Life does not come with a manual. Most of us need someone to guide us through the initial phase of life.
I was lucky to have some very good teachers as my guide.
One of Kabeer's doha says:
Guru Govind Dono Khade, Kako Lagoon Paay,
Balihari Guru Aapki, Jin Govind Diyo Batay.
When I was in school, i was made to learn this. And if i can remember correctly what it means is:
“Kabir says, if teacher and God both are standing before him, he will first bow to his teacher and not to God". And he explains why.
Now for most of my life I have been an atheist. So I never had to choose between God and anyone else. But if I have to choose someone as God, I will opt for my parents and/or my teachers. This teacher’s day, I pay my respect to some of my teachers.
I was born in Rairangpur, a small town in Mayurbhanj district in the Indian state of Orissa. Now, 26 years later, I am working for a multinational company. I would not say success has already kissed me, as there are plenty of things that I still need to achieve. But whatever I have become today is the result of many factors.
We all meet many teachers/professors during our school/college days. We love to bunk classes, make fun of them. And we hardly ever like to listen to them. But sometimes we come across someone special and few things in life changes. We probably do not realize the change at that very moment. But when we look back to our school/College days, we always remember them with smile and gratitude.
Now I have been lucky to have been tutored by some great teachers. I probably do not remember them for what they taught me, but I will always be indebted to them for making me believe in myself. It’s not what they taught made them special, but it’s how they taught.
I went to school (Sri Aurobindo Integral Education Centre) only because my parents got me enrolled. But I was only 4 then. Was I supposed to know what happens in school? My overall performance was average. I made some friends. (I am still in touch with few of them)
There was one guy who was very smart, hardworking. He always used to come first in everything, be is academics, quiz or sports. Then this happened. One of the teachers (Patra Sir) told that guy, you may be better than Lalit (that’s me) today, but mark my words "one day Lalit will be more successful than you". I never knew what prompted him to say this, but that was a huge confidence booster for me. There was someone who showed more faith in me, than I had in myself. For the records, that smart guy is still way ahead of me and I wish him all the best. I hope someday my teacher’s word will come true. But competing with him is not what I want, and also I realize this is not what my teacher must have meant.
After I passed class V, I needed to change my school. The choice for new school was not a tough one. There were only 3 schools in my town for class VI onwards. And all of them taught till class X. Out of these 3, one was for girls only. To make the choice even simpler, I have not even heard of one of them, and my two elder brothers were already studying in the other one. So I ended up in Rairangpur High school.
In class VI, Mr. Munindra Nath Parida came as math teacher. I went to him for my private tuitions as well. Now everyone knows the saying "you can take the horse to water, but you cannot make it drink". But he made me drink. It was him, who actually ignited the fire in me. It was him who taught the value of education in life. I owe him lot for making me what I am today.
For class VIII-X, I went to Mr. Kali Prasanna Mohanta for my private tuitions. What I learnt from him is -- Yes Education is important in life, But it’s not everything, and you learn only when you enjoy it. Best part, he never made me mug up any formulae, he encouraged to figure out a way so that it strikes you, rather than just mugging it up.
Anyways, I wrote Xth exams, and passed with dissent marks. And the need was now to search for a college.There was only one in the town. And my marks in Xth were not good enough to get me admitted to any other better colleges outside my town. And I joined Rairangpur college for my XIIth (+2).
But before I could join College, I needed to decide the stream I wanted to join. We had options of Science, Commerce, Arts. Now if your marks are good you take Science, if average than Commerce and bad then Arts. That’s how the streams are decided in my town and it hardly depends on personal choice. My marks were good enough to get me a seat in Science. One of my elder brothers was already in science and the other in commerce. But my elder brother and father decided I will not be able to tackle the pressure of science, and hence I should be joining Commerce. And I agreed.
Then entered Mr. Kishore Behera. He somehow convinced my father to get me enrolled into science. He has never met me before. And his reasons were simple, if he does not do well; he can always switch to commerce in +3. One more incident of someone else having more faith in me than I had in myself. Later I went to him for private Chemistry classes. He was one of the very few teachers in the town who actually cared to teach things that were being taught to other students in better colleges.
I always loved Mathematics. I was fond of solving problems. I loved the very funda of Calculus, 2/3-D geometry, equations, and numbers. But I hated one particular topic, “Probability”. One particular day i got so fed up, I just I told my math teacher, Mr. Hemanta Giri, I cannot do these sums and it’s a waste of time for me to try and solve them as I will never be able to solve them. Then came his reply. Which I will never ever forget in life. He simply told me: "Lalit If you think, You cannot do these sums and you do not understand these sums, Then it’s better for me to stop teaching this. If I cannot make you understand, there is no one in the entire college who will understand this". I don’t remember what my reaction was. I almost went blank. Here is one more teacher who has more belief in me than I have in myself.
This is how the college years came to an end. Then I joined Vellore Institute of Technolgy for my B-Tech. But by then, I had full confidence in me. I saw people from all part of India from some very good colleges there, and I told myself I might have come from a small place and yet I am there rubbing shoulders with them. So there is no need for me to be afraid of anyone. But it was because of all those teachers who have helped me develop all that confidence in me. And how I performed in VIT, well all my friends know about it.
Thank you Sir, I will always be indebted to all of you.