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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Remembering Her

As everyday I reached the school gates on a cold winter morning in Korba. The rush of students, tens of buses (the one which stood out was always the Coal India township buses, white covered with layers of Coal dust), kids with their hair well-oiled, the sight of green blazers all over (a few scholar ones-red and blue), and the pink lady-birds and the black MTBs which had become so popular on those days welcomed me. As always Dutta bhaiya was on top of his voice, screaming on the gates and always giving that awesome smile when I entered the gates. That day I had not entered, I was standing at the front-gate with few of my friends, a green FIAT halted near the gates. Her green fiat is something which I distinctly remember, just like her red-shawl (which wa snever to be missed during winters), her commanding voice, and her accent which was very unique and just stays on with us. She got off the car and said, "Deshpande, clean your blazer properly before you come", and she walked away.

I was a four year old when I appeared for an admissions interview to DPS Korba, I vaguely remember a young handsome Thapar Sir (very little imagery, but I think its mostly constructed from the conversations I had with her) accompanied by her. She was the in-charge of junior sections and the interview was held at the Pragati Nagar campus. I was asked about my favorite cartoon character and I had danced all over the place like HE-MAN, and the panel had a nice laugh. I was given chocolates and an entry to DPS Korba- 8810 it was.

I met her last in 2004, she had lost a lot of weight, well that was the only thing which had changed, she looked the same, her eyes were still as expressive as always. She had made coffee and as she was talking about her new home at SADA and the change from the Yamuna Vihar home she suddenly mentioned, "Nowadays you don't watch He-Man, they don't show it anymore I believe?".

She was like that, she would recall the tiniest bits which would have happened, and bring them back to conversations. It was strange that despite being for my entire life in school I never got a chance to be her student. But I was fortunate it happened during my last year in school, Class 12th, it was just a coincidence that it was her last year too at the school. And as expected she was awesome, it was fun attending her classes, her voice modulations as she went through the English Literature stuff was brilliant, I vaguely remember the details, but it was a great feeling.

And in that year came a forgettable day, where for the first time she became so angry at us (I don't remember what had happened), she made the entire section stand and then she went and started punching back, this was not like her, she had become very angry with the behavior of few students in my section. Then as she finished the first column of benches, she came to one student and then she stopped (I believe it was Shameek or Swapnil) and then she cried. She then apologized for her actions, but conveyed how bad she had felt about the entire thing. Our entire class was not able to face her directly for a few days to come after that.

She was strict, but she was much more loving than that. Her touch was extremely special, she knew everyone's family in and out. Once in a while she would catch hold of me and ask me about home, about how my sis is finding the place, and am I enjoying my studies. She kept a tab on my studies as well that of 1000s others. I remember in Junior school Shameek used to be her favorite (or at-least that is what we presumed) and everyone wanted to be good in front of her. But she was never biased, she loved every student and really cared for us through all those years.

Also few things which I have memories of are that of her speech during Annual Function (she used to present an update of Junior school), she leading the assembly in case B Singh sir was absent (or later our other Principals), her screaming out for Kalpana Didi and Dashrath Bhaiya (that was actually funny, both of them were always scared when they reached her), her annual trip to U.S. and stories from her trip during assembly (I remember her talking about Yellow Stone national park, and Disneyland).

The last I had a really long conversation with her was in Dec, 2001. I was along with my family on a trip to South India and met her on Raipur airport. She was on the same flight with us to Mumbai (from where she was supposed to catch an international flight to Qatar maybe) and I took a seat next to her. This was my first flight ever, the first time I ever sat in a plane and I was lucky enough to experience my first flight with her. She talked about her trips, the years passed by in Korba, about her family in U.S. and a lot of other things. Even that was winter and she was wrapped in a red shawl.

I sometimes feel that over the years I should have tried to connect back with her, I think I called her once in 2006, to tell her my engineering was done and I would be joining job at Bangalore. Be it the meetups with school friends, or teacher's day or sometimes just like that, I would remember her and think that I should contact her. But I didn't do it for a few years, something which I would always regret.

We would all remember her, always...

1 comment:

[Amod] said...

I loved what I read. There are some brilliant, simple and altruistic people who didn't get the place they deserved. My high-school English teacher often called herself as lighthouse and us as passing ships. That's true.