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One of my colleagues at school and I shared a beautiful friendship. Unfortunately, rumours were spread leading to us having to part ways.
This is a slice of my own life. Many moons ago I was working as a language as a teacher (it was a short stint) in a well-established residential school in the national capital region.
There I met a young gentleman who taught political science to senior secondary classes. He was of a largely cheerful and amiable disposition. As time passed we became friendly. If and when our free periods coincided we would chat in the staff room.
He was extremely courteous, refined in speech and mannerism, never made any obscene remarks as many of our other male colleagues would. Moreover, we had common interests which led to greater interactions.
I must say, despite the affinity, there were no overtures or flirtatious approach on his part, nor did he make any passes. We exchanged greeting cards at Christmas and New Year. That’s about all.
I am thankful for his overall attitude. And I did notice this, if a few disgruntled senior students happened to heckle me for my strictness or awarding them low marks, he would appear on the scene. He would chide, and shoo them away.
This did not go down well with the students. Some of them dared to pose cheeky questions, ‘Sir madam aapka kya lagti hai?’ (what is your equation with madam?) He would cut them to size in his own way. But good things must come to an end.
Likewise, our so-called ‘relationship’ flickered out. During the winter vacation that year, the school authorities organized a fifteen day-camp for the senior secondary students within the school premises. Being a resident teacher, I was given charge of the girl students. The boys were to be taken care of by my friend – let us call him Om – during the camp.
Everything went nicely for the first few days. During the two weekends, two picnics were organized for the students. I accompanied Om, a female colleague, Ria and the students to the resorts of Sultanpur and Sohna.
During the excursions, Ria maintained a stern exterior, not interacting or speaking much. So I chose to hang around with Om for the greater part of the time. As he was in a jovial and talkative mood, we really enjoyed ourselves. When the school opened after the vacation I was in for a shock!
Ria had spread the word around that Om and I had ‘something going on’ between us, that we were having an ‘affair’ of sorts, etc. In reality, she was peeved because I preferred Om’s company to hers.
I reasoned with myself: was it a crime to avoid a poker-face lady and enjoy the company of somebody more cheerful? Would it have been better had I stuck to her all the time and consequently got bored to death? The incident spread like wildfire.
From time to time, ill-mannered pupils would make snide comments, addressing nobody in particular. But I got the cue. All I did was to look the other way. I am not sure but I guess he too must have encountered similar situations.
To cut a long story short, Om found a more lucrative situation in another school and put in his papers, barely two months after the incident. I suspect something must have transpired between him and the administration which made him take this step. Or was it a coincidence? Who knows?
On his final day at school, Om drew me aside in the vacant staff room, shook hands and bade me goodbye. Without painting any rosy pictures about the ‘future,’ we promised to stay in touch. Unfortunately, we eventually lost touch as months passed by.
Now even as I write this I feel a deep sense of gratitude towards him for his little acts of kindness, empathy and tacit understanding. And I pray for his happiness and well being, wherever he may be.
Picture credits: Still from Amazon Prime movie Chhalaang
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