It is not said in jest that unless we are deprived of something, we do not realise its importance.
She was the first target of our pranks. From ridiculing her for her famous quote, “Open the windows, let the atmosphere come in” to mocking her for her unscrupulous use of the English language and its grammar.
On her way to school Wednesday morning, she was deprived of her life in a road accident. A result of a trivial competition between two public buses to bag the most passengers. For perhaps just ten rupees, the consequence was the loss of a priceless life. The person I am referring is our now-deceased teacher, Mrs. Sikha Roy.
“Open the windows, let the atmosphere come in.”
“Eeh, give me a red pen on any colour, toh”.
“Yeah, why are you vibrating all through the corridor?”
Until half past ten in the morning on Wednesday, these sentences were what we students used to ridicule our teacher. By the end of the day, they were memories long lost in the memoirs of the our hearts, our school, her colleagues, and everyone else near to her.
Had this been a natural death, or a death due to a disability or disease, none of us would have probably been so freaked out. We are because her life was not given up, it was taken away.
Taken away when the only ‘mistake’ she did was cross the road at the wrong moment, on her way to her temple of profession.
After the horrific news was announced in school, everything changed. In class, I noticed most of us had an open mouth gaping in surprise at this painful truth. There was an eerie atmosphere all about the whole school.
Our playful shouts were replaced with controlled conversations, the disorder in the assembly hall with self-discipline, the chaos in our classes with order unasked for, teachers used to reproaching students unable to hold back emotions, students used to chattering while going up the stairs fell silent.
While we went up the stairs from an impromptu prayer service, I was hit hard when I suddenly realised that all noises and sounds had ceased but one: shoes stamping on the concrete stairs.
All this speaks for itself.
She was a computer teacher, and the people in school who were the most hit hard were our other two computer teachers. While in our Computer Practical class in the computer lab, in his state of absent-mindedness, our teacher unconsciously dropped a whole lot of files on the floor.
I can scarcely imagine the shock that five our teachers who went to identify her deceased body at the hospital must have felt.
There she was, laughing and joking the previous day, interacting with students, once again being the target our our pranks and jokes, now frozen motionless. Forever.
I particularly recall one such incident when I was in Class 6 three years in the past. She was our General Science teacher then.
“Ma’am, what balance is used to measure the mass of an object?”
“The mass of an object? Aare, that thing, eh, Kishaloy, what is that called in English, that ‘daripalla’ ?”
“Ma’am, beam balance.”
“Yes, beam balance. Mass is measured with beam balance. You know, I had forgotten the name in English, that’s why I asked Kishaloy to name it.”
While going down to the Computer lab that day, I peered into another Section of Class 9 which should have been having a Computer Theory class. She was not there.
I offer my consolations to her near and dear ones. Life must go on.