Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mrs Balbir Singh……………… My beloved teacher!!!!

13th October 2011, 1.00 AM, Mumbai.

I log-in on facebook after completing a write-up which I had kept in abeyance for lack of inspiration.  However I am satisfied with the way the write-up has shaped up.  With this mind set I log-in on FB; a post shared by my  Sheila Sen teacher whom I admire for being so techno savvy and a regular on facebook catches my attention. 

I start reading the post till I reach the concluding lines; the feeling of satisfaction changes to a sense of loss.  It sinks into me that our beloved Singh teacher (that’s the way we always referred to her) is no more after reading the post for a second time.

Though our Singh teacher was one with very few words; my association with her was special. I would like to credit her for bringing me back on track when I was losing my way as a student at a very tender age.  I decide the only way to express my gratitude to my “Singh teacher” is by dedicating a blog to her. 

Atleast in this is way; I can give a hollow consolation to myself that I have acknowledged her. “Hollow consolation” because I could have been there to see her……. but we all take life for granted and so did I!!  I read an update on facebook a few days ago that Singh teacher was not keeping well… but I took it for granted that it was not serious and she would definitely be ok!……..feeling guilty, I ignore the sleep which is trying to take over me….. I don't realise I have furiously started tapping on the keyboard of my laptop commencing my dedication to my “Singh Teacher”!!

I silently observed her for a better part of my schooling days with a sense of awe ; though I admit that most of the teachers were always at the taking end of my pranks but never Singh teacher.  Thinking and retrospectively reflecting back in time I realise that it was only because of her dignified and matured way of handling rogues like us that we were never able to get the better of her.  She never acknowledged our behaviour and seldom raised her voice in frustration denying us the pleasure of irritating her.  In due course of time we resigned to the fact that it was a waste of our effort trying to trouble her.  She followed the principle of “kill by ignorance”.

I clearly remember my first interaction with her  was when I was in the sixth class.  I still remember her she looked so majestic; the most striking and beautiful aspect of her personality was her ever so long, delicate and beautiful nose.  She always looked so fresh as morning dew in her crisply ironed sarees which were invariably in lighter shades of whites and blues.  She was not very tall but her imposing presence was felt by everyone.  She was an epitome of sophistication and class.  Her immaculate command over the language English not withstanding; fully justified the subject she taught.

Though I was very mischievous; unlike other teachers she had  never given up on me.  She always treated me on par with the other studious guys and ignored that I had not done my home work or I was not paying attention in the class. She would quietly remind me of the consequences of not being sincere…..the exam results ultimately showed ………. I had fared very badly in the half yearly terminal exams.  The results came as a rude shock to my parents who rushed to meet Singh teacher to take stock of the situation.  Singh teacher preferred to conduct the meeting without me and that was the only time I had been sent  out of the class room unlike other teachers who always wanted me out because I was a disrupting force.   I do not know till date what transpired in the meeting but my parents were unusually quiet especially my mom; who in other circumstances would not have spared the rod.

The next day after school I was off to Singh teacher’s house with my mother….. She had told my dad and mom to send me to her house for studying whenever possible after school hours. She even assured them that I had it in me to do well.  Thus started my brief but very happy association with Singh teacher. As and when possible I reluctantly started going to Singh teacher’s house.  This continued for the remaining part of the academic year. Something that started as a reluctant chore changed very soon and I started enjoyed the attention she bestowed upon me.  It was special to hear the encouraging words even when she admonished me for being careless…. for having a bad hand writing and not putting any effort to improve it. 

Gradually I got acquainted with her family.  Mr Singh was occasionally there but I was too scared to speak to him……!! Initially I was surprised to know that Singh teacher had four daughters  Preeti-Didi, Geeta-Didi, Simran (Simu Didi) and the youngest daughter Nikku was too small.  I have referred to her by her nick name “ Nikku” because  I still dont know her first name.  I had  always thought that Singh Teacher could be nothing more than a teacher but close interaction with her showed me that she had an very affectionate side as well.

I want to make a special mention here of  Simu Didi; who was a Tomboy in the real sense!  She could put boys to shame with her cricketing skills.  We all waited for the study time to get over so that we could play cricket in the colony compound.  It was a wonderful period for me and I had never enjoyed studying more than this.

Like all good things have to come to an end the academic year also came to an end with me passing with respectable grades; though I continued to visit Singh teacher’s house on the pretext of playing cricket with Simu didi and gang which of-course was an inspiration but more than that I think I wanted to meet Singh teacher everyday because I knew she genuinely cared for her students.

As I conclude this write up on one of my favourite teachers I would like to thank and acknowledge her for everything I am today. Even these blogs I write are by virtue of what I have acquired from Singh teacher;  I am sure if she were to read this she would have found ‘n’ number of mistakes.   One very special aspect which I would like to throw light on is that she believed that I was good enough when most of the people had written me off.  I have not met my teacher since the time I left school some three decades ago but I know she would have been glad to know that I am an engineer today with post graduation in business administration more than that she would have been more happy that both my English and handwriting have improved.

I think though its a wee bit late to thank and acknowledge her; I must do it as I hear the birds chirping indicating its early morning, I read a text message sent by my classmate which is so appropriate in the context and  is quoted below.

“We all meet so many people in the course of our life but wherever we go we take a little bit of every one in us"!! 

This message is so relevant in the context and I realise it is Singh teacher’s way of consoling me even today that she is a part of me though I would like to contradict the above quote and say that she is a part of me in a big way!!

Written by:  Jagdish S Kolur


  1. Your writing took me back to my schooling days and tried to find who was my best teacher and their faces started revolving in front of my eyes. COmmand on any language is not a problem if you are able to express your thoughts. I am not even near you in writing and speaaking english, but manage to communicate. Handwriting, it depends on how you started in primary class. In fact handwriting of my father and my eldest sister was also very good and I tried to improve by copyiong their style and later developed my own style. I still remember one of my hindi teacher, forgot his name, he use to always good and very good for my handwriting and that continued till engineering college, where I use to get A and A+ for my drawing and term work. I still remember Joshi Sir for encouraging me for good drawing.

    Subhash Chandra

  2. It was heartening to read your tribute to our mother. She touched and added value to all our lives and we are grateful to you for taking time off to acknowledge her contribution. This part of her life was very dear to her and she would have felt touched and fulfilled had she known how you have done in life. You also brought back to us memories of our growing up years and we feel a close bond with all of you who understood our mother and value and remember her for what she was.

    Thank you.

    Preeti, Geeta, Simi, Nikku

  3. Dear Didis x 3 + Nikku,

    Actually this whole incident has brought one thing to the fore i.e it is important to be there when it matters and I realised it more than anybody. If you do not act then you will be left with only regrets.... but your comments have kindof giving me a consolation and little peace of mind. thanks for correspondng