PrEm Ji

PILGRIM'S PROGRESS (Short story)

PILGRIM'S PROGRESS

 

“Your new creation is lovely! Is it a Caterham 7 replica?”  A news reporter from city news channel asked me.

“Yes… It is based on the Lotus Seven – a light weight sports car…My students made it using components picked up from scrapyards…”

“Now… tell me frankly: do you each them anything?”

“I am afraid … no!”

💙

Often, people go on pilgrimage when they are at a crossroads in their lives, even I not an exception. I had been busy with teaching engineering, especially Automobile Engineering, since the early years of the new millennium.

I have always felt a steep decline of quality among students, right from the very next year of joining into government service. There could be many reasons, like over-protectionism by parents, educational liberalism by governments, and excessive sympathy through child protection activism etc. Whatever it is, I had been undergoing some horrible sort of monotony. I found it very difficult to face students with lack of interest.  

“Why don’t you go on a pilgrimage?” my wife asked while handing over a steaming cup of coffee.

“What?”

“You are undergoing a change in your life’s direction… It’s time to take a proper decision, whether to continue or take up something new…”

“Yes…”

“But… It will be quite difficult to take up something new… See, you are not a young-man in your twenties… And of-course, you have to take of our little boys too…”

“But, where can a teacher go on a pilgrimage?”

“Where-else other than the footsteps of a great teacher…,” she replied casually.

💙

It was nearing two o'clock in the afternoon…

Mr Krishna Iyer, a retired Professor, from a reputed government aided college, was about to have his usual afternoon nap of two hours. Being one of his craziest students of yesteryears, I had the freedom to meet him at any time. But, I never misused it since his precious time belonged to immense number of students.

“Forgive me Sir… I had to interrupt your afternoon nap,” I said while touching his swelling feet for blessings. Guru will remain above God always, that’s the Indian way of belief.  

“That’s OK… Young-man…” he replied while touching my head with immense kindness. “Did you have anything in the afternoon?”

I remained silent.

“We don’t cook anything now-a-days… We pick something from the garden and eat…”  Mrs Iyer appeared with a huge piece of ripe Jack fruit. “You know, man is designed to eat what-so-ever suitable for him in its raw form…”

“Leftovers by the nature!” Iyer Sir completed.

His kind voice was sunken by the wild noises made by a group of parrots whom were busy attacking ripe Guavas.  The pale red plum bulbs of Jack fruit with extreme sweetness dissolved into my soul like sweet memories of begone years.

I separated the long, lean seeds… They are the ones who carry the same genetic purity as their mother-plant…

💙

Mr. Krishna Iyer was the finest Mathematics student of that college which stood above a small hill owned by Christian Management. Arch Bishop appointed him as lecturer in Mathematics on the very day he completed his Master’s degree. It was quite an unusual move that the teachers working there were devout Christians.

“Can you replace him with another great talent from our own community?” he asked openly to the persons who whimpered against his decision. They didn’t have an answer. “We run this college not for Christianity alone… It’s for humanity… See, education has one and only religion and that is human dignity…”

Arch Bishop was quite right in his decision. Within two or three, their Mathematics department became quite famous all over our little state popularly known as ‘God’s own country!’

And there was a transformation in his name too… Everyone started calling him ‘Iyer Sir’. Transformations are always associated with pain. But, he accepted it happily. After-all, what is there in a name?

💙

Iyer Sir sold his family property worth around several millions that too some thirty year back, to purchase a huge strip of land in the foothills of his college. He constructed a simple house with a huge hall in the ground-floor where at least a hundred students could be seated. It was not any sort of ‘private tuition’…

It was public tuition! And I was one among his earlier students. Mrs. Iyer was a very beautiful woman with extreme kindness. Unfortunately, they didn’t have children after many years of married life.

Iyer Sir and wife didn’t have much visitors from among their relatives, mainly due to their unconventional way of living. Their house was open to all which made ‘them’ call it a ‘Satram’. (Shelter for travelers). The Brahmin clan, they both belonged to, were quite rigid on their beliefs, rituals and other religious practices and were most comfortable to mingle with their community alone. Iyer Sir and wife, they both were very progressive in every action.

Mrs Iyer used to supply us butter milk, kept in a huge earthen pot, flavored with chilies, ginger and curry leaves, but with very less amount of salt.

“Please don’t waste food,” she told us just only once.

We were so careful enough not to spill even a single drop of it…We were so careful enough not to waste a single drop of it… We cleaned the class-room and which all places we used without any shame… We helped Mrs. Iyer in every possible way we could to maintain the harmony of that place. Young girls brought seedlings and saplings of various beautiful plants and created a small garden with great care.

“What are you doing?” Iyer Sir asked me.

“Planting some Jack fruit seeds… Sir...” I replied politely. “Your future students could relish the ripe fruits someday.”

“We will make it into a jungle…” friends shouted happily.

“O… That sounds great… Why don’t you plan a bit and create a forest with flowering trees?”

“Surely!” someone replied.

And he is one of the finest architects in India today!

💙

“So… What’s the purpose of your visit?” Iyer Sir asked.

I poured out the gush of my own afflictions and they both listened to me with utmost care.

“There are no bad students… only bad teachers… If they don’t listen to you, it means, you have nothing to inspire them…” Iyer Sir began to speak. “Now, tell me, why did you love to learn Maths?”

“Because I love you…”

“Yes… If you like a teacher, you will learn his or her subject very well… Love your students unconditionally… Then, they will follow every word that you speak… Make them feel, they are the most important people in your life… That’s it!”

“Of-course, I love them… but… I am not getting good results!”

“Prem… Do you have a role in enlightening, influencing, and encouraging the next generation?”

“Of-course, I have…”

“If you do, your examples and instruction will shape the future of your students…”  Iyer Sir said.

“Not only of your students, but also of their homes… You can even influence our nation…” Mrs. Iyer completed her husband’s argument.  

“Of-course, you are right…” I agreed.

“Prem… Did you ever try to create an all new vehicle to influence your students?” Iyer Sir banged my head with a sledge hammer!

“No… but, that’s beyond their syllabus…” I was getting uneasy.

“The word ‘Syllabus’ is a meaningless one in the new world! It’s time to get out of your zone of comfort… think differently… unconventionally… from a new perspective…” Iyer Sir said calmly. “Think out of the box to bring out the best from your students…”

“Possibilities are there that you may have a lot of foes in future,” Mrs Iyer laughed.

💙

 

PREMJI

Note: We made these 2 cars in our college campus...

  • Author: PrEmJi PrEmJi (Pseudonym) (Offline Offline)
  • Published: January 5th, 2022 10:20
  • Category: Unclassified
  • Views:
  • User favorite of this poem: L. B. Mek.

Comments1

  • L. B. Mek

    I,
    am the accumulation
    of all those
    who, invested in me
    with their words
    with their gifts
    with their Time
    and most of all
    with the lessons, of life
    they allowed me to glean
    before I too
    had to take that blind, leap
    and learn to dream...
    (such a delectable way
    to plate
    your proverbs and insight's, dear Poet
    a serving of wisdom
    to be mused over and appreciated..
    thank you!



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