I grew up learning that one of the most important part of being an Indian is to respect my teachers. After all it was said that matha, pitha, guru, daivam (father, mother, teacher and then God). As a child growing up in a staunch Syrian Christian family, it was really shocking to accept that my teachers were more important than God himself. But I had to and my teachers were almost like god to me.
I remember going to Chengannur house with my father and as we were walking on the bund road, Appa noticed his teacher walking towards us. Appa, stopped walking, unfolded his mundu, held my hand firmly and told me to behave and then moved to the side of the road. This particular bund road was wide enough for a bullock cart, but still my father stood to the side. His teacher was a very old man and yet he wielded such a tremendous power..to make a 6 foot 2 tall guy to stand like a little lamb ! Appa greeted the teacher the traditional way by folding his hand and said “namaskaram, sir”
I can still see the joy in the teacher’s eyes. And they talked, not like friends, but as a teacher and student. After we said good bye to the teacher, as we walked home, my father told me about how strict this teacher used to be and how many times he caned my father. I was 6 years old and I never understood then how you could respect someone who physically hurt you. But my father did. He even paid for his teacher’s medical bill another time when we went home.
A few weeks after we moved to Canada, the school had a Pyjama day, where the students came to school in their Pyjamas. I wasn’t sure, how to handle that, so I packed spare clothes for Yaya in her school bag for that ‘just in case’ scenario. But the biggest surprise was, as we entered the school we were greeted by the principal..and he was in his pyjamas. It was such a shock for me..Until then, the teachers in my life occupied a space that was bit above human. No teacher of mine would ever wear pyjamas to school.. even if it is a pyjama day.
Yesterday, Yaya had musical at school and halfway through, the Principal and the teachers came to the stage dressed like rock stars. The principal wore skin tight leather jeans, wig etc and did a gangnam style dance. She is in her 60’s. ( I swear)
I am actually very confused..Why is it that my teachers never did anything different?