I dedicate this post of myself to my English teacher, Shri Surendra Kumar Mishra who taught me English during my schooling days (class IX and class X). I have had my formal education till graduation in Hindi medium in a govt. school at my native place, Sambhar Lake, a small town in Rajasthan. I had seen that most of the students having their education through that system, used to be weak in English. Reason ? The teachers themselves did not have the requisite knowledge of English. However despite all my misfortunes, one good fortune came my way when Mishra Ji became my English teacher in class IX. The subject English had always fascinated me and in my class VIII exam., I had scored 189 marks out of 200 in English. However my knowledge of English was neither correct nor sufficient before I came into his contact. Fortunately, his youngest son, Akhilesh was my best childhood buddy, so the link was there from that angle too.
I entered class IX in 1982 which was the predecessor to the Board exam called the Secondary School Exam. Mishra Ji immediately identified my talent and started paying special attention to me. Other than teaching in the class, he started teaching me at home too whenever he used to teach his own son (my friend and classmate). I also got impressed with him, particularly because I found that he was a learner first, a teacher later. And because he was a great learner, ever ready to identify and admit his errors and thereafter rectify them without any sense of shame or any kind of ego problem; that’s why he was a great teacher. Yes, it is the biggest lesson for anybody who wants to become a great teacher that first of all, he/she should become a great learner.
Mishra Ji was a teacher of a very low grade (in terms of the pay grade). However he was given the responsibility to teach higher classes because of his great knowledge and expertise. Under his guidance, I not only learnt English but also started loving this language. The text books (called the Course Reader and the Rapid Reader) were also containing very interesting chapters but the most important thing was that the teacher was a brilliant one.
Before I appeared in my board exam (class X, called the Secondary School Exam) in 1984, Mishra Ji forecast for my securing a position in the merit list. And his faith came true. I stood 2nd in the merit list. Next year, in class XI (in those days, 10+2 system was not there in the Rajasthan Board and class XI was the Senior Secondary or the Higher Secondary Exam after passing which the student could enter the college), he no longer remained my teacher. But I continued to be taught by him at home. In 1985, I topped the Rajasthan Board in the Higher Secondary Exam but when my marks-sheet came, everyone was startled to see my marks in the English subject. I had scored 49 out of 50. I frankly told everybody that it was because of my great teacher Mishra Ji only.
Mishra Ji always stressed the knowledge of structures and later on when I myself taught English to the son of my boss in my job in 1993 (my boss had requested me to do that), I also stressed the same thing in my teaching to him. I explained to my student that if we give the English language the analogy of a human body, then the knowledge of structures is to be understood as the skeleton and the knowledge of the vocabulary is to be understood as the remaining part of the body (consisting of skin, flesh, blood and the like). Hence first the skeleton should be in appropriate shape and a strong one, thereafter only the remaining part of the body can develop and show its worth.
I formally studied English for the last time in my B. Com first year. However after completing my B.Com in 1988, when circumstances led me to Kolkata (then Calcutta) and I joined C.A., I had to take a decision regarding the medium of my exam. Mishra Ji’s teaching gave me confidence to go for English medium. I passed C.A. in my maiden attempt and in the C.A. (Inter.) Exam, I ranked 8th in the All India Ranking List of successful candidates. After becoming a C.A., I joined service in a private sector company. However after a few years, I attempted at the Indian Civil Services, again opting for English as the medium of taking my exam and the viva as well. I could not be finally selected but cleared the main exam and appeared in the viva in April 1998.
Since then my life has taken many more twists and turns and I have changed several places. Presently I am in Hyderabad among the Telugu speaking people. However I am able to interact with the non-Hindi speaking executives and staff very easily because I am well-versed with English. My creative skills led me to become an amateur writer. Because of my love for my mother tongue Hindi, I write in Hindi and I have written many Hindi articles, plays and stories. However on various platforms, I have got the opportunity to write in English and the popularity of my reviews speaks for the strength of Mishra Ji’s teaching which has taken strong roots in my brains.
After losing touch with my hometown after the sad demise of my father in 2003, I lost touch with Misha Ji also. Despite being an English teacher, he commanded immense knowledge of Hindi, Urdu and Sanskrit too. Above all, he was not at all proud and his modesty and politeness was an example for the others to follow.
On the occasion of the Teachers’ Day, I pay my greatest regards and heart-grown tribute to that ideal teacher. His life demonstrates how a teacher commands respect. An ideal teacher need not have to strive for students’ respect. It comes to him/her on its own.
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