Today was the last day of my assignment - an assignment of six weeks that had taken only one hour per day, an assignment I had taken up without quite knowing how I had managed to land it. I had agreed to teach English (Language and Literature) to the students of Std. IX, at a neigbourhood school. The previous teacher had had to leave and they were looking for a replacement. A friend had recommended me, and when the Principal called and asked me, I somehow found myself accepting, on condition that I would be relieved by July 15, since I had some family commitments after that.
Twenty years earlier, I would have welcomed a job like this enthusiastically, but right now, no schoolboy could have wended his way slower to school than me. A life of retirement, working at my own pace at my housewifely duties, or not working at all, had spoilt me, and I felt no desire to throw myself into the routine of a harried housewife who has to go to work.
The Principal enticed me pointing out that there were only ten students, and supported me by arranging for the classes to be held in a spare room on the ground floor, instead of the second floor room, out of consideration for my creaking joints and grey hair.
And so I started and it was interesting to be in touch again with the writers and poets whose works (I had been an English Literature student at college) formed part of the syllabus. I found I enjoyed teaching the youngsters, and interacting with them. They were intelligent, attentive, and eager to learn. But I wondered if they were happy with my methods, and getting the right learning from me - my teaching experience was dated, more than 40 years ago! After all they are going to write the Board exams next year.
Today they set my fears to rest. They knew this was my last class. They presented me a ‘Thank You’ card made on an A4 sheet, and signed with all their names. “We want you to come back,” said one of them. “We like the way you teach,” said another, and when they all chorused “Yes” to that, I was touched.
When I took leave of the Principal, she said that the children had told her they did not want me to leave. I felt that I must have done something right.