My enormous wealth... - Dr. Navniit Gandhi

Dr. Navniit Gandhi
Thursday, September 3, 2015

An eleven-year old shy girl was trying to grapple with the turmoil of adolescence. One paramount emotion at the time was: ‘My parents do not love me… nobody loves me…’ Sitting alone on a school bench, with head bowed down, I was shedding tears. I felt somebody’s hand on my head, and a loving voice asked me as to what was the matter. I looked up. My History teacher was standing next to me. Everybody around was pretty scared of her towering presence and thundering voice. But, that day, her glance and her voice were full of love. She simply comforted and didn’t say much that day. However, as days went by—she wiped the mist from my eyes and enabled me to look at myself and my loved ones, more clearly. Painstakingly, my fears and insecurities were erased from my mind by my teacher. She had shaped my persona, for life…

It was an ordinary school. The building was dilapidated. There was no playground worth the name… and neither were a library and a laboratory existent. When parents had exhausted their efforts at getting their wards admitted in any of the decent schools in the vicinity, they landed at our school. Being new entrants to the city—my parents had missed the crucial deadlines for gaining admission in a respectable school. I had to be admitted somewhere, and so there I was.

A few months in Grade I and my parents were in for a pleasant shock. The school had a hidden trove of some very out-of-the-world and the most marvellous teachers that there could ever be. Year after year, a chunk from this treasure touched my life and the Midas’s touch went on transforming me and my life steadily. Each year, as I would bid a tearful adieu to the teachers of a grade, I was in for still stronger bonds of reverence and love with the new set, in the next grade. The teachers could not boast of impeccable academic credentials but could teach superbly, mentor strongly, counsel wisely and moulded us, for life.

My wealth increased by leaps and bounds as I entered college. As luck could have it, the college too was a mediocre one—adjudging by exterior standards. The crowd was not a happening one and the college did not enjoy an enviable name and stature. Some of the teachers did not have any or many publications and Seminar presentations to their credit but there lay a storehouse of knowledge underneath their simplicity. They did not live in ivory towers. The ordinary students would become extraordinary by the time they graduated from the college. This wealth was shared unconditionally… showered on us liberally and yet, thousands of students always got plentiful. What we learnt from the textbooks was just a small percentage of what constituted our Learning. Our thought processes were given wings; our values streamlined; and our limitations, insecurities and complexes handled deftly. I had what some of the otherwise privileged learners in the enviable institutions of learning may not have had. And the wealth poured in from all Departments—Hindi, English, Political Science, Economics, History, and all others.

Before completing two decades on this planet, Life had convinced me that there was no wealth and no power loftier than what could be conferred and had, through plunging in these synonymous processes of learning and teaching. There was no indecisiveness. There was no brainstorming I had with myself regarding what would I gain and what would it entail; or what would the challenges be like; or where would I be placed vis-à-vis my friends and batch-mates.

I joined a College as a Lecturer. I was in for a still bigger surprise. Lo! Behold! The wealth was far greater on the other side. I had imagined myself to be an enriched soul, after gaining steadily from my teachers. But, I was wrong. Life on the other side of the table was far more enriching. There were unspeakable showers of love, affection, adoration and wisdom. Never was there a dull moment, while in the classroom. The young bright minds needed a little spark and the warmth they would exude, was sufficient to encounter the challenges. The emoluments; the working conditions; the issue of confirmations, and reservations and merit more often than not being side-lined seemed trivial before the sensation of doing something meaningful in life…

Of course, not all students are interested in what one has to say, and not at all times; not all students reciprocate in equivalent proportions; not all days are sunny and bright; not all academic decisions that trickle from the top are wise; not all work either is academic—there is a huge load of clerical tasks that are thrust down on teachers; there is competition and there are setbacks too.

However, while the above difficulties may grace other professions as well, the beauty in mine is that despite them—one remains the most contented soul. There are newer joys to look forward to, each time when one steps into the classroom.

And, the miracle is that while the salaries may not be comparable with what one can secure in careers such as Medicine, Engineering, Law—but nevertheless, a Teacher remains the wealthiest!!! The riches are scattered all around; one has to simply and sincerely work, and one’s lap is filled forever and there is no fear of its theft or depletion, either.

I am the wealthiest... The Midas touch has passed on to me.

Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academic, and a freelance writer/columnist. She has been writing extensively for several newspapers, magazines, web-portals and academic publications and has authored five Books, till date.
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