Teachers - 1

The other day I was thinking of one of my teachers in my school days, Ms. Ida Mercy and was wondering why I still remember her. Then I try to remember all my teachers. Remarkably, all the teachers I could remember were my 8th standard teachers. I could not remember all my teachers before or after like that. And all of them are remarkable in one way or other. Hence this post as a way of thanking them for shaping me to who I am today.

I am not sure why this 8th standard (1988-89) is such a vital point that I had like the perfect alignment of teachers. May be that it is the year, I came of age and that they are all, unbelievably, the best of my teachers. I am not sure whether they had the same effect in anyone else like they did in my life.

I lost touch with everyone of them after school and today, I don't even know where they are.
This is the list of those excellent human beings who taught me in my 8th standard.

1. Ms. Sheela Shenbagavalli - English

What I remember about Ms. Sheela is the way she sits in the chair in front of the class. With her silver-rimmed glass with a prominent nose and at about 6ft, Sheela miss will be like a lost runway model who landed in the class. She always sits in the chair, cross-legged, with the book in her left hand and a scale in the right and takes the class. Most of the times she will be so absorbed in the lesson, it is difficult to discern whether she is taking the class for us or just enjoy reading the lesson.

I still remember the way she took O.Henry's 'The cop and the Anthem'. There is no one who could've beaten it. She went through the story with precision and brought out the irony of the ending sharply. She had a stylish way of teaching and taught grammar with the same fervor and any credit for my English today should go to her.

2. Ms. Mahalakshmi - Tamil

Or the terror of the 8th standard. I always had a love/hate relationship with her. While I loved the way she taught, I always thought she had a fascist streak in running the class and derived a sadistic satisfaction meting out punishments on a daily basis to about 90% of the class. Her daily pop quizzes took about 30 min of the 50min periods and the 30 min usually includes some pretty harsh punishments for those who couldn't answer. And I've been on the receiving end one too many times.

However, she was passionate about Tamil and teaching. If I can still write Tamil without grammatical errors, it is primarily due to her training. She encouraged me to get into elocution contests and usually will ask me to come over to her house and help write down the speeches. She had a love for the classical Tamil literature and used to take 'Silapathikaram' with a fervor unmatched. However, I don't remember her talking about the modern Tamil literature at all.

3. Ms. Banumathi - Maths

Banumathi miss was the principal of the school and she took the mathematics class as well. She used to be very methodical in approach and was very punctual to the class and will never waste time - chitchatting or talking anything other than Maths. She usually start writing on the board the moment she enters and will work through the book fast and efficiently.

I remember her Algebra classes which used to be different from the other chapters. May be because she liked them. She will sit on the desk and run through Algebra. I used to think of her as some sort of efficient automaton going about her work.

4. Ms. Dhanalakshmi (Physics) and Ms. Sumathy (Chemistry)

Both Dhanalakshmi and Sumathy miss took the science classes for about an year or so. And had a profound effect on me in that year. Not for the science classes though.

Both of them were very friendly and very likeable. The classes were nothing out of the ordinary, just running through the books. But Dhanalakshmi miss had an interesting way of narrating stories around the concepts. And that was interesting. Sumathy miss used to be the meek partner and it is very rare to see one without the other.

It was the year 'மீண்டும் ஜீனோ' was serialized in Vikatan and they used to bring the books and we use to have lively discussions. A lot of the Tamil authors, apart from Sujatha, got introduced. Balakumaran - with 'மெர்க்குரி பூக்கள்' and 'இரும்பு குதிரைகள்'  introduced a different world. Both of them were big time Balakumaran fans.

We used to meet on Saturday afternoons at Dhanalakshmi miss house and it used to be books, music and food. Discuss the new novels, play games etc. Never felt like she was a teacher at all. Unfortunately, both of them left the school the same year.

It was the year I almost fainted smelling ammonia in the lab trying to understand what 'pungent' actually meant. Sumathy miss used to advice not to try that with the acids trying to understand their acidity.

5. Ms. Ida Mercy (Biology)

I had a love/hate relationship with her. I was a pet because I studied well. She hated me because I was not focused enough in studies. She saw through my eternal character flaw. I remember her as someone very strict in class, dark - but a beauty, with thick brows joining in the center of the forehead. Always in a saree, clad tightly and perfectly.

She was a very serious teacher, unlike the other science teachers and don't remember talking anything else other than studies. She used to ask me to focus on studies and leave out all the other distractions. Sadly, that is an advice I never took up to follow.

6. Ms. Ramalakshmi - History

Rama miss is a very soft-spoken and at times, very frightened one. The only thing I remember about her is that we made her cry in the class once. She was in the front crying and we were all worried that we will get into so much trouble for that.

For some reason, I don't think we had any trouble over that. She must've been good enough not to report that.

7. Ms. Poongulali - Geography

So Poongulali miss was my nemesis in the school days. She probably hated me or just didn't care. She doubled as the school head mistress - capable of causing me immense distress and trouble and she sure did at every instance. And of course, I gave her a lot of opportunities to do so as well. Since, she made it a point not to be charmed and be a nuisance, I tried to behave well in her classes and just make sure to avoid her gaze at all times around the school.

Mom didn't help the whole thing by coming to school on a regular basis with a litany of complaints and give her enough ammunition to fire at me. It took me some time to convince mom that Poongulali has an absolute grudge against me and made her stop the complaints. But I do not think that helped.

Oddly, most of the teachers left the school for better jobs or something by the time I finished 8th standard. However, everyone of them played a huge role in how I shaped up to trouble more people in my later days.


Doss Gnanayuthem said...

Hi this is sheela teacher. its great u remember my full name.Sorry I couldn't recognise your identity. Thank u very much for acknowledging us,teachers .Still I'm in the same profession having 6 more years to retire Be blessed and happy.

Muthu Prakash Ravindran said...

Hello Ma'm

Actually shocked and happy to see the response. Thank you for your kind words.

Muthu Prakash R

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