Guest column | Here’s to teachers, the master craftsmen who shape us
One day, I felt someone gently scoop me up from the dormitory floor and gently place me on the bed. I opened my eyes to find that it was none other than our headmistress, GB Malkani, who had found me lying on the cold floor during her nightly rounds.
It was a cold day in January 1974 when my parents and I entered the portals of Punjab Public School, Nabha, where I was to be enrolled. At first, the hostel life, removed from the comfort of home, seemed to be pretty daunting for a diminutive child of eight.
Not used to the low-height beds, I would often find myself sprawled on the floor every night for the first few days. One day, I felt someone gently scoop me up from the dormitory floor and gently place me on the bed. I opened my eyes to find that it was none other than our headmistress, GB Malkani, who had found me lying on the cold floor during her nightly rounds.
At mealtime, our headmistress would go around the dining hall to ensure that all tiny tots in junior school were partaking food to their hearts’ contents. It was only after all youngsters had had their food would she have her meal. For us Miss Malkani was a Mother Teresa-like figure and we were all baptised into the regimented style of living under her loving care. We would rise with a ‘morning rouser’ at first light and go to bed at ‘lights out’ at 2200 hours (10 pm). Before we knew it, Punjab Public School (PPS), Nabha, became our second home.
PPS Nabha became a second home for all of us.The more I see all the Swot shops, which have sprouted throughout the length and breadth of our country, the more I fondly miss my teachers and housemasters at PPS Nabha. KK Katyal, the housemaster of my house, Ravi, ensured that we follow the everyday regimen of washing our personal clothes, including handkerchiefs and socks. He used to physically check them till such time that it became our second nature. This habit held us in good stead throughout our lives. I vividly recall how he invited all of us to his residence on the first day of our Class 10 board examination (ICSE). He had organised a small prayer with his wife treating us with a bowl of curd and special ‘halwa’ as ‘prasad’ giving us a homely feeling.
The teachers of yore were so personally involved in each student’s life. They did everything possible, for each one of us, to ensure that we did not miss our homes. Such was our bonding that all the housemasters would have meals with students. The teachers would hold our hands and teach us the correct use of knives and forks.
The presentations made by our principal, Group Captain AJS Grewal, on his adventurous exploits of climbing Mount Everest were always a treat. Till today, we fondly recall the anecdotes our Bursar, whom we referred to as Mr Punia. He was an expert raconteur and laid bare unforgettable life lessons.
We were taken to temples and gurdwaras on Janamashtami and Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti, which imbibed in us a spirit of secularism. Armed with basic survival techniques, skills and etiquettes of hostel life, the transition from PPS to the National Defence Academy was a cake walk. When it comes to personal interactions, the two-year-old Covid juggernaut has posed a conundrum for our children. Though our children may have become tech-savvy by operating online we must encourage them to interact with their friends more to recompense for what they missed out during this ruthless pandemic. Let them derive pleasure by gossiping and playing pranks with friend.We should laugh with them a little more instead of merely focusing on their report cards.
Here’s to teachers who shaped us into the individuals we are.
(The author is a Patiala-based freelance writer)