I came into teaching not that it was my first love but because it was the only job that I could get at that time and later I had no stamina left with me to try for another job. Having spent almost eight years of my life in an attempt to make it to administrative job, I felt tired for doing any other job except teaching. J
I had been into this profession for almost 2-3 years but the feeling of loss for not having made it to HAS still tormented me off and on. It was during one of such times that I happened to go to Shimla. Whiling away my time near the Telegraph building, I was surprised when someone called me. Looking back, I found someone, with a happy look on his face, calling me. On a closer look I found him to be Sharma, a fellow contender for HAS, who had made it to HPS and was posted as Dy. S. P. He seemed very glad to see me though, honestly speaking, I was not so. I had the same feeling that is generated when you meet someone more successful than you and his presence reminds you of your failure. But there are certain feelings that are not to be spoken or shown so I reciprocated with a broad smile.
He was really happy. Rather happiness exuded from every pore of his being. He wanted to sit somewhere and have a cup of tea (and regale me as well with his achievements). I, too, welcomed the idea of a cup of tea. As the Police Headquarter was nearby so he suggested going and sitting in the office of one Ms. U, who too, was in HPS and had her office there. God! I wondered, how would I maintain my composure when not one but two of them would be there to remind me of my failure. I had no choice and quietly followed him to the corridors of power. The narrow corridors and the stairs were completely matted.
Inside the office I found her sitting majestically in her office. It was a beautiful saree that she was draped in instead of Khakee uniform that I had imagined her to be in. Some satisfaction it would have been to see her in dull drab, but it was not to be! J On way to the office, we met a number of police men who saluted Sharma in a very respectful manner. In the office, too, I found the same tone and ambience, adding to my discomfort. Whosoever would enter the room would say nothing more than “Yes sir” or “Janaab”. I was awestruck by the quota of “yes sirs” that they got in 5 minutes time. It was enough for me to feel jealous of their position! I cursed myself silently for having accepted the invitation to a cup of tea. The talk now turned to my profession and surprisingly both of them sincerely appreciated the teaching profession .I found even this to be a courteous appreciation done not to make me feel insignificant.
All the time I was comparing my work life with that of these two. And what I had missed by a narrow margin. I am lucky indeed if our department peon would fill my water jug, or dust my room. It was so spick and span here in this office. I searched foe a speck of dust anywhere but could not. Meanwhile both of them continued with appreciation of the noble profession of teaching.
It was plain courtesy that made me invite them to come to Hamirpur whenever they had an opportunity but wished them never to come as I had not as much as a peon to bring tea to my guests. I felt so small even to think of such a situation.
It was as if the providence wanted to make me appreciate what I had got that the phone on the table rang. It was a much superior officer, of the lady, that was calling. The abrupt change in her sitting posture made me wonder. Her entire demeanour changed as if the officer in question was able to see her sitting posture as well. With a ramrod straight back and a polite expression on her face all that she said in the mouth part of the phone was, “Yes Sir”, “Right Sir”, and sometimes just plain “Sir”. I was surprised and wondered what kind of communication is it” Don’t they say one single complete sentence to their superior? What made me laugh in my sleeves was that the other one had also become very attentive in his posture and his body language seem to say without even saying any thing “Yes Sir”…God how conditioned they had become to subordination in the uniform.
I was sorry for them. I tried putting myself in their shoes, sorry big police shoes, and had a revelation. Would I switch over my job with them? Never. I thanked God for making me a teacher. I felt it from the core of my heart. I suddenly realized the freedom that enjoyed in my profession. When I talk to my Director, it is on one-to-one basis as we share a common bond together, love for students as we both are primarily teachers. I revere him for being a person to guide me but this comes from the heart and not just being my superior. I can walk anytime to his office and talk about what bothers me. So much freedom and so less “Yes Sirs” to go along with it! Where would one get such a freedom and a role to act as a mentor to young ones who look up to you?
I think that Budhha after getting enlightenment must have felt the way I felt that day and I was happy to have accepted an offer to have a cup of tea in the Police headquarters!