If it wasn’t for the remarkable teachers who elevated our lives and circumstances, things may not have been the same

For those like me who were born during the first Five Year Plan, and those who were born later, there’s a huge chasm in terms of education. We didn’t have the facilities that people of contemporary world do. Apart from humankind, the world of animals and plants were our learning centres. The environment was filled with a teacher’s desire to teach, as well as a student’s enthusiasm to learn. Our childhood was such a happy one – we spent some time at home and school and most of our time in the world outside, filled with creative impulses. Stories and songs emanated from every hutment. It’s impossible to free myself from the memories of my father who read and made us read the most wonderful pieces of literature.

The primary and middle schools that we went to were dearer to us than our mother’s lap. In those days, there was no school that didn’t have a huge playground. Physical training teachers, craft teachers, gardening teachers – we had so many of them, and were such an important part of our lives. Devaramani Kariyappa master always began his lessons with a story, Nageshappa master always waited for an opportunity to tell us interesting things, and it’s impossible to forget Revanna and Chandrashekarappa. Our Kannada teacher Jamboori Chandrashekarappa would loose track of time teaching us Muddanna Manorameyara Sallaapa. He was a great teacher plus an artiste, musician, actor and a fine orator; with his many faceted personality, he would leave us mesmerised.

This committed teacher was a modest student himself; he was constantly reading and updating himself. Like a loving mother, he would take us home and feed us. He would read from the weekly Prapancha, he chose poems for us to read, and would set us off to the Panchayat office so that we listened to the regional news from the public radio kept there.

Come exams, and he would make sure that we woke up early to study – ‘Drink lots of water before you sleep, it works better than an alarm clock,’ he would say. This loving teacher would disguise himself and come on rounds at the crack of dawn to check if were up to study.

The day he retired, this unforgettable teacher of mine, wrote a long letter to me, and as he was dropping it into the post box, collapsed and breathed his last.

Thanks to his painstaking efforts I cleared my seventh standard exams with a first class, which had seemed as daunting as crossing the Pacific Ocean.

A story writer was taking birth in me by the time I landed in high school. This, I am sure was the result of the all the teachers who had struck the chord of imagination within us. I went to a different school for my higher secondary classes with a lot of apprehension, but I met such wonderful teachers who moulded us with such care. The teachers who made a lasting impression on me were Sanskrit teacher Nagabhooshana Sharma and Kannada pandit Chandrashekaraih. Even today, when I read our great poets like Harihara, Pampa, Ranna, Raghavanka and Kumaravyasa, I hear my Kannada teacher’s voice within me. These teachers inspired me to become a primary school teacher, and as a tribute to these remarkable human beings who shaped my life, I too held the hands of many a downtrodden.

The writer is an accomplished Kannada novelist and short story writer.

(Translated by Deepa Ganesh)