I deliberately started this day with posting a happy post, because the fact is that I have been living in agony over the last couple of weeks: red hot skewers driven through my innards couldn't have hurt any more - and this is NOT meant for dramatic effect; I have been operated upon without anesthesia.
One of my oldest and most beloved ex-students has let me know just how trivial our relationship always was. He will deny it vehemently, and shout from the rooftops that it's all my fault, I have completely and deliberately misunderstood him and his 'pure' and 'loving' and 'respectful' intentions. If he had just told me to 'f*** off' and get the hell out of his life, he would have been far more honest and no more hurtful. Four months have made him forget two decades, or rather, he has declared unequivocally that if he has to choose between what happened in those four months and what happened over the previous 19 years, he is prepared to forget the 19 years (when nobody even asked him to choose!). Oh, of course, if pushed to the wall, he will exercise all the casuistry at his command to try and convince me and everybody else that this is all an old man's delirium: I have taken umbrage over nothing at all, and it is he who has been really hurt, not me. It has taught me once and for all never to imagine that I have got to know someone well, and that when people say they love and respect you, they usually don't even believe themselves, so I should be all sorts of a fool if I believed them for a minute.
What I have decided to do, after this most distressing episode in my life, is to make up my mind, once and for all, that no pupil will ever be allowed to matter in my life again. They will come, take notes, pay their fees, never to be given a part of my heart, and to be instantly forgotten the moment they leave. There is a limit to how much undeserved pain a man must endure, and I have most certainly reached the end of my tether.
And if my daughter ever becomes a teacher for her sins, I shall ask her to remember that her daddy warned her never to make the mistake of thinking that teachers really matter. Parents yes, spouses yes, children yes, maybe bosses and colleagues and neighbours even, but teachers, NEVER. She must do her work with all the honesty and sincerity at her command, but never forget that she is just doing it for a living, and she must never expect anything but fees from her students. It has taken me all of 27 years to realise that that is the only way a teacher can keep his sanity as well as humanity: I don't want my daughter to suffer like that. I won't wish what I am going through on my worst enemy.
I know now why my beloved Father Gilson did not pay the slightest heed to the boys upto class nine, taught magically the boys of class ten, and forgot them as soon as they passed ICSE. Wisdom does indeed come with nothing other than age, and painful experience. I made a terrible mistake to think that ex-students should be allowed to matter. Well, it won't happen again. I am a slow learner, but I learn my lessons well.