As most regular readers of the Times of Amma know, the month of May is when we celebrate our mothers with guest posts from readers and friends on one of the most special women in their lives. This May though, we focus on Mothers of a different kind - this May is about celebrating those who nurtured and nourished us without really being our mothers.
This month we celebrate the Mother Figures in our life.
We start the month with this ode by Shriya Srinivasan to her Archana Teacher, her Amma at school.
While there are lot of kids that cry their hearts out when it’s time to go inside the school and leave their parents outside, I was one exceptionally intolerable kid. I used to cry my heart and soul out because it was just not making any sense in leaving behind my so very beautiful Amma and the comfort of her soft saree for a place which has always made me feel alien. It was never an easy task to drop me off at school. Still, these are my descriptions of myself and they are not my mother’s words. She has never made me feel responsible for the streak of worry that I used to see on her face on most of the days.
She is my Amma. Our lives are joined by our sacred bond. But one person who was just a regular 1st Standard teacher, who could have chosen to belittle this crying, clingy child is whom I am going to write about.
Archana teacher was my Amma at school. Her special care and infinite patience towards not only me but also my worried mother makes my eyes moist as I write this. My school life isn’t one of those that kids talk about going back to. But if I can think of it even with a pinch of salt today I owe it to Archana teacher (‘A’ henceforth!).
She would hold onto me until all the kids were assembled inside the class and take me along with her, practically never leaving my side on very bad days. She would at times make me sit on her table and talk to me so that I could divert my thoughts and it was also her way of saving me from the never-ending questions of other students as to why I was crying! During the break time which was at 9.30 am, she would see to it that I finished my tiffin because on most of the days I wouldn’t be able to eat due to my consistent crying. The crying was so severe that I used to have difficulty in speaking and occasionally in also properly breathing. I know that those are not very pleasant memories but that is what A had to take care of. And as a matter of fact, there would be 50 to 60 more kids in the classroom; each with a different issue.
I remember one incident very vividly, which is my mother with tears in her eyes. I suppose that was just a helplessness of an Amma who couldn’t solve her child’s problem. A did a great job in convincing my mother that everything would be fine with her most serene smile and confidence. I stood there with the guilt in my heart increasing exponentially, with A looking at me and smiling. Never did she say that I was a cause for my mother’s sorrow or worry. I will never know why she was so good to me. It is people like her who make me doubt the saying ‘blood is thicker than water’ because, sometimes you end up getting the best relations outside of your family.
You might have heard of ‘family doctor’, A was our ‘family 1st standard teacher’. That is because she taught my aunt, my older sister and then me. So, our bonding was beyond the four walls of the school classroom. My sister was the other extreme, who would have a group of friends already waiting for her outside the school gate and would happily march into the premise with them. This probably made my mother and also A particularly curious as to what was bothering me. The truth be said, I had only one thing bothering me; “Why is my Amma so beautiful? And why should I choose school over her?” So, my mother would try many ways to convince me to enter the school happily, right from soft kisses to harsh glances. But nothing worked and everyday morning A would have to handle that same kid who made everyone clueless with her crying. But A would never lose hope or her patience on me. She would talk me through it at times, and at other days she would just make her best effort to make me forget the whole Amma missing thing. My crying over my parting from Amma was so bad that the after effects of it would last till I came back from school at 12.30 p.m. The memories of that age and the ridiculing from friends and relatives alike haunted me for many years. If there were two people that never lost hope on me, never labelled me a nuisance, and nurtured me with all the love that God had filled them with, it would undoubtedly be my Amma and A; my Amma at school. I cannot imagine how I would have survived that phase of my life, such a tender age in the absence of A’s support.
Folks in my family and my friends particularly praise me for my table manners and I proudly tell them whom I learnt it from. A would make it a point that all the kids in her class ate neatly which went well with the kind of perfectionist that I was. I cannot imagine even one day when A would be clad in a crumpled saree or an unkempt hair. When I close my eyes to think of her, I can picture her in a crisp blue cotton saree, her big maroon bindi and the medium length hair fastened in a simple braid. Her jewellery was just like her; minimal and filled with poise, a wrist watch on one hand and two simple gold bangles on the other. Even today when I occasionally bump onto her, she brightens up my memory with her same old charming smile and the same old love sparkling in her eyes.
To A and many more teachers like her, there is only one thing that this little reticent kid wants to say. ‘THANK YOU’.
Sure, God couldn’t be everywhere, so he created mothers. But he also created teachers like A as a backup for mothers.
Shriya Srinivasan is a finance student who also blogs. You can read more from her on 'Dirty Pearls Blog'.
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