TODAY -

Teachers, I salute thee!

S Balakrishnan *



I don't remember my first teacher and I can't be blamed for it because that was 60 years back. But luckily I have a photo of my first teachers. However, truly speaking, I can't claim them as my first teachers nor can they claim me as their student, as I was a dummy student.

Believe me, I was so keen on learning that I adamantly accompanied my elder sisters to their school and was made to sit along with my second sister in first standard. Alas, only if I had continued with that same zeal ...!

This archival photo is so unique because in those days class group photo at the end of every academic year was unheard of. This photo of Section 'A' of the 1st standard was taken during the academic session 1960-61, exactly 60 years back! Can you spot me? The cutest and innocent boy seated at the extreme right in the bottom row is me; my sister is 3rd from right in the third row. Maybe I was the teachers' pet as well!

An analysis of the six-decade-old photo reveals many social facts while most of the girls are wearing the traditional paavaadai-chattai (full length skirt-blouse) with double-plaited hairdressing, one is wearing a knee-long gown and another full gown. Many girls are decked up for the special occasion, probably told in advance. But what make-up can boys apply?

It is a mixture of students from very poor families to lower middle class strata. There are more girls than boys which is surprising. The boys are wearing shirts & half trousers, except one (or is that a girl?) who is wearing a striped pajama-like dress. I am stylishly wearing a full sleeved 'jippa' (as kurta is known in Tamil) with slippers on. A few of them, however, seem to be over aged for the first standard.

One boy's hair is not cropped and he is having a traditional tuft. The sleeve of teachers' blouse is up to the elbow and even beyond. No notebook and pencil/pen, only slates (made of slate stone, as held by the girl in the bottom row) and 'balpam' (white slate pencil) for writing. This photo was probably taken at the convent school in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu. Or was it in Madras?

There was no formal Kindergarten schooling then but a sort of informal play schooling nicknamed 'half standard'. So technically this was my 1/2 standard! These days you have graduation ceremony after the three-year KG-level with all the paraphernalia, including photo shoots! Do I envy? Well, I don't remember anything about my 1st standard schooling.

I remember my 2nd standard at the convent school in Kumbakonam for the reason that I was scared of moving to the next standard because of the fear instilled by my sister about the 3rd standard maths teacher.

Needless to say I was and am still weak in mathematics; my worst fear was the multiplication tables. "Oh, come; welcome to the 3rd standard. The maths teacher is waiting with a long cane. Swish! Your buttocks and palms will burn", she used to scare me.

But God was so kind to this cute, innocent, little boy! My father was transferred to Madurai and I escaped from that dreaded maths teacher. When we arrived in Madurai from Kumbakonam, the academic session had started. So we three could get seats only in a municipal primary school that was quite close to our house.

The school functioned from an old house with a central courtyard open to the sky where rain would pour down beautifully. I was charmed by the class teacher who invited a few of us to her house for her birthday bash! With all the classes crammed within that small house, it was cacophony all around. We three shifted to a convent school next year and my 4th & 5th standards were done there.

I remember only my 4th standard teacher who was yet to be ordained as a religious Sister; she was tall and well built and had a manly voice. But she was kind and friendly to the students. Despite being a Christian school, it staged Hindu mythology-based dramas during the annual day function. She played the role of Guha in that part of Ramayana epic that emphasizes friendship.

The next day we enthusiastically told her that we had identified her though she playfully insisted it wasn't she. My memory is blank about my 5th standard teacher/s. During lunch break we will visit the church within the school compound for tasting the salty holy water in the font!

Now I was a BIG boy into 6th standard and into a boys' high school; not anymore under the constant watchful eyes of my two big sisters. For the next three years also all the teachers were female. So I had presumed for a long time that the word 'Teacher' is a feminine noun that indicates only female teachers. For one year I had a Tamil male teacher who was addressed as 'Ayyaa' in Tamil (Sir).

