Well, first of all, the visit count has officially crossed the 100,000 mark now (actually it did so a couple of months ago), and these days I routinely get more than 2000 visits a month, so now I can consider myself a serious blogger. Thanks to all who made it possible (even my detractors, because after all their visits too were counted!), and more so to all from whom congratulations have been pouring in.
Next, about the last post. It has now been visited almost 1000 times. So I guess a lot of people have now come to know what I feel about the whole subject, and the word will get around, especially to those whom I most want to know. Thanks again, to all who wrote encouraging and congratulatory comments. Consider, though, that 1000 visits have drawn only about 25 comments: and people get so angry when I publicly remark that most people who chatter all the time actually never have anything substantial to say on any substantive issue! Very interestingly, there has been not one foolish and rude and irrelevant comment yet, though I have been checking the trash bin daily.
A few acknowledgments are due. As several have pointed out with sympathetic understanding, it took a great deal of guts to make the decision (best proved by the fact that many of my frustrated ex-colleagues have fumed before their pupils that they too were of a mind to leave, but not one has done so in all these years!), and, what is more, it takes as much to carry on, year after year. Belonging to the Bengali middle class as I (alas!) do, I realize only too well the desperation to just somehow get a job – any job, however ill-paid and demeaning – as the one and only purpose of ‘education’, and how utterly unthinkable most salaried Bengalis find it even to consider quitting something easy and comfortable and secure: nothing has changed since the days when Bankimchandra and Vidyasagar, Tagore, Vivekananda and P. C. Roy poured scorn over this disgusting, spineless tribe; only their greed and vanity and prickly egos have swelled manifold. I reserve my sharpest invectives for people who, protected by company health insurance and life insurance and provident fund and gratuity schemes and leave travel allowances and cheap loans for buying houses and cars and schooling for their young, often having nearly 100 days of holidays a year, envy us self-employed people for making the money we do, and even grumble that we do not pay ‘enough’ taxes! And my greatest respect is reserved for those who stand on their own feet and make their own living, whether they are humble dhaaba owners or top flight surgeons and lawyers and tutors with private practices, and, it goes without saying, writers and musicians and those who try to make a living by making good movies…
At the same time – and I do hope my favourite readers will understand and admit it to themselves – there is also the reverse of the coin to be always kept in mind: there is the constant danger of being swept off one’s feet by the lure of easy money, especially when so many people are so keen to shove it into your hands, just so long as you say yes and take their child in. I have seen so many doctors and teachers first make a name for themselves and then turn into mere money-making machines, completely unconcerned about the deterioraring quality of their services… my greatest pride is when a current pupil meets with someone who studied with me ten or fifteen years ago, and compares notes, and they both discover that I still give unstintedly of myself in class as I did so many years ago, and because I can’t do it with too many at a time, so many people go away disappointed, even offended, utterly incapable of understanding why I said no. Believe me it’s hard, having to make myself disagreeable by refusing money, especially since I am not really rich in the sense of not having to work at all. And so I still fantasize about winning a lottery, and pray that God may sustain me in active mode a little longer. Nishant, that is the only sense in which I expect ‘results’ from my actions! Does that make sense?
Sreejith, that was a touching recollection. Makes me proud in retrospect, thinking that amidst that kind of stress I could bear up so well, calmly and with dignity, for that is the quality of character that I most admire, and find least often around me. Debarshi, frankly, I didn’t notice the coincidence about the date, but it’s intriguing, yes. Dipanwita and Arani, thanks for the kind words, but I mourn for the school, imagining the kind of people who will be celebrating its golden jubilee next year. Sayan and Rashmi, I hope you will always keep in mind that a true teacher must uphold high ideals, and practise what he preaches. It is that, rather than lack of capital or technology or organization or anything of that sort which is holding India back from realizing her full potential, and this has to be preached by millions of teachers at the grassroots, not the likes of APJ Abdul Kalam pontificating from the luxurious and exalted confines of Rashtrapati Bhavan!
Anand, my deepest regards to your aged relative: she had it exactly right. Don’t lose faith in yourself, and don’t forget God. Only, we ‘smarter’ young people think we have better ideas to live by, and some of us must take it upon ourselves to prove that the old way was the right way after all.
Sayantika, I wish you well. At least you have tried, and found out for yourself how hard it is to do something instead of merely talking about it And Arnab, ‘ferocity’ is a rather odd word to apply to a teacher. Did you mean that word, or something close but not quite the same?