It was their first class. But it was mine all over again too. I had a debut class every year. Sometimes I felt I’m not a teacher. I am a singer performing to a live audience. I have to impress everybody at the first go. If I want them to hum to my tunes that is. Do I want that is another interesting question. Well, I want them to listen to me in any case.
There are many who’ve told me that getting them to follow you is not easy. But I think getting them to listen to me is more difficult. They are no longer Nursery kids after all. They are grown up adults in college. So whatever I say or whatever the others have to say, they have the right to pick their choice. I just had to be their choice. And the thought made me and my palms sweat.
When I entered the class, barely half of it was occupied. I didn’t know if this should make me happy or sad. I chose to be none. I took a seat and announced that we would shut the gates in ten minutes flat. It was as if the other half of the class walked-in in those ten minutes.
After a perfunctory round of introductions, I was just about to introduce to them the beautiful world of Elizabethan literature, when a knock on the door interrupted us. I was in thought again. I did not want to be Hitler. But then I did not want the students to walk over me as well. I used the fact, that it was my first class, as the excuse.
The door was opened to reveal a fairly interested girl, panting her lungs out. ‘Can I come in Sir? Please. I am sorry I am late. I just couldn’t wake up on time. Please let me in. I really want to sit for the lecture. I don’t even attendance sir. Please. Please. Please!”
She said so much in just one breath that it almost made me laugh. I signaled her to sit down. It was perhaps that enthusiasm that helped me infuse the passion for words into them that morning.
I let the doors of my class remain open that day. And have let them remain open for every class since then. And here have been so many more times when such students have reminded me of my reason of being there. They have instilled in me the excitement that got me to teaching in the first place.
Perhaps it is the ventilation from the door that doesn’t let me sweat anymore. Or maybe the fear is gone. After all, all I want them to do is to listen.