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Monday, February 20, 2012

But the sun also rises

Since I ended the last post by saying I have always tried to be keenly sensible of whatever little goodness I have seen around me, let me recollect some nice and warm memories for my own satisfaction, and as a kind of public thanksgiving:

There have certainly been hundreds of parents who have not only spoken highly of me in their own circles, but insisted that their friends and relatives send their children to me in their turn: else I could not have been in gravy all these years, especially since I gave up my last job, and have never gone for advertising my services;

There have been old boys and girls who have cheered me up by giving me lovely cards and gifts (including their own paintings and touching thank-you letters) on my birthday, Teachers’ Day,  at the time of leaving and years afterwards;

There have been boys and girls who have carried around my photographs/messages in their wallets for years;

Ex-students and parents have turned up to say thanks years afterwards, for all sorts of successes which they felt they owed at least in part to me – from getting admission to some elite college to getting a good job;

There are people around who were decent enough to come over and offer to pay another month’s fee when the tuition was already over (in case they had made a mistake), and even offer to pay for the period when they were taught for free, because at that time the family had been going through financial difficulties;

There have been parents and students galore who have vocally acknowledged, to my face and behind my back, that I had contributed something to making them better, stronger, more self-confident people, more sure of their likes and dislikes, dreams and ambitions, more able to overcome what they could clearly perceive as their drawbacks after being under my influence for a while;

There have been many old boys who have expressed genuine delight about keeping in continuous touch with me, and about my dropping in to visit them now and then, and going travelling with them;

There are people around, now grown up and well-educated and doing responsible jobs, who have done me the high courtesy of saying they still regard me as a teacher on active duty;

There are current and ex-students who have furiously defended me when they have heard me being abused in public by foolish and coarse people both young and old;

When my daughter was born, eleven doctors came over to enquire after her well-being and her mother’s, to the vocal amazement of the nursing home staff;

When I was briefly hospitalized for surgery, scores of people of all ranks came over to see me within those two days and a half, though we had told nobody outside a tiny circle of friends…

I could go on for some time longer. What I have been trying to say is, the world is not entirely full of filth and baseness yet, and I never allow myself to forget that – not for long, that is.


Debarshi Saha said...

Respected Sir,

Warm regards.A very beautiful post indeed,Sir.Just like the stories of our life sound better and appealing with the presence of God in them,your life story sounds so nice with all of the people who touched your heart at various points of your life,Sir.This post is filled with renewed passion,heralds the promise of daybreak once more in this dark land,and most importantly,it celebrates humanity and reminds us all of the reason for being,and simply just not existing.In your inimitable style,Sir,you have conjured up a warm fireplace amidst the chill of the mind's bleak landscape-and thank you for allowing us to feel the warmth of the hearth in our hearts!May your fireplace keep burning bright,and may you find many more such persons in your life,Sir-this is all I wish for you.

Thank you for being in my life,Sir.You light up my face with a smile each time-thank you for making my story all the more beautiful.

With best wishes,

Abhishek Das said...

Dear Sir,
I attended your tuition in the year 2002. I also remember your last class in St. Xavier's where you gave a speech on a famous saying that " there is no free lunch." Now I am 25 and the more I grow, the more I realize the importance and the significance of this proverb. I also remember your abhorrence for "elite" people who lack basic humane qualities such as compassion, charity and philanthropy. I might have forgot the language classes which you had taught but your valuable advice and insistence on leading a purposeful life has remained etched in my mind .

Abhishek Das said...

Dear Sir,

It was a mere stroke of luck that one fine day I googled your name and subsequently I discovered your blog. I have read very few of your articles till now, not because I DID not have time but because all of them requires a certain degree of reflection and deep musing to understand and appreciate the content in them. I have also recommended the link to some of my "thoughtful, intelligent" friends who do not know you personally. However to my surprise, none of them bothered to reflect on these serious issues. Most of them lost interest after reading a few articles. However today I would like to ask you a question that has troubled me for so long.
Why is it that when I try to indulge in deep conversations on topics such as patriotism, ethics, sympathy, charity with educated people, they generally shrug off as if I had struck a discordant note. I remember a girl once told me that it was this instinct of mine that most girls found me boring and they nicknamed me as "Grandpaa".
As an adult citizen, I am aware of how much I owe to this society which has helped me to grow and nothing pains me more than my failed efforts to cause even an iota of change for the better. I would like to know your opinion about the root cause of this paradox where the zeal to change for the better seems to be fast vanishing.

JD said...

Sir - With your permission I would like to recall 2 phrases of yours, which have been etched in my mind & heart.

1. At the time of our farewell (2002 Batch) you wrote in my diary - "May the Xaviers' experience never dim in your mind & heart". I assure you that the experience has held me in good stead over the years, and I will not forsake it ever.

2. In the dressing room before a football game at St Michael's School - after we touched your feet for blessings, you said, "Bijoyi bhava". Well, I can't exactly describe in words, how it felt. However, your voice had a certain calmness & determination which egged us on to do well.

