Baba: A Teacher By Passion Article

By: Dr. Ravindra Sharma
         Lecturer & Environmentalist,Neemkathana

Baba was my father's childhood friend.  During their teenage he and my father used to eat, play and exercise together. They would ride camels while going to the fields. They trusted each other without reservation. There was between them a certain concurrence of views. And that indeed is the basis of true friendship.

Baba was very diligent during his military services. He was honest, punctual and devoted to his duties as well. His behaviour, principles and methods of working were appreciated everywhere.

 Many times he got opportunities to make money unfairly, but he never did so. He helped many employees (to) get transfer to their preferred stations, but never accepted any gifts or money in the form of bribe. Even all the wealth of the world could not shake his honesty. He condemned all forms of corruption, including bribery, adultery and deception. He never told a lie.  He was a man of words and had unshakable faith in religion i.e. truth.

Baba had deep faith in Indian scriptures and their doctrines. He followed the "principle of Karma".   “This is our karma bhoomi (land of actions). We have all come here to perform our 'karmas'. Some do good deeds and depart; others do bad deeds and depart. It is one’s present actions which culminate into one’s destiny; therefore one must always do good deeds in order to have good results. Moreover, one must bear the fruits of one’s deeds in this very life or the next ones", he would say.

Baba came to his village after retiring from the military services and settled there permanently. He was respected highly in the village. He made people aware of the ill effects of alcohol and smoking. He explained to them how alcohol causes harm to a person, family, society and country. Due to his inspiration, many people gave up alcohol forever; others diminished it.

 Baba was a man of letters yet he did not have the least of pride. Nor was he interested in politics. He was a strict disciplinarian and possessed a high moral character.
Baba played a vital role as a pioneer of the educational revolution in our village. He was very sad to know that there was a terrific fear of English in the students' minds. Due to that, most of the students failed in the examinations and discontinued their studies. He considered that most of the problems of a society might be eradicated through education; so, it was essential that the inhabitants should be educated.

Afterwards, Baba declared that he was eager to teach English to students gratis.  He himself started meeting the villagers and inspired their children to learn English. Due to his sincere efforts, many students started coming to him to study.

Since Baba wanted to strengthen the foundation of all the students in English, he explained each point thoroughly. But the students were not interested enough to learn English. They were more concerned about getting through the supplementary or main examination than improving English.  Baba helped them improve their handwriting as well.  His own handwriting was also one of the best handwritings in the world.

Although Baba's profession had never been teaching yet he had a strong passion for it.   All the qualities of an ideal teacher such as expert communication skills, superior listening skills, deep knowledge and passion for the subject matter and strong work ethic could be observed in him.

Having settled in the village, Baba encouraged me also to learn English during his daily visits to our home.  He explained to me that English had emerged to be the most significant language and that it would help me a lot survive in the changing world.  He used to explain the translation of some sentences of different patterns from Hindi to English every day. After he had left, I myself would frame hundreds of sentences using those patterns and get them checked by him the next day.

His inspiration can also be gauged from the fact that I used to collect the wrappers of some daily consumable items like soap, toothpaste, biscuits, calendars, etc. and write down the information mentioned on them e.g. details of components, instructions, manufacturing, etc. and then, I would classify it grammatically and lexically.

Like other rural children, I was also not very particular in observing etiquettes.I had a bit of stupidity as well. I was totally emotional and lacked the requisite practical knowledge. Despite my shortcomings, Baba loved me very much. He also helped me develop my personality. He wanted to make me a successful person in the arenas of both academia and humanity. Therefore, at times he would impart moral education to me. He subscribed to the monthly magazine, ‘Kalyan’ published by Geeta Press and many times he would give me it for reading. Not only so, at times I would receive the English magazine, “Ex-servicemen" from him and go through it enthusiastically. Its slogan “They sacrificed their today for our tomorrow” still echoes in my ears.   I remember once he started subscribing to the "Hindustan Times" for my sake instead of his most favourite newspaper, the "Punjab Keshari".

Apart from books, Baba taught us the lessons of honesty, truthfulness, dutifulness, benevolence and personal hygiene. He himself wore clean white Kurta and Pyjama and lived a completely simple life. He opposed the fashion and ostentatiousness of the Western culture. He insisted on the ideal of "simple living and high thinking.  Moreover, perhaps he was the first person in our village who got a lavatory built at his home to convey the message of cleanliness

One day I asked Baba how he had mastered the English language. Then he said that he was the first person of the village who went to a distant high school for his matriculation.  There he failed in English by 4 marks in the Inter Examination. For this reason, he had to break off his further studies unwillingly.  Then he pledged that he would overcome his weakness regarding the English language and pursue his higher studies.

After joining the military, he resumed his studies as a private student and gained proficiency in the English language by persistent practice. Afterwards, he completed his graduation and an LL.B. in the English medium. Thus, he proved that no work is impossible in the world. Any goal can be achieved with confidence, consistent practice, proper strategy and tireless efforts….

On the Teacher's Day  I express my deep sense of gratitude to him and thank him for teaching me lessons that I will carry throughout my life's journey  and giving me fond memories that I will treasure forever. (This is an excerpt from "The Portrait of a Gentleman" in which the author fondly remembers and shows his reverence for his teacher and mentor Capt.R.D.Sharma (HuriyaKalan, Neemrana, Alwar).

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