He was our Biology Teacher at school. As a teacher he was okay. Not so great that he would evoke a love for the subject in you, but not at all bad. He was, as I said, okay.
But it is something else about his personality that will make me remember him forever. I do not think of the environment of our residential school as one driven by logic, clarity of thoughts and rationality, in general. But people like him were a relief in that environment. When I think back of those days now, I respect him even more for maintaining in clarity of thoughts in an environment, which wasn’t quite conducive to it.
This incident had happened in another class. That class was two years seniors to us. So, I didn’t see it happen. But it was narrated to me by someone who was in the class.
Despite a lot of things I remember with distaste about the place, the student-teacher relationships were very close. Probably due to the fully residential nature of the school. So, it wasn’t uncommon to see various topics come up for discussion in the class, which may be totally unrelated to what was supposed to be taught. One day there happened to be a discussion in the class about gender bias. Our teacher was vehemently opposed to any gender discrimination. He had two daughters and was clear that he didn’t want more children just to have a son. Funnily enough, the support for gender bias came from few of students in the class, mostly boys. One of them argued that people want to have a son because लड़के नाम और वंश चलाते हैं। The conversation went like following from there. Our teacher asked the guy for his name. He replied. Then he asked for his father’s and grandfather’s name. The student replied. Then he asked for his grandfather’s father’s and grandfather’s name. The student had no idea.
“किसका वंश चला रहे हैं आप?” is what he asked. Of course, the students did not have an answer.
He did not stop there. He asked those students to raise hands, who knew the name of King Ashoka. All the hands went up. Then he asked those students to raise hands, who knew the name of King Ashoka’s son. Nobody knew or remembered. He did not have to go to the extent of asking as to who is King Ashoka’s descendant today 🙂 “उनका नाम अब तक चल रहा है। कौन चला रहा है?” was what he asked then.
Don’t think it needs further explanation. I salute his clarity of thought and the way he managed to explain himself to a bunch of young but overconfident students.