Well, in all these years I cherish those words from you, and am sincerely grateful for the same.

Another incident, which happened in Class 6, History Project Class, which you took was:

Once, you had asked us if we were interested in participating in a quiz. We naturally got excited and suggested that let the questions be from Sports domain. You agreed, though with a sound warning that sports did not comprise of cricket only! You would have seen the faces of all of us... from plump with excitement to deflated like pricked balloons!

At a age of 12/13 we hardly had any knowledge of any sports outside cricket (though knowledge on cricket would also have been insignificant)!
Anyways, whenever I recall the incident, it brings out a smile. I still vizualize the change in the faces of mine & my colleagues!

Well, I did not get the chance to be taught by you, and I rue it. Nonetheless, whatever little interaction that we've had, I always had and will have the highest regard for you.

My best & sincere wishes for many more good experiences in the life ahead.

Shilpi said...

Hi Suvro da,

Read and re-read this post as it suddenly and unexpectedly popped up some time last night, and I was smiling slowly with the post, and have had some of the quiet images fluttering around in my mind. It somehow reminded me a bit of the short post you'd put up in 2007 under 'Happy Memories'. I'd been half-wondering myself about those last some liners that you'd ended off with, about goodness and treasuring the same, so I'm glad you put up this one. All I'll say for now is that through these many years, and as I become middle-aged myself, I haven't come across anybody else - in life or in fiction - who so keenly feels and closely cherishes the spots of goodness, and that's reading, realizing, knowing, and seeing all that you do and have...Makes me wonder all this, it does.

Not to write a long-winded comment here. Thank you for writing this one. Nice title, too.

Tanmoy said...

Dear Suvroda

Thank you for writing this post. It brought a smile to my face. Back in the days, when my father was transferred to Durgapur and we moved, I was disappointed. More than disliking Durgapur, I missed Calcutta. I did not like school either, till after 2 years you became my teacher. You taught me for the next two years in class and became a teacher for a lifetime.

I left Durgapur soon after finishing class ten – the best years of my school life. Over time, we have interacted first via the “blue inland letter cards” and then subsequently after a long pause through emails. I miss meeting you. We could not meet, largely due to circumstances, than due to my intention. It is my loss completely. Can’t believe it is nearly 18 long years that we have met.

The comment box is too small, for me to express my gratitude. With every passing day, I realise it much more. I wish you good health and happiness Suvroda.



Sayan Datta said...

Dear Suvro Sir,
I admire your ability to see the good in this grim, harsh and unforgiving world. It is a great virtue and perhaps the hardest to practice...makes me wonder how you do it so naturally.
Tanmoy da is right. Those who do not keep in touch, do so more out of laziness than anything else and lose out on an experience of a lifetime. I apologize for going off the radar time and again. I will be more consistent from now on.
Sayan Datta

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Seven comments in a single day - that's nice!

Dipanwita Shome said...

This is a beautiful post. And has a beautiful name. Helps me tide over my own not-so-easy times. I hope you have many more suns shine on you.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I find it remarkable that all those who write in (as a rule anonymously, the cartoon cowards!) only to bad-mouth me are absolutely silent when I write nice things about good people. I am sure they find it very uncomfortable to think that theirs is not the only kind who inhabit this world...

sayantika said...

Dear Sir,

After reading the the last post, this one comes as the warm, crimson glow of the twilight after a thunderstorm of dark clouds and showers.
I remember the first day at your tuition. I was quite apprehensive at first since unlike others in my batch, I had joined late and hence, missed the spelling test. I had also heard many rumours about you before going to the tuition and I was even advised by a person to learn only English in your class and nothing else. But soon, I started enjoying the class, as you made studies fun with jokes, quizzes,narrating Julius Caesar in a way so familiar yet amazing that every line remained stuck in my mind. Never before had a class been so full of worth and enjoyment. I was very sceptical about teachers and often left tuitions within a month because I felt the classes weren't of any good. Ma had a tough time finding me tutors and after your first class, I came home and told Ma how wonderful it was and she had heaved a sigh of relief. You taught us that studies weren't something that was to be forced upon, we could even enjoy studying. This was something I had experienced till Class 6, but once tuitions started, studies became a bore. I have often feigned illness to avoid going to tuitions, but I went to your classes even when I was really ill. Later, after kindling our interest in studies, you had explained how subjects that were generally labelled as 'uncool' by our tribe such as history and civics were very important for a good education. Before elaborating on the Directive Principles of State Policy, you had asked the class, "How would you decide whom to vote when, after three years, you are old enough to do it?" I was secretly fond of literature and history before attending your classes, but I had never voiced it because I too, followed the herd thinking it wasn't cool enough.
I always said that my favourite subject was physics despite hardly understanding it, because it was rather trendy. And this is where your most important lesson came in handy. You taught me to think for myself, voice my opinions and not to follow the herd. After the classes were over, I wasn't a spineless creature any more. I am grateful to you for making me a better human being, and also for making me learn good English from the elementary stuff (like, each and every is wrong) to Shakespeare and introducing me to good books.
I wish more of my batchmates would comment in your blog, though I know that one of them does read your blog and has the deepest respects for you.
It pains me a lot when I hear people maligning you and sometimes, they are people who don't even know you personally and often, they don't have any evidence or reason for bad-mouthing you. I have tried arguing reasonably and also protesting vehemently with them, but it annoys me when I fail to convince them that Sir doesn't 'provoke' or 'brainwash' students, but rather asks us to think and reflect more on ourselves.

