This is a nice letter of appreciation written by Goody Goody to Sir:
I have thought of writing something about you many times. Every time I open the word document or hold a pen between my fingers and start thinking about you, my thought travels a similar path down my mind. It starts with exploring the innumerable facets of you that can be captured. It ends with complete awe of your limitless capabilities and I am tentative to start, fearing I would fail to encapsulate everything about you, every person that you are, every role that you have played, every risk that you have taken, every battle that you have won, every moment that you have gifted.
Today I am determined to continue. Whatever little bit I can chronicle about you, that’s still better than not writing a word. Because –
Everyone must know about the different roles that you have played.
They should know you have been the most innovative teacher, finding out the best books and movies for us, carrying the discussion from pages of books to the outer world, from movies to real-life, and teaching them in the best possible settings, sometimes while watching the rain or sometimes while sitting under the sun. You would agree to our demands about discussing Life is Beautiful while watching the rain or discussing Catcher in the Rye sitting on the staircase outside the admin while enjoying the cool breeze. Those were some of the perfect times in our lives, reading the perfectly chosen books in the perfect settings with the perfect teacher.
They should know you have been the best of friends, sharing stories with us, playing with us, hearing us out when we had grievances, lending a helping hand whenever we needed. You would share stories from your IIT days and work days, drawing lessons, at the same time entertaining us. You would be the most excited player in the field of Great Game. Even when we were small, you would take us seriously and treat us as equals.
They should know that you are the best guardian, guiding us to the correct path, making us able individuals to face the difficult world. You knew how unhappy we would be in Indian colleges, so you took on the unknown difficulty of admitting us to US colleges or taking the unconventional path of keeping some of us in the school. You told us not to trust anything or anyone blindly. By discussing about work and about relationships, you prepared us for life. You talked about unhappiness and many ways it would find us. You asked us to have a higher cause than just wealth and fame.
Everyone must know about the different people that you have been in your life.
They should know that you have been a risk-taker, who chose to give up a settled life, leave a high-paying job, keep the luxury of metro-cities behind, and come to a small tier-III town to start your entrepreneurial venture.
They should know that you didn’t just choose to remain an entrepreneur, but you also became a social activist. You could have very well limited yourself to making the school successful, catering to the demands of the parents, but you remained firm on your stand about Engineering and IITs, letting no students take the path which has destroyed so many childhood and career. You even became a columnist, talking about how the craze for engineering career should stop. Through your relentless drive, you saved a lot of lives from becoming victims of their parents’ unfulfilled dreams.
They should know that you are a free-thinker and a revolutionary who could challenge Indian education system. You reimagined the whole system; you banned textbooks in the school despite a lot of opposition, in the process even renouncing your own identity and claims to earlier fame. Because you valued the truth above all, so you were not even deterred to say that your academic credentials were products of a wrong system. You criticised IITs without choosing to make it your identity, you opposed the Indian exam-system even though you were a state-ranker in the same system.
They should know that when you taught history it felt like you have experienced it first-hand. When you taught movies it felt like you have been in the shoes of those characters. When you taught us math I saw you deriving the formulas from scratch in front of my eyes. You could have probably invented some of those formulas if you had chosen a different, more specialised path. You didn’t just teach these subjects, you put the insights gained from them to practical use, sometimes using Lenin’s strategy or sometimes Gandhi’s.
Everyone must know about the beautiful moments that you have gifted.
They should know that inside and outside the classroom it was a pleasure to be with you. You would always be entertaining us, making us laugh with your jokes, making us more knowledgeable about the world, coming up with great ideas or tweets right in front of us. Sitting right at the Theque, while listening to Bollywood music being played in the background, you came up with an explanation of why cheap music is produced more now as opposed to medieval times. Sitting right at the lunch table, you started a furious debate between bucketists and showerists, in the common meeting you started a debate between chair-ists and floor-ists, spoon-ists and hand-ists – all these were fun but at the same time intellectually stimulating as we understood how we are instinctively but unnecessarily drawn towards the Western culture.
And who can ever forget the joke “There is a bit of Horse in Mule”, when you wanted to say how Mule has become arrogant, similar to Horse. The double meaning must have gone past many present in the room.
They should know that you made our lives more enriched, more fulfilling by keeping us away from the addiction of smartphone and internet. We are not affected by fake news, our brains are not spoiled by playing endless video games, we are so much better off by not being part of the endless hatred being spewed on social media.
They should know you taught us to appreciate not only good movies and books, but also music. Who can forget those times when you played Mozart’s music every day before beginning the class? Who can forget the sweet melody of the Beethoven’s symphonies and Vivaldi’s concertos?
I am yet to say how smartly you solved the problem of recruiting teachers, how savvily you moulded the opinion of the people of this town, how you keep the non-teaching staff happy and united, how astutely you got your way even after keeping everyone happy.
In front of all your achievements, contributions, and the ones I couldn’t still capture, I feel too small to be even be a chronicler. A letter is not enough to tell about you to others; an entire book can be written on you, and maybe it will be written someday.