Saif sahib had a unique and extraordinary style of teaching with an adorable smile
Some teachers are remembered for ages to come. One such teacher is Saif-ud-din Bhat sahib, famously known among his students as Saif sahib. He ignited the minds of a large number of students in different hamlets of Lolab. Though he superannuated from service a decade back, he continues to strengthen the morale of his students.
Just the entry of a great teacher like Saif sahib in the classroom made the class lively and interesting. Saif sahib used to teach us Urdu at Govt Higher Secondary School Tekipora Lolab, more than a decade back. A great lover of Urdu Literature and History, he wonderfully introduced Mirza Ghalib to us in the ninth standard. Learning of Ghalib’s letters from Saif sahib was an exciting experience. When he in his loud and clear voice recited, ‘Ha…ha…Mera Mir Mehdi Majrooh aaya’, it sounded as if Ghalib himself had come down to the class. Saif sahib taught us Prem Chand, Akbar Allahabadi, Mirza Anees and Dabeer, to recall a few names. He magically explained the different genres of Urdu literature like nazm, ghazal, masnavi, marsiya.
Saif sahib had a marvellous style of cracking a joke. In our tenth class, he cracked a joke with one of our friends, Mudasir Beigh, making the entire class burst into loud laughter. Mudasir had the habit of putting pen and pencil into his mouth, which made Saif sahib crack a new joke that day. That was the day Mudasir quit his habit. In another memorable incident, Haleem Mir was eating an apple when Saif sahib came into the class. ‘What are you doing, Haleem?’ he asked. ‘Sir, apple kha raha hoon,’ Haleem replied. The entire class simply exploded into laughter.
Saif sahib had another extraordinary quality: he was an exemplary gardener. One hardly saw him sitting in office or on a chair in the lawn, as most of the teachers at leisure did. He tirelessly worked on preparing the lawns and gardens in different institutions of the valley and made flowers bloom. I still remember him working in the lawns of higher secondary school Tekipora during hot June days. On many occasions, he came to class with his hands covered in clay/mud. He even worked on the flower beds in fierce rains with one hand holding the umbrella and the other holding a spade. One may say that Saif sahib was a teacher as well as ecologist/ environmentalist par excellence.
In April 2020, I came across him in front of his residence after a long time. He was overwhelmed to meet his student after so long and the love that he used to shower on us once again overflowed from his blissful face. He talked to us for a long time, reminiscing of so many things from his days as a teacher. “Teaching is such a noble profession,” he told us, “that even when the students exceed their teacher in education or job and status, it makes the teacher happy.”
Though little frail in body now, he nonetheless sported a smile on his face. His loving smile for his students is a treasure trove and motivates them to forge ahead in life.
Revered Sir, your hard work, dedication, love and sincerity has brought laurels to the lives of your students. Writing this small piece is not enough for a great teacher like you, but just to let you know that we have not forgotten you, at all.
May God bless you, dear Sir.
The writer is a doctoral fellow at Dept of English, University of Kashmir. [email protected]