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Sunday, 10 September 2017

Old teacher, new lessons

Raju stared at the building and the board that said National High School. It was the same board and the school too looked exactly the same. But Raju was a changed person.

He had left school with so many hopes. And what had happened? He had failed. He had lost the money he had invested in his company. All that remained was his company, which would soon be defunct.

Why had he come to his old school? No one knew him here and coming here wasn’t going to help.

“Hello,” someone called out.

Raju turned, surprised. The school vacations were on and he hadn’t expected to see anyone.

Dejected

When he saw who it was, Raju’s heart sank. It was Ganapathy sir, the strictest teacher in school. Perhaps, Raju thought hopefully, the teacher wouldn’t recognise him. But Ganapathy sir was staring at him.

“Weren’t you a student here?” he asked. “About twenty years back?”

Raju nodded. “What do you do now?” Ganapathy sir asked.

What could he tell his teacher? But Ganapathy sir was waiting, so Raju said, “I worked for a few years, then invested in a company...” “It’s doing well, I hope?” Ganapathy sir asked.

“Actually...” Raju said, “No. It is not doing well at all. I may have to shut it down and lose everything!”

There, he thought, he had said it out loud. But sir didn’t seem to think this was the end of the world. “Very sad, very sad,” he said, shaking his head.

“But you can always work hard and get your company back!”

“That’s impossible!” Raju said.

“No, don’t think it’s impossible!” Ganapathy sir said. “It is possible...” He exclaimed suddenly, “You never did tell me your name!”

“Rajashekhar Varadarajan,” said Raju.

“Aha! The-Boy-Who-Could-Do-Anything!” Ganapathy sir said. He looked with greater interest at Raju and said, “That’s what we called you, you know, in the staff room!”

“You should change it to the Man-Who-Can’t-Do-Anything!” Raju said bitterly.

“No, no,” Ganapathy sir said. “You can’t tell me what to call you. You see,” he looked at Raju seriously, “an old teacher remembers things from your past. And you will always be the boy who was meant to do great things, achieve the impossible!”

Raju stared at his old teacher.

“In fact,” Ganapathy sir said dreamily, “I think you can still do anything you want to!”

Raju nodded, his thoughts confused. What did Ganapathy sir mean? Could it be that...? Was it possible that...?

“Goodbye, sir,” he said abruptly.

“Come again,” Ganapathy sir called out, “if you need anything.”

Raju knew he would not need to. Twenty years after he had left school, his teacher had still managed to teach him something new.

Ganapathy sir had taught him to look carefully, look closely at himself. And now, Raju was determined to find and be that Rajashekhar Vardarajan, the Boy-Who -Could-Do-Anything.



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