The portly Tamil lady teacher was addressed as 'Amma' (Mother). From 6th onwards I was put in an English medium. So my parents thought it was better to undergo extra coaching (tuition) for one year at the school itself. Throughout my academic life, this was the only period I underwent tuition. I really hated this because "I know everything" (Enakku ellaam theriyum) was my standard reply as a student to my parents.

I still remember the school's prayer song in praise of Goddess Saraswathi 'Vellai thaamaraiyil veetrirupaal, veenai seiyum oliyil irupaal ...' (Seated on white lotus, playing on the veena ...).

Again there was change of town and school with father being transferred to Tirunelveli, further down south. Here at St. John's high school, Palayamkottai, it was all male teachers who were addressed as Sir. So my presumption that 'Teacher' means only female teachers got strengthened.

The 9th standard Sir was a bubbly person liked by students; due to some difference with the management he was shifted midway to another school. The 10th standard Sir was Mr. Ahimaz who declared that he knew everything under the sun, from A to Z, as his name itself proclaimed. True to his word, you ask him about anything, the next day he would explain about it in detail!

The secret was later revealed that he had at home a set of Encyclopedias. Sadly, my memory is blank about the teachers of my final year of schooling, i.e., SSLC (11th Standard). Even at this final stage no group photo was taken by the school. How sad!

Therefore, this is the one and only photo proof of my eleven year long school education! How interesting would a reunion of this group be!

My respect to my teachers, all of whom must, by now, be waiting in the other world for my arrival to refresh their subjects; but no maths, please!


* S Balakrishnan wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at krishnanbala2004(AT)yahoo(DOT)co(DOT)in
This article was webcasted on September 05 2021.



