by Debdoot Mukherjee
The oldest of the memories that I have about my school days are not chronologically set but are arranged in a manner that is similar to the arrangement of beads in a beautiful necklace. To think of and to point out a single one will do injustice to the others and the beautiful cornucopia of memories will break and scatter here and there. It was in school that we came across our teachers. It was here that we comprehend the depth in the word “teacher”. They are the great souls who come to our minds after (also sometimes before) our parents. In my childhood, they were my superheroes!
Teachers become an integral part of our lives in school and later in colleges and universities. To write about each one of my teachers would result in an effort to write a big and fat novel. However, what each one of them did was to contribute in their own way in our lives.
Teachers’ Day in India has been celebrated since the 1960s on the 5th of September every year to mark the birth date of the first Vice President of India and second President of India Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan who was born on the same date in 1888. He was also a professor, thinker, and philosopher. It is said that he wanted his birth date to be remembered as a day dedicated to the teachers. Guru Poornima, which precedes Teachers’ Day by little more than a month has its own significance when it comes to showing respect to one’s spiritual Guru who is the torchbearer in a student’s life.
The present state of the pandemic has seen schools and colleges being closed for more than a year now. Apart from the concern related to a person’s health in the world, the other matter of worry is definitely the education of students. The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown extraordinary challenges to teachers, of any level whatsoever; to cope up with the gap of communication that has been the result of this forced lockdown. A great and commendable part has been played by technology to showcase its strength in these trying times when students could not meet their teachers physically. For example, I have not seen a single student of UG first year in my college face to face. I simply know them as no more than a Facebook friend whom I have never met physically. The whole perspective of communication has taken a different course. Each day, a diligent teacher thinks of ways in which s/he can contribute to a student’s life in these difficult days of Covid Pandemic.
As 5th September 2021 nears, the memories of teachers’ day celebration in my school and also during my University days knock the doors of my mind again and again. The images of celebration push forth the days of laughter when we used to decorate classes with balloons, paper crafts, and others, buy gifts for our teachers by saving our pocket money, arrange for cakes and food packets for our teachers; the best part lay with the variety of programs that we arranged for them to make them feel special. Sometimes we also asked them to sing, recite and even dance for us. I will not forget to wish the very best to some of them even today!
Teachers’ Day has been different since the coming of the Corona Virus in 2019. In 2020, on the virtual platforms, we (the teachers and the students) pledged to come face to face very soon but that has not happened in 2021. The meeting, the celebration, the sharing of thoughts, and so on will mostly happen again on virtual platforms. Images of the past days of childhood, especially of the bright eyes of all my teachers looking at us with happy faces will give power to a teacher like me to move forward in the path of character building of students in the days to come.
About the Author
Debdoot Mukherjee presently teaches Literature in English in the Department of English, Bhangar Mahavidyalaya, University of Calcutta. He is also the Visiting Expert in English in the Department of Law, University of Calcutta, Visiting Expert in Inter-personal Skills at Gurukul Edutech, West Bengal, and a Counsellor at NSOU, Kolkata. A poet, writer, and researcher, he keeps on writing on various platforms aiming at wider feedback. The present article/composition is dedicated to all of his teachers who have inspired him to choose the path of a teacher.