In the past, on the occasion of the Teacher’s Day, I had posted a blog, paying my tribute to my English teacher, Shri Surendra Kumar Mishra who had laid a strong foundation for my knowledge of the English language. In that blog, I had written that after the sad demise of my father in 2003, I could not meet him for a long time. After several years, in March 2011, I visited my hometown due to a death in the family and could meet him. I was glad to find him hale and hearty even at the age of 70 plus. We discussed a lot of things including Cricket which was his passion (it was all the more relevant at that time because the Cricket World Cup was in progress). I came to know about his will to read a Hindi book – Raag-Viraag (a book regarding the work of prominent Hindi poet – Nirala).
When I was back, I arranged a copy of the book and sent it to him. Since India had won the Cricket World Cup by that time, we shared the joy over phone and I just hoped to see him again. Alas, that time could not come and a couple of meetings with my ideal teacher that took place in March 2011 after several years, proved to be my last meetings with him. In the night of 9th February, 2012, I got a call from his youngest son and my childhood buddy, Akhilesh that Mishra Ji was no more.
Akhilesh told me that he had fallen sick and sensing the arrival of his death, had expressed a desire to be cremated on the bank of the river Ganges. To fulfill his last desire, the grief-stricken family members had taken his body to a place situated on the bank of the river Ganges (somewhere in Uttar Pradesh) and the funeral got carried out there. After returning back home, Akhilesh gave me a call to pass on the sad news.
Myself, the boy whom he taught English with utmost sincerity, could only recall with emotion the time spent with him during my adolescence. Had it not for his teaching, I would have found myself among those countless Rajasthani students who remain weak in the knowledge of the English language due to lack of proper and correct teaching. Himself, despite being a very low grade teacher, used to teach English to higher classes only due to his superior knowledge of the subject. Very shortly, I became his favourite student and he became my favourite teacher.
His teachings aroused such an interest in me to learn English that English became my favourite subject too which I studied out of sheer interest and not just to cover the syllabus and pass the examination. That passion led to my scoring 49 marks out of 50 in English in my Higher Secondary Examination in 1985 in which I topped the merit list of the Rajasthan Board. Due to lack of practice, my spoken English had to be not-so-strong but written English became stout and I opted for English medium for my C.A. course as well as the attempts at the Indian Civil Services Exam. with confidence.
Not only me, he was instrumental in laying a strong foundation of the knowledge of English for several students (including many of my friends). He always stressed the need to strengthen the knowledge of structures by doing more and more exercises (he called it drill). I took a cue from his teaching only when, after many years, I got the opportunity to teach English to the son of my boss in my job. I taught my student that the English language is just like a human body with the knowledge of the structures being the skeleton and the vocabulary being the remaining part. To sustain and utilize the vocabulary properly, the knowledge of the structures is to be strengthened first. Just like me, numerous students of his might be remembering himself and his teachings. Now his body is not there but the knowledge that he spread will always remain alongwith the fragrant memories of the time spent with him.
He was a learner first, a teacher later and I grasped this fact from his personality only that one should remain a learner throughout his life. He was an ideal teacher because the learner aspect of his personality was always active. He never showed any reluctance in admitting his errors and correcting them. And that only makes a great teacher.
The lamp has blown out but the light that it has spread, remains.
May his soul rest in peace.
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(the link of my old blog dedicated to Mishra Ji is :