Thank you, Sir

This is a letter of gratitude to Sir from X (Ankini Banerjee) where she talks about how the experience of the last 9 months offered by Sir culminated into a great positive change in her personality and a phenomenal result. 

To the greatest teacher there could ever be —

I don’t think I can ever forget that dreaded text message we all received from the school just two weeks before the critical exams, saying that all classes had been cancelled for the remaining days. It was as if lightning had struck. Our preparation wasn’t even close to the finishing line — we hadn’t even begun our English and History writing classes, and a bulk of Physics C: Mechanics was untouched. It felt so cruel back then. I remember thinking, ‘How could Sir just cancel all classes on a whim? Doesn’t he care about our results?’ But, as I later realised, this incident was a live demonstration of how cruelty and benevolence are but shades of the same colour.

When we all came to school a few days later for an Economics mock test, I was scared. Ever since we had first gotten a severe scolding from you back in 2014, I have always had a subconscious fear of coming to school. Different people have different reactions to harsh criticism, and mine, though not intentional, was awfully wrong. I had gradually forgotten to see you as someone who cares about us and wishes the best for us, as the teacher we all loved. In my anxious mind, you had become a strict, authoritative figure who was to be feared.

That day too, I was terrified. I almost expected you to lash out at us for not having a sincere attitude towards work. But what happened instead was completely unexpected. You didn’t have the slightest hint of anger on your face, not even a look of irritation. There was only an expression of pure disappointment. When we approached you, you even spoke to us, but in your voice was that same coldness, as if you had finally given up on us. If you wished, you could have scolded us again, and we probably would have been forced to work, simply because we were afraid of you. But I am grateful you didn’t, because it made me realise that you weren’t some stern, frightening person, waiting to scold us at every possible opportunity. You have feelings too, and obviously you would be disappointed if we, who have seen your struggle up close, became a hindrance rather than your support in your battle to create the perfect school. Your reaction made me regret all those times when we had disappointed you, and I, instead of trying of empathise with you, had just feared your wrath, and fallen sick repeatedly and missed school. But I think after that day, I have gradually learnt to control my irrational fear of you.

I am certain you could have made us achieve these fantastic scores even if you had just continued to take our classes for the last few days, but then we would have remained a bunch of immature, irresponsible kids. With our lax attitude, not only would success have eluded us, we also wouldn’t have been able to bring about any positive change in the world.

The entire of the previous 6–9 months have been intense, but I believe that the last few days have been the most enlightening and transformative. As we gradually learnt to cooperate with you, we realised that enjoyment could be derived from work itself. Towards the beginning of our intense preparation, I often felt indignant towards you for putting us under so much pressure. I would think ‘Why can’t we have a little bit of fun?’ But honestly, coming to school every evening to practice Literature papers with you was fun. Writing AP English essays together everyday and then reading your perfect answer was fun. Of course, it was not the kind of frivolous fun that we had always created for ourselves. It was a fun that was accompanied by hard work and satisfaction. You have always made our school time pleasurable through interesting discussions, movies, and books, but who would have thought an intense exam preparation could be made enjoyable as well?

We all know that there is only a single person on Earth who could teach Physics, Literature, Economics, Chemistry to such a high level yet so simply. But what makes you the greatest teacher is the fact that you taught us to dream, and aim high. All 5s in APs, and perfect scores in SAT subject tests would have really remained a joke to all of us had you not shown us that it was achievable. We often rank each other according to academic performance, calling some students “better” and others comparatively “weaker”. But I don’t think such a ranking should even exist, because our scores, our achievements are all yours in the first place.

I know I have already said this, but the last few months, as well as making us achieve academic success and growth in character, has also made me personally closer to you, and to all of my friends. Last year, I had shown a selfish streak when I didn’t share an important piece of information related to the board exams with my classmates. I was under the misconception that achieving success alone, and excluding others from it, would be fulfilling. But the last few months, as all of us worked together, I learnt that happiness is greater when shared with close ones. Last week, when everyone’s phenomenal results were announced, I genuinely felt happy for Nonny’s Literature 800 and Vulture’s Calculus 5. But what affected me the most was your reaction. You always had high expectations from us, and I never thought it would actually be possible to live up to them. But every time you talked about the results, you looked happy, and I think that gave all of us more satisfaction than any great score or any college admission could ever give.