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Monday, October 29, 2012

Revisiting the +2 years-1

A tribute to teachers

One morning in early summer of year 2000, I woke to a new realization: I was to leave the village more or less permanently. I had just passed SLC in precious first division and was all set to start higher education in the city. The whole world that reared and nurtured me was now to be left behind and a totally new world was to be discovered. The known, accustomed, predictable and loving world was now to be abandoned in favor of unknown, unaccustomed, unpredictable and expectedly hostile world. 

Looking back, these 12 years have not been that disappointing. Not all dreams of those days and moments have come true but the journey so far has been commendable, to say the least. Of this period, the most crucial years for me have been the +2 years of transformation. Here I revisit some of the memories from those years. 
The village from where I dreamed of bright future

In the school I was a topper. In class 8, I had even topped the district itself. Teachers used to frankly present myself as a model to others. My performance in English and Mathematics was impeccable by those standards and everyone in the village watched with hope and awe how I would perform in the college. In Chitwan, however, I was suddenly among the brilliant minds from all over Chitwan, surrounding districts and of course, occasional students from remote areas like myself. Most of them had come from the prestigious private schools and had flawless English. 

On day one, I almost fainted with fear and anxiety when asked to introduce myself. While the teacher approvingly nodded and even praised those from famous private schools, the name of my school, ‘Rangkhani Ma. Vi. Rangkhani’ only drew blank stares but I was enormously relieved for having successfully uttered those words. I had passed the entrance in 52nd position and was placed in section C. Gradually, I learned how my new friends were and how they studied. My written English was fare but spoken English was horrible. That factor was sufficient to make me nervous and feel inferior to most of my friends. 

However, I had come with enormous responsibilities. In fact, my family had gambled with expenditure of a private college that was beyond the means. Unlike the friends who were mostly from relatively wealthy families and an average performance was also alright, I had to anyway excel in studies and make way for a decent-paying career at the earliest. Also, all of my colleagues from the village had got admission in government colleges and were studying at far lower cost. 

Thus breaking the barrier of English language became my first challenge. ‘Meanings into words’ was a brilliant book and my perseverance with the exercises paid well in the grammar. While the friends used to take passing or even doing well in English for granted and infrequently bothered with doing the exercises, I passionately solved them and Dharma sir was always there for help.

Eventually my written English was in par with my friends but the process was not that smooth. In retrospect, I believe there was one more factor beside perseveration that played a crucial role. After first few days of immense inferiority complex, I suddenly changed tactics and lost all the fear, reluctance and hesitation. 

My writing practices were already moving smoothly. Now I started raising hands and answering questions even when I was not sure and my language was crude, inaccurate and often hesitant as opposed to that of polished and perfect language of my friends. All students in the room would stare me for a moment and some would even lower their heads with fear that I may say something terribly wrong but that mattered very little at the end. I used to feel like a king when I sat down after satisfying the teacher. Sometimes, the teacher used to ask for the note books of students to dictate in front of the whole class. While many hesitated, I eagerly gave it to them and was never embarrassed by mistake as they made a very good opportunity for learning. One example: In a question that was to be answered in ‘yes’ or ‘no’, I had ended up writing ‘Nonsense’. When sir said that was wrong, many felt odd that I did not know that simple a thing but for me, that was one of many steps of learning. 

Coming to the more difficult and more challenging part of literature, Devraj sir did far more than ordinary teaching. I probably owe him a lot for helping me to develop the crucial faculty of judgment and analysis. Even though we then rarely realized this fact, Sir used to put every chapter in proper perspective before entering into the chapter itself. An essay ‘A look at a tea cup’, (by Patricia Hampl if I remember correctly), for example, would start with a telling narrative of the world war II and the devastation brought about by it. Some classes would entirely consist of the contemporary world events like the 9/11. In still other classes there would be a debate or memoir-telling. 

To help my dilapidated spoken English, I missed no opportunity to speak in the class. One example: in one of the Devraj Sir’s classes, it was decided to hold a debate instantaneously. The topic was whether war could be justified in any pretext and we were free to choose the side to speak. While most (probably all other friends) chose to speak in favor of peace and derided wars, I chose the challenging task of justifying war in some pretext. I argued in simple language: since human population is growing so rapidly and people are engaged in so many activities that peril the existence of planet itself, a reduction of population through wars may not be that bad a thing, after all. Some of my friends could not hold laughter months after that day when reminded of my speech but I had accomplished my objective: speaking in front of an audience. 

While language is a matter of both hard work and some shrewdness, science and mathematics can almost entirely be mastered by hard work, I somehow believe. Particularly with the set of dedicated teachers as was the case with our college, the environment was particularly conducive. Some perfectionist teachers like Vijay sir in chemistry and Sitaram Bahadur sir in Physics epitomized how concepts could be understood to their core. Other energetic teachers like Kapil sir  and Khem sir in chemistry, Krishna sir in Biology and Bhim sir and Arun sir in Physics showed us how one could enjoy the subject. In mathematics, of course, it was no coincidence that I scored 98% in class 11 exams with down to earth teachers like Rajaram sir and Indra sir. With Nepali in class 12, I have even more pleasant experience. Over the entire year, after completion of every new chapter, a whole class would be devoted to the chapter summary written by the students. Practically, those were my summaries after every chapter that sir read aloud for the class while somebody would be energetic enough to add his/her own very infrequently. Almost all friends were indeed grateful to me for doing a job someone had to do anyway! Besides helping me to score a seemingly impossible 81% in a highly subjective paper of Nepali in the final exams, those writings were the foundation of my later writings. 

As the days passed, the time in Orchid College was thus far from what we used to imagine back home about the campus life. In fact, I was working harder than the school years and sometimes the vastness of the course used to make me feel I was lost somehow.

(Next: Revisiting the +2 years-2; Brother, Friends and much more)


Mr Arjun Acharya said...

nice and cognizance.....surely u can be a someone special;;;;;;keep it up...congratz

Mr Arjun Acharya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

विजय कुमारको खुशी पढेपछि

जीवन, खुशी अहंकार

जीवनमा अफ्ठ्यारा घुम्तीहरुमा हिंडिरहँदा मैले कुनै क्षणमा पलायनलाई एउटा विकल्पको रुपमा कल्पना गरेको थिएँ, त्यसलाई यथार्थमा बदल्ने आँट गरिनँ, त्यो बेग्लै कुरा हो त्यसबेला लाग्थ्योः मेरा समग्र दुखहरुको कारण मेरो वरपरको वातावरण हो, यसबाट साहसपूर्वक बाहिरिएँ भने नयाँ दुख आउलान् तर तत्क्षणका दुरुह दुखहरु गायब भएर जानेछन् कति गलत थिएँ !

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