Mrs Rani Chandran, perhaps the best teacher I've ever had passed away last week. She was killed in a tragic road accident.
If I'm able to cobble my words together today and then twist the sentences into something interesting, I owe it all to her. She was the first person to really encourage my writing. Sure, I dont have any complaints against my other English teachers but I always worked extra hard to please Mrs RC. Her compliments made me feel on top of the world.
It’s a pity but our first impressions of each other left much to be desired. My english teacher in the 7th standard got frustrated with my stubborn refusal to do english homework and sent me off to meet Mrs RC who was the head of the english department. I'd never spoken to her before but I strode jauntily into the staff room fully confident of myself. No way was some pavum English teacher going to convince me to do homework. A lot of my confidence stemmed from the fact that my mom was also a teacher in my school. I was a lot more casual towards my teachers than the rest of the kids.
RC tore me apart.
I walked in expecting special treatment. I was after all a teacher's son. I knew my teachers personally and expected a couple of gentle rebukes before being let off the hook. Instead I was ripped to pieces.
She examined my class notes and my homework for the year, the grand total of which came to exactly two sheets. Then she got angry, very very angry. Who the hell did I think I was anyway? What kind of handwriting was this? Was I too good to take notes and do my homework? The lashing went on and on. I lost all track of time, space and motion.
I came out the staff room, knees shaking, heart palpitating and ears bleeding. I spent the next couple of night’s frantically compiling class notes and homework. My mother was thoroughly ashamed and gave me hell at home. It was a very trying week.
I lived in complete fear of RC for the next couple years. Then when I came to the 9th standard, she handled Shakespeare...and it was amazing. She was one of those few people who could really lift the level of your thinking. If you answered her questions correctly, you would feel so damn smart.
I still remember the first time I 'acted' on stage. It was a skit on road safety. Another english teacher was directing the play and after having paid special attention to my excellent theatrical skills and the wide range of emotions I could display, she made me part of the road. Yep, I had to wear black and lie down on the floor with some other unfortunate kids while more acomplished actors walked all over us. I felt pretty lousy about it until RC took over. She made every kid feel like he or she was vital to the success of the play. It didnt matter what role you played. Suddenly I was incredibly happy to lie down while other kids stepped on my face. I was PROUD to be part of the road
I got to know her very well over the next couple of years. I played more prominent roles in the plays she directed, took part in debates and edited the school newsletter that she was in charge of. When it came to extra-curricular activities, the last couple of years in school were the best.
I'll always remember RC as no nonsense woman who would encourage you when you were down and put you in your place when you got too cocky. She spoke the Queen’s English and carried herself with such dignity; you couldn’t help but be in awe of her. Now THAT was a TEACHER.