their eyes were wet.
They reached there by the morning. They were looking at the town through the windows; everything was changed with time in that small town. Buildings and shopping malls took place of small houses and shops
They reached at the nick of the time. The dead body was about to take to funeral ground. A lot of people were present to see him for the last time. They took part in the funeral. They stay there till the dead body burnt to ash.
Mehta sir was not alive now, but his memories were alive with his students.