By MALIK JAVEID
Being a teacher is often considered a noble profession with no match in terms of status and respect in society. But, this all seems to be history now; as the sign of times has changed so has the prestige and status of teacher changed and many times it takes an ugly turn in student teacher conflict. To support this argument, I want to share an experience of being a teacher. Back in 2016, while I was working in college as contractual lecturer and as exams were going on I was assigned the duty to supervise UG exams. Though, I hesitated , first being young and inexperienced but I had to succumb to the order of the higher authority- being a contractual and accept it under compulsion. It was snowing that day and to my bad luck, I had to keep a vigil on the Arts stream students, most of whom appeared to be superlative to me in terms of height and age from their looks, they had created the atmosphere of awe, fear and horror.
From their clothes, it appeared as if they were armoured to teeth the way they had projected their arms beneath their pherans. As I entered the exam hall I got welcomed as expected with howling sounds from them ,but somehow I maintained my calm with few English words and after a loud bang on my bench , they became calm. For five minutes everything was going as per plan and then suddenly they became uncomfortable as they started to unleash their arsenal of cheating Chits(zero sized photocopies ). I didn’t let them do it and for the next half an hour , the dustbin got full with these chits and pages of guides.
Then, a man sitting in the front row had enough of it: he didn’t like my approach of strictness and with his hoarse voice asked for permission to go the toilet, I knew his wrong intentions but I was also sure that he was not intelligent enough to remember the answer from the guide that he may have dumped in the washroom ;so I granted him the permission for it. After five minutes , he came back to his seat; I didn’t ask for the reason why he was late. After a few minutes more, he began to show the signs of discomfort again and, this time, he asked for a glass of water as he wanted to have some medicine. The young man took some uncovered white tablets out of his inner pocket and swallowed these.
After this, he told me in typical Kashmiri tone, “waa khyomay mei yee dose , ma saeth karezene woin kehn” (Now I have taken my dose, don’t disturb me anymore)as his eyes turned blood red. I pulled myself back on hearing this statement and complained to superintendent about his conduct and to my dismay he was himself afraid of him and told me to leave him alone. For the next half an hour , the man opened his chits from undisclosed locations from his 6ft body and I turned a mute spectator and he became messiah and bhaya(brother ) of every girl as he began do what was illegal openly but, to his bad luck, time ended soon and , before leaving , he pointed his fingers towards me and said ,” I will see you outside”.
To be honest, for a moment, I was frightened to leave the College gate, but as time passed by I never encountered him again, though I was expecting it anytime sooner or later; so I used to often walk in company of other people. Then, one day, as I was walking alone sluggishly as usual in busy market, the same person dressed in an Afghan attire sitting in his K10 car stationed on side beckoned me. I tried to avoid him as if I was not hearing. As I began to walk faster he chased me like a leopard and finally caught hold of my shirt at back and for a moment I thought my end was near. I began to remember my family . As I turned my face towards him I could see the same anger and reddishness in his eyes. The man caught hold of my collar with a firm grip and for a moment I struggled to breathe as he began to remind me of the exam day. I somehow wanted to get rid of him, so I began to play blame games and started to respond to his every term with affirmation ,as his filthy language began to overpower my pleading answers . Fortunately, a crowd of nearly dozen people had gathered to free me and it worked. As the man started to loosen his tight grip on my collar gently, I felt the freedom of fresh air and my assailant went away without uttering a word . I was sweating profusely as I sallied back home in hurry without disclosing anything to my family. I locked my room, closed my eyes and began to introspect on all the happenings: Was the man just trying to frighten me or was he planning the worse for me? I thanked and prayed to God for being kind enough to me for I don’t know how many such incidents go unnoticed as teaching is not a cake walk anymore.
Post script: Six months later, I encountered the same person at a shop font in the same market , but this time he greeted me with Salam and urged me to share a cup of tea with him . Perhaps, this time I had met a different person who was no longer addicted to those white pills.
—The author is an Msc in Chemistry and is NET/SLET qualified. He can be reached at: [email protected]