Our day-to-day life is always teeming with rules — traffic rules, queues at banks, passport offices, ticket and registration counters, and even in temples, airports. Likewise, at movie theatres, food courts, supermarkets, almost any place you can think of.
If you are a teacher, it is even trickier. On the one hand you have to follow a set of rules and on the other, you have to ensure that your students don’t break the rules you set for them.
After all, you have the onerous task of setting an example for the children, who look up to you for everything. I have worked in different schools, under different principals, schools in-charge and administrative officers through the course of my 36-year career. Understandably so, latecoming was one of the chief concerns of the management in every school.
On the dot
If one reached school after the first period, it was considered a half day. At times, a “mass-late coming” for reasons like derailment of trains or something similar, was permissible to an extent. One day, because of a major train delay, many teachers reached school late.
Since it was mandatory to meet the school-in charge before going to class, we entered his room to offer an explanation. He reprimanded us, “How you get here — flying, walking or running, is not my problem. I am not concerned with that. I just want every teacher to report on time.”
Not my problem
The point he was trying to make was, that when others who travelled by bus could report to work on time, then why not everyone. Fortunately, we had to work with him for only two years. After that, he was transferred to another school.
The School Administrative Officer, under whom I worked for the maximum period was more concerned, despite being a stickler for perfection. For me, not being able to wake up on time and catch the 6.20 am train, because of a failed alarm clock, was one of the main reasons for reporting latec. I would always give the excuse that I wasn’t well.
So, it was important that I looked really sick. I would wear a dull sari and no make-up to fake the look. I did feel guilty about lying, but I consoled myself with the thought that it was a ‘white lie’. Looking at my dull face and hearing my feeble voice (I used to lower my voice even more on such occasions), he would be concerned and ask, “Why did you come today? You could have rested for two more days. We would have managed your class.”
I would then heave a sigh of relief. Since I was hardworking and sincere, the Principal was happy with my performance. He had a soft corner, hence he understood my problems. But even today when I think about how often I lied to him, I do have guilt pangs.