This title might sound too harsh but with all the strife in the world, I am only forced to believe that had these dreaded terrorists who shed blood of innocents, got the shade from the umbrella of a teacher, they would definitely have not tread the path of terror. On the Teacher’s Day, I learnt two important things. It proved that we can learn from teachers around us day in and day out. We might not know that the person is a formal teacher or not, but if we are part of a good environment, life teaches us something daily if we keep our eyes, ears, nose and heart open. On September 4, at 1.30 afternoon, St Peter’s square in Vatican was brimming with over 4-lakh people witnessing the canonisation of Mother Teresa, an ordinary woman who taught the world what compassion coupled with unselfish character could do to the world. On one side of the spectrum, terrorists in thousands are killing people in Paris, India, Pakistan, the USA and the UK and so on. We do not remember the faces of these terrorists . We detest them, for these deeds and throughout our lives we hate them. On the other, a lady in white with wrinkled face, Mother Teresa, remains in our memory with no negative connotation. Single-handedly she taught the world how to save and serve lives that have been rejected by the society.
Such is the power of her persona. Saint Teresa, you taught me to serve mankind and have inspired millions who throng to Missionaries of Charity to be a part of universal brotherhood. The second learning is more bizarre, but thought provoking one. For those who know me, I am a voracious movie goer and am found at malls on Sundays. Like every Sunday, I, along with my family, was at Magneto Mall in the evening after having just returned from a tour. As I entered I saw a teacher’s day celebration happening at the mall, the kind that felicitates teachers one day in a year. The organiser saw me, coerced me to speak a few unscheduled words and I continued with my journey to the movie. After the movie late in the evening we were looking for a place in the restaurants but there were serpentine queues of hungry people. As we rejected each option of waiting for food, we reached a new joint “Dialogue in the dark” or “Taste of darkness”, just opened and had a black decor with a girl waiting to welcome us. Having no option, we asked her what it was.
She told us that you could either feel an exhibition of darkness or have food in the darkness. Seemed interesting! We entered into the venue and a guide asked me to put a hand on his shoulder and my family followed suit. In pitch darkness, we took some serpentine turns and reached a place where I could feel a table and our guide Ram Prakash (RP) made us feel our chairs and sit. He kept chatting with us on how this German concept of experiencing darkness was doing well in 38 countries and how he was trained to walk in the darkness. While his endless chatter was intriguing to my wife, my thoughts had trailed into how we could have lived without light. No light giving instrument was allowed in the restaurant. So we had no mobiles, not any light except a few red camera lights faintly visible. There were night vision cameras watching us to avoid any nuisance in the darkness. The food came and RP took our hands to the plate and asked us to guess the soup and the starter before disclosing. We were using our other senses to the fullest with our sight being incapacitated.
A totally new experience! RP deftly walked through the darkness to a sound from the counter and brought some pre-plated food, water etc. I wondered what training they would have provided. At the end of the meal, he casually told us that the policy of the restaurant was to “hire blind boys” because they could handle darkness better. This statement hit me like a bolt. All this while, a specially-abled boy was showing us the world in darkness, guiding us, feeding us, serving us and entertaining us. We did not realise that in darkness. He had the strength to teach us. How weak our senses are that if one of them is taken away, we become totally helpless. Ram Prakash told us that when we exit the door to the world of light, we could see him but he could not see us. My day was made by a Saint and a specially-abled boy. Both of them showed me the way. Happy Teacher’s Day to both, and all the teachers who taught us about life, formally or informally.
*Dr. Jawahar Surisetti is well know Educationist & Motivator