WALKING ON THE RAILWAY TRACK
WALKING ON THE RAILWAY TRACK
One of my brilliant students was coming from a very lower-middle-class status. He was under grown for his age and at 9th standard, he looked like a primary school child. I had seen his uniform, the white shirt almost pale yellow, and even today I remember, that for the lack of a button, he used to put a large diaper pin across, almost hurting the eyes of the viewers, but he was less worried about it.
As usual, as the year was ending I asked this boy, which college he intends to join after your school. (This boy is in the US now and this boy’s true name I will not mention, as it may not be very apt for his family) He told me that he had three younger sisters, and his financial condition was not so good, he cannot be offered to go to college but may take up a job somewhere.
I was really shocked. I told him about my college, where the principal admitted me just for RS 60/ in place of Rs 150/- (The year 1960) manage to get admission by just seeing my good scores in SSC. Hence, he could also get admission. Once he is in, he will get a scholarship throughout to complete his education.
He said, that still, his mother may not agree, as his father was away in some other place for his service. I told him that I will personally visit his home and convince his mother,
That day after school at 1.30 pm, in the blazing hot sun, ( Our school worked on two shifts those days) I went with him. He took me through the Pune railway tracks as that was the shortcut to his house, which was quite far away. Walking through that, pebbled stones of the railway, we walked for half an hour and reached a narrow gully. Again, after about half an hour of walking and we reached his house. I explained the procedure of college admission to his mother and promised her in case still if there is any difficulty, I will help by talking to some known professors, at my college( Helping with money would hurt the child’s self-respect).
Lost touch with him as I shifted to Mumbai after Marriage... Maybe after 25 to 28 years, one day I was on my to Matunga market. There was a simple marriage hall, Nepu Hall, on my way. As I was just crossing I heard someone calling me and on turning I found two girls aged around 30Yrs, in typical Kanjipuram silk sarees, calling me. As I stopped, they ran to me and invited me to the hall, as the thread ceremony of my student's son was going on in that hall, and they were the sisters of that student. I was in my usual simple cotton sari I hesitantly walked inside a well-dressed Kanjeewarm sarees. I thought, that I will stand there for a few minutes, and excuse myself on some pretext.
I walked to the end of the group and stood behind everyone. I watched my student, a well-grown man now, on the stage performing the Pooja rituals with his wife and son. Now his sister ran to him and whispered to him. To the surprise of the entire hall and the Purohits, he excused himself from the Pooja and walked straight away towards me with his young wife and son with all that garland
As I stood shocked, all three of them fell on my feet and did a Sastanga Dantavath Namaskarm. He then said, “Madam whatever I am today, and my sisters and my family, we all owe everything to you. If you had not shown me the path, this could not have happened”.
I felt so embarrassed as the whole crowd started watching me. The boy has left the Pooja halfway, and had come to do Namaskar to an ordinary-looking lady. He added, that after his college he went to software ( 25 years ago Software was not so much heard) After that he went to the US. His 3 sisters had got well educated and all of them were in high positions in Banks in Mumbai. The three girls stood around me as if I was some prized possession.
More surprising was when his young wife, told me that my student often used to speak about me, to his family, and they were all looking forward to meeting me someday. As the Pooja was still on, I escaped lunch and came out.
But this child will remain ever in my memory. On our path as teachers, we try to improve every child’s life. Many like this boy really reach the peak and still remember, we humble teachers.