Wandering With Words

Random musings of a reckless soul.


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What teachers make?

Taylor Mali is perhaps best known for his poem “What Teachers Make“. The following poem is perhaps one of the best poems in praise and respect of teachers – the unsung heroes of the education system. It has successfully motivated many teachers, including me, