At the local grocery store, I heard he owner Ali bhai screaming at someone. I was least bothered to look at who it was, but then I realised I knew this person, or at least this voice. When I finished with my purchases and turned around, I was shocked to see my English teacher from school. He was wearing a white kurta, which was now almost yellow. He looked different from the time I’d met him six years ago. I thought of going up to him but my legs didn’t move. Perhaps it was because I was dressed shabbily that day or that I didn’t want to spoil my relationship with Ali bhai.
On the way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about him. He was the best teacher in town. For him, teaching was not just a profession; he taught us lessons of life too. He spent all his salary in helping the poor. He was one of the reasons for my success.I made up my mind to meet him so, the next day, I woke up early, ran to the store and bought sweets spending all my pocket money.
But when I went to his house, I learnt that he had been admitted at the hospital because his condition was critical; he was a cancer patient. I ran to the hospital and learnt that he was in the ICU. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I met my old school friends — Ravi, Jeeva, Nixon, Bhargav… everybody was there. I felt more confident about my teacher’s condition now. The moment the doctor said we could meet him, we rushed in. We spend all day talking with him.
When we were about to leave, he joked, “Vamsi, will you meet me again or do I need to be in hospital again?” At night I thought about him and how, in his last days, he still continued to teach the simple lessons of life.
Y.V. VAMSI BHARADWAJ St. Joseph’s College of Engineering
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