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Violence in Manipur 2023-2024 : Timeline
  • Is Delhi doing the right thing ?
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #3 : Gallery
  • Modi's arduous journey & fate of Naga peace
  • Indo-Naga Talks (From 2012) :: Timeline
  • Autism: Why fit in, when you can stand out?
  • Bloodstained Masquerade :: Poem
  • Dharamvir Singh: Forgotten hero of TV
  • What is keeping the clash going on ?
  • Warning of a coming politico-military storm
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #6
  • The Great June 18 Uprising : Timeline
  • The Great June 18 Uprising : Gallery
  • Are we on track to end AIDS by 2030 ?
  • 3 writers from Manipur for Sahitya Akademi
  • Manipur's traffic, parking: A big nuisance
  • Career in elderly care
  • Keeping the folks under a state of confusion
  • Nothing neat about NEET
  • Aid to relief camps @ Jiribam : Gallery
  • Id Festival- 'Id-Ul-Azha' :: Book
  • World Day to Combat Desertification 2024
  • NDPP did not lose LS due to local problem
  • RSS chief says, priority Manipur
  • What if not IIT ?
  • Waiting for a response from the PM
  • The test of leadership failed
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #35: Download
  • Gastronomy tourism in Manipur : Gallery
  • Triathlon : Manipur bag 6 medals (3 gold)
  • Illegal immigrants/fugitives from Myanmar
  • Eid-ul-Adha: Embracing sacrifice
  • A solution to Meitei-Kuki-Zo conflict
  • The Power of Poppy - 35 :: Poem
  • Scientist of Manipur: R K Brojen Singh
  • Brief sketch on General Balaram Sougaijamba
  • Non-violent for peaceful, mutual co-existence
  • Homeless person ..alcoholism & defeated TB
  • Cancer on rise among young adults
  • Defending, fighting for Idea of Manipur
  • From partiality to complicity
  • Bike Rally - Sekmai to Kangla : Gallery
  • 'Modi must announce finality of Naga pacts'
  • Gliding over Brahmaputra
  • Question leaks cause stress among student
  • Home remedies for prickly heat
  • After IIT, AIIMS it is now IIM
  • Stealing spotlight from Manipur crisis
  • Tarpon chaklen katpa @ Andro #2 : Gallery
  • Strongly condemns violence in Jiribam
  • Lessons from outcome of LS election
  • Tumcho releases "Goodness of God"
  • Right diagnostic for antimicrobial resistance
  • 12th June is World Day against Child Labour
  • Hands of geo-politics ?
  • The row over NEET-2014
  • 2nd Annual Art Exhibition #1 : Gallery
  • Chilli Chicken: Film Spotlighting NE in B'lore
  • Committee of Narcotics Anonymous - Imphal
  • The Power of Meditation
  • Oceans as a career choice
  • Getting more and more audacious
  • A test of leadership
  • Education Fair @Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • Gifting two seats to Cong
  • Voters empowered democracy
  • Postcards from Meghalaya premieres
  • Milk : Essential nutrient for a healthy body
  • Failing in competitive exam not end of world
  • Delhi : A mere spectator
  • Abandoning Jiribam
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #5
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #2 : Gallery
  • Mainstream in Shoes of Alternative
  • Protect the medicines that protect us
  • Lets take action for our land & our future
  • Democracy and independent media
  • Agenda at work to shut Western Gate
  • Keeping Manipur on the boil
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #34: Download
  • The Enigmatic Journey of 'Laikhutshangbi'
  • Individual and the Social
  • An Ardent Appeal to All Concerns
  • Condemnation of Attack & Govt Inaction
  • The Power of Poppy - 34 :: Poem
  • Scientist of Manipur: Laishram Shanta
  • Alien fishes spotted in Manipur's rivers
  • Training on mushroom at Langthabal
  • Digital avatars or deepfakes ?
  • 7th June is the World Food Safety Day
  • How to prepare for UPSC after 10th ?
  • The Jiri violence
  • Beginning of a new vote culture ?
  • Bimol Akoijam (Cong) wins Inner PC : Gallery
  • BJP, NPF & other NDA pay heavy price
  • Nature is one of greatest blessings of God
  • Plantation drive in Tripura, Assam & Manipur
  • Summer beauty
  • Environment conservation & over-exploitation
  • Is Modi cut out for leading a coalition ?
  • 'Ishanou' Selection @ Cannes #2: Gallery
  • Scholarship for Johnstone Hr Sec students
  • 1st foundation day of Interfaith Forum
  • World Environment Day: Our land, our future
  • Indonesia stronger anti-tobacco measures
  • Navigating a fragile Myanmar: India's policy
  • New breed entering electoral politics
  • The road to formation of new govt
  • International Dance Day #1 : Gallery
  • Matchbox marketing mantra
  • Stop harming nature :: Poem
  • Saving for oneself & the Nation
  • Model United Nations (MUN) conducted
  • Tobacco: Threat to health & environment
  • Candidate from ruling party biting the dust
  • The verdict
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #4
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #3 : Gallery
  • Navigating Remal amidst Manipur conflict
  • We are #GenerationRestoration
  • Intl Day of Innocent Children Victims
  • Apparel Industry Skills & Innovation CoE
  • What's in a cyclone's name ?
  • Ongoing clash, the floods, the losses
