Friend, mentor, hero – many in one are you, teacher!

Friend, mentor, hero – many in one are you, teacher!

To,
Mr Ayaz Aziz Wani
Sopore

My dear dear Sir,
Let me start by quoting Emily Dickinson:
“I could bring You Jewels—had I a mind to—
But You have enough—of those—
I could bring You Odors from St. Domingo—
Colors—from Vera Cruz—
Berries of the Bahamas—have I—
But this little Blaze
Flickering to itself—in the Meadow—
Suits Me—more than those—
Never a Fellow matched this Topaz—
And his Emerald Swing—
Dower itself—for Bobadilo—
Better—Could I bring?”

This thank you is long overdue. There are so many things I want to thank you for, and I’m sure I’m going to still be missing some by the end of this letter.
First of all, I apologise for all of the times I looked at you with disdain and frustration. I believe I owe you an apology for all the moments of pain and misery that I might have inadvertently caused you. Nevertheless, you gave me a sense of place in this world – a sense of where I have been and where I am going. I have made major life choices with your guidance, and now I know how I want to live my life. Because of you I know what integrity looks like, and I know when it is absent. I am connected to you, and I’m learning that I’ve kept your good parts within me as I’ve grown. I owe you thanks for those meaningful relationships I formed with kindred spirits during my years with you. To me, you were everything rolled into one: teacher, parent, and my best friend.
I asked you to check my homework, wipe away my tears, keep my secrets, and motivate me on my worst days, and you never failed to do all of that and more. You’ll never know how much it meant to me that you’d take the time, even years after I’d been out of your class, to check in or to celebrate my successes with me. I’ve grown up with you, you have often been the first person I used to see in the mornings, and on some days I’ve spent more time with you in your classrooms than with my family in my own home. I just want to tell you that I wholeheartedly believe in you. I respect you. I admire you. I’ll always be here for you to vent to or troubleshoot with. And I’ll always be here to lift you up and remind you just how amazing you really are. It would be impossible to count all the ways that you’ve helped me in my career. Thank you so much for all that you’ve done — I only hope I can return the favour sometime in the future.
You listened to me, no matter how loud I got, because you knew that I just needed to be heard. You were patient with me, even if I didn’t care. And you gave me second chances no matter how many times I screwed up. I was lucky to have you as a teacher, and then I was even luckier to have you as a mentor. Thank you for everything that you’ve invested in me.
Thank you for the laughs, for the cries, and for everything in between. Thank you for being my rock, my anchor; for keeping me grounded when I feel like I might otherwise blow away. Thank you for all of the things you do, big and small. Thank you for knowing my favourite ice-cream flavour and what song I would die for. Thank you for always knowing what to say and for being one of life’s best teachers. Thank you for making fun of me when I deserve it, and for loving me when I don’t. Thank you for staying constant in a world full of change, and for keeping some normalcy in a world full of chaos. Thank you for setting the bar so high and making it impossible to find another friend and teacher as good as you. Thank you for being the person I can comfortably confide in and, when I do, thank you for all the advice and empathy you provide me with. Thank you for sharing in my happiest moments, for listening to my saddest stories, and for telling me when I’m being stupid without fear that I will get upset. Thank you for being the only person who will tell me the truth no matter how hard it may be to say.
I treasure the things you say and the loving acceptance I feel whenever we talk. Thank you, Alexander Graham Bell, for inventing the telephone, and thank you, Sir, for the times we share on it. Perhaps the only solace in a time of difficulty is the reminder of unending love in the form of family, and you’re more than family. You will always be with me. I may have been a kid when we first met, but even now, I think of you when something great happens because I want to tell you. I think of you when I am reminded of a lesson you taught me. I think of you when I make most decisions, because I always wonder what you would do in such a situation. I promise you that your legacy will forever live on in me. Thank you for every hug, lesson, smile, piece of advice, and vote of encouragement. I also will forever admire your integrity. You’re my “once in a lifetime” person (teacher and friend). You were never “just a teacher.” You’ve forever cemented a place in my heart that can never be replaced. I should have told you all of this every day, but I just assumed you knew. You were and always will be my hero. Thank you for the absolute privilege and honour of being able to call you my teacher. Thank you for giving me these reasons, and a million more, to be thankful for. Thank you for narrating my favourite story to me.
The story: “Sohni, the protagonist, is the daughter of a potter. One day a rich trader visits her father’s shop and is completely smitten by Sohni. In order to win Sohni’s love, he helps Sohni’s family in grazing the buffalos, hence earning the name Mahiwal (buffalo herder). He finally earns Sohni’s love by his efforts. Sohni’s parents marry her away to someone else, though. Mahiwal renounces the world and lives as a fakir (hermit) in a hut across the Chenab river from Sohni’s new home.
“To meet Mahiwal, every night Sohni crosses the Chenab river with the help of an inverted cooked clay pot to swim. Soon rumours spread about Sohni-Mahiwal’s romantic rendezvous. One day, Sohni’s sister-in-law secretly replaced the baked clay pot with an unbaked clay pot to put an end to that nuisance. That night, when Sohni tried to cross the Chenab river, the unbaked clay pot inevitably dissolved in the water. She started drowning. Mahiwal who was seeing this from the other side of the river jumped in to try and save Sohni. Alas, both drowned and died, only to be united after death.”
Thank you for teaching me, “Kacchiyaan da hunda kacha anjaam ni; Eh gal aam ni”. (The unsound can only reach an unsound end; this is a truth known to all).

Thank you for everything. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Yours,

Sobia Khatoon
(Your forever tocopherol)

Sobia Khatoon is a bachelor’s student at Aligarh Muslim University. sobiakhatoon65@gmail.com

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