Thanks and with regards,

Saikat Chakraborty said...

Dear Sir,

Many thanks for such a nice post. You have touched my life in so many different ways; I am at a loss of words about how to express my gratitude. If you weren't there, I would never have known the meaning of a great movie or learnt to appreciate a good book or an essay. You have taught me to have faith in my beliefs and decisions, even when its against the herd-mentality.

Maybe I had done something really good in my last life to have you as a teacher in this life. Sir, I pray that God always keeps you in good health and good spirits.

With warm regards,

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Abhishek, a belated thank you for commenting. It is always delightful to find old boys getting back in touch again: that is the main purpose with which I write this blog.

I share your chagrin over the fact that most people today (and I won't blame only the young) are living in the superficial, distracted, aimless mode, and so they neither can, nor want to read and reflect upon serious issues of any sort. No matter, there are still people like us around, and we must get together and sustain our own kinds of communities, if only via the internet. And don't worry too much about changing the world for the better. Most of us are small people; the best we can do is to live our own lives by our own principles, and hope that a few people will be inspired to follow.

Sayan, Dipanwita, Sayantika and Saikat, many thanks. Don't fret over the silly and mean and jealous people who speak ill about me: words of appreciation from the likes of you wash away all that kind of spam. God has given me much more than He has hurt me...

Debarati said...

Dear Sir,
This post reminds me of an Albert Schweitzer quotation:"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." I cannot think of anyone but you whenever I come across this quotation. But quite apart from everything (poetry, stories, fun, and most importantly the lessons on life) else the grammar lessons, whenever I am thinking of those(which I do pretty frequently), shame me in the middle of a class or even in the middle of a busy road into looking things up in dictionaries and grammar books. It then seems as though a minute's delay will condemn me into eternal shame and guilt. And this is real unnerving. But it's good in a way. And when in college, I can't help sniggering at the professors at times. They still 'take' examinations and don't give those. For them students still 'pass out of' of college, not to mention several others. And these are the people who teach us without qualms Shakespeare, Frost and the likes of these men! Once you said that exaggerating facts unnecessarily is a bad habit and that it speaks only of the speaker's bad taste and shallowness. And everyday someone or the other justifies this. But more than a snigger it draws a smile(not all people are or have been fortunate enough to have teachers like you). Quite surprisingly, in college, there is not a single person who can teach us Shaw or the essential Shaw. I can never think of Professor Higgins without thinking of you or the cadences in your voice(that is because you acted out his part and also because you resemble him in some parts). And maybe that's the reason why I can't stand the very idea of somebody else teaching us Shaw.

With best wishes,

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Is that Debarati Chowdhury? I am guessing, but do mention your surname in future, at least: I know so many with the same name!

You have been kind enough to give me the highest praise any teacher can hope for, saying that you don't want to study something in particular with any other teacher. Thank you very much indeed. It's a very nice feeling to be told that all the effort I put into my classes is not wasted on idle, stupid, uninterested and ungrateful note takers. It has been my great misfortune to have had to handle too many of that kind...

Debarati said...

Oh yes, sir. And many thanks for the acknowledgement.

Suvro Chatterjee said...


I read but did not post your comment because 1) you haven't given your full name and email i.d., and I have taught so many with the same name, and can't remember anyone who made any deep impression on me; 2) your comment is utterly confused and contradictory - you start off by saying very nice things, and end up by seemingly abusing me, heaven knows why (since I can't remember doing the slightest harm to anyone called Moumita!), and 3) your comment is basically irrelevant to the post, where I only thanked a lot of people for having been kind and good to me. Why should you mind my saying thank you, even if I am not saying it to you?

As you can see from all the above comments, most people don't feel the way you do. Still, if you have any issues that need sorting out, I shall be glad to talk to you, face to face if you like, or by email. The i.d. is suvro.chatterjee@gmail.com


Suvro Chatterjee said...

I wrote this post to give public thanks for all the kindness and consideration I have received from countless people over all these years. The last comment I wrote here had a different tone, I know, because it was meant to brush off exactly the kind of comment that does not fit in at all - the kind of comment that such people send who never read or understand a word of what I write, and just want to let me know (without coming out into the open) that they hate me, and nothing I say or do will ever change their minds, which have closed forever. That should not deter people of a more decent and liberal sort from writing in. I do NOT despise the whole world merely because there are some despicable people in it! I know sensible and decent folks are numerous - otherwise, despite the strenuous efforts of some people to malign me for so long, my tuitions could not have been overflowing, as they are right now: I have lost count of how many I have had to turn away.