By Zeenat Iqbal Hakimjee.
SHE was more like a parent. This I was to discover later. At the start of the class she stood before her students and the class buzzed with “Absent Miss!” and “Present Miss!” as she marked the attendance register. School was a humdrum affair. I must admit that I would get out of bed with great difficulty. My mom woke me up at the stroke of seven. I longed for an extra half hour on my warm cozy bed. But she wouldn’t allow it. She came up to my room twice and sometimes thrice to make sure that I had gotten out of bed.
“I do not want to go to school today,” I would tell her.
“Nothing doing”, she would say. The teacher with the spectacles perched on her nose seemed strict in the beginning. I discovered later that she was just the opposite. Science was taught to class V students and that’s why I too had to study it no matter how much I hated the subject. I just couldn’t make heads or tails of what the teacher was saying.
I was not a clever student but was rated as being average. Sometimes my results left much to be desired. Each time my report card was sent home to be signed, I was scolded and put to shame. Having a clever older brother didn’t do much to improve my position at home. I played truant from school many times. I was somehow not very keen to go. And so I would spend the day in a park close to my home.
“Today I was scolded by my parents for not bringing better results”. I told a friend.
The parents had arranged for a tutor. They were to realize later that this was not to make much of a difference. The other day a child psychologist in a television programme said many things about parent-child relationships. I wondered why my parents didn’t do what she said. Maybe they weren’t as smart. She said that parents should praise their child if they do a good deed. They should not scold the children in front of their friends.
One day, I told my teacher about my brother. I told her that he was smarter than me. And my parents did not let both of us forget this. The next day, I was surprised to see my teacher stay back after school. Her husband came to pick her up but she refused to leave. Instead she called me to her side and from that day onwards she made it a point to coach me personally.
One day I went with her to the park for a stroll and it was there that she explained to me the importance of parents. She made me realize that parents were seldom wrong, making me see the logic behind their arguments. She gave me the confidence that I lacked. It was she who made me a stronger person. The two words, school and teacher, that had been of no importance to me a short time ago, slowly become the center of my life. And I became completely engrossed in my studies. We were nearing the end of the term and our exams started soon.
At least this time I was not frightened. I clung to the result card in my hand. My heart fluttered as I made my way home. My mother could not help being surprised upon seeing my grades. She quickly rang up my father to share the news with him. He came back home beaming and holding a parcel under his arm. It was a cake to celebrate my success. But I knew it was more like my teacher’s success. It was she who had shown me what it meant to have a purpose in life. She had given up her hours of rest to teach me.
Zeenat Iqbal Hakimjee is a housewife and grandmother and also educated. She didn’t want to waste her education so she started writing an art that she inherited from her late father Ahmed Jivanjee a well known writer of Karachi.