teacher’s day and onam. hmmm any connection? those who know me could take a guess… but first. A tribute. (I must add that there are others who deserve tribute but for now…)
Oommen Mathew first impressed me with his sense of comic timing. How else do you get a class of 120 to laugh by just writing out your name? Maybe it was just the rustic Malayalee accent. I’ve heard many Mal accents and many of them grate but some can be musical. Oommen’s accent was just that. We loved it. What is it that makes you love a teacher? Brilliant exposition of ancient poetic texts? Maybe. The brain the size of the planet which towers over the shrubs of our poor intellect? Maybe. The pure clarity of thought and speech? Maybe. Being lax with attendance? Maybe. I don’t really remember Oommen for these things.
It was the way he treated us. Everytime we met him whether in college or after we finished studying it was always a pleasant surprise for him to meet us. Not that the day was already bad and we were like relief to him. Nope… it just was that the day seemed to have gotten better for Oommen by meeting us. Of course the rebellious streak in him was something that all students related to. For years Oommen’s scooter was a lone feature of the Christ college drive way. An old Bajaj, standing proudly away from all the other vehicles doomed to servility and indistinctive commonness.
If there was any one thing I remember about Oommen it simply this. He treated each one of us as a human being. I wish to be like him however much I fail.
Another teacher who I wish to be like brings the Onam connection. Onam: a celebration of the return of Mahabali the good king to visit his people from the depths of the earth. There was a king like that. Who went down to the depths only to return. A brilliant teacher too. ‘Be as cunning as serpents and innocent as doves’ he said. I don’t know what it really means. But… he not only treats me as a human being but gives me my true humanity.
Happy Teacher’s day Onam everybody.