  • Exit poll predictions
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #33: Download
  • Evading flood & rethinking urbanization
  • Manipur Flood: Health Advisory
  • Onus on civil bodies to ensure NNPG unity
  • Rats also cause flood
  • Benefits of JEE Main mock tests
  • People have spoken, now the results
  • The fury of Remal
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #1 : Gallery
  • The flood in our Stars
  • The Power of Poppy - 33 :: Poem
  • 'Group of people misrepresented themselves'
  • EV industry and career options
  • Scientist of Manipur: Chandrakant Aribam
  • Candy flavoured traps to hook next Gen
  • Commemorate Naga Plesbicite Day 1951 #2
  • Tobacco affects health & environment too
  • Jio extend validity for Customer in Manipur
  • Students must learn about AI irrespective
  • As vote count day approaches : Floods
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #2 : Gallery
  • Flooded : Sacrifice of Yairipok's Maiden
  • World No Tobacco Day 2024
  • Chandam Rishikanta wins NPC Nat'l C'ship
  • Flood: Helpline numbers for emergency
  • Battling body odour ?
  • Floods : Not entirely natural phenomena
  • PM Modi's purpose
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #1 : Gallery
  • June Calendar for Year 2024 : Tools
  • Flood: Control Rooms & Helpline numbers
  • Economic impact of ongoing conflict
  • Army Recruitment Rally for Manipur
  • Cut deficit, boom likely
  • Are Gods angry ? Wake up call for Manipur
  • Beating of the Retreat #2 : Gallery
  • We did Overcome: Mayhem of Month of May
  • Training on mushroom at Potshagbam
  • Famous female Mathematicians in India
  • Disinformation campaign thengnare
  • Human trafficking puts humanity to shame
  • Sky opens up in all its fury
  • Licypriya meets Italy PM & Pope Francis
  • HSLC (Class X) 2024 : Full Result
  • HSLC 2024 : Important Info & Grading System
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Private Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Aided Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Govt Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Statistical Abstract
  • HSLC 2024 : Comparative Statement
  • Combined Defence Services Exam 2024
  • Good show in Class X exams
  • Downplaying the crisis
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #3
  • Reviving Lamphelpat : Conservation : Gallery
  • Commemorate Naga Plesbicite Day 1951 #1
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Hojai
  • The Power of Poppy - 32 :: Poem
  • Insights from CUET-UG Counselling
  • International Day for Biological Diversity
  • Unseen force at work: Time to unravel it
  • Sheikh Hasina's revelation
  • The Vanishing Meitei Tribe
  • Building career in defence & strategic study
  • Why example of model code of conduct ?
  • Ownership of responsibility
  • Will pressure mount on key players in NE
  • How to save your foot after an accident
  • Children Camp @JNMDA Imphal #3 : Gallery
  • Education Fair @Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • Project Associate @ CSE, Assam Univ
  • Understanding schizophrenia
  • Advancement in Multi Objective Optimization
  • When will women in voter list increase ?
  • Making 2 plus 2 is equal to 5
  • Changing face of drug menace
  • Scientist of Manipur: Jayanta Manoharmayum
  • 25 yrs since Atal Vajpayee visit to RIMS
  • 4 Lakhs donated to support (L) Maipak Family
  • Clarification: Guwahati Meet on Humanitarian
  • Start UPSC prep after 12th for success
  • Tips to avoid melting makeup in summer
  • Giving a big solid push to ST demand
  • Time to come clean
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba: 1 occasion, 2 narratives #3
  • Khongjom Day @Khebaching #2 : Gallery
  • 'Ishanou' Selection @ Cannes #1: Gallery
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #2
  • Scientist of Manipur: Amom Ruhikanta
  • Preserving Thang-Ta :: Rare Photos
  • Regarding Human Rights Situation in Manipur
  • Malemnganbi Laishram : Science Topper
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2024 #2: Gallery
  • Thokchom Sheityajit : Arts Topper
  • Aiena Naorem : Commerce Topper
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Science Topper
  • HSE 2024 : Subject Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : District Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : Candidates with Highest Marks
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Science Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Arts Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Commerce Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Arts Topper
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Commerce Topper
  • Aftermath of ferocious hailstorm #1 : Gallery
  • Radio E-pao: Manipuri Film OST (130+ song)
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing : Full Book
  • A ferocious hailstorm @Imphal : Gallery
  • '365 Days of Chin-Kuki Aggression' : Gallery
  • National Science Teacher workshop
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #2 : Gallery
  • Scientists of Manipur : Ngangkham Nimai
  • GHOST of PEACE :: Download Booklet
  • List of Kings of Manipur: 33 - 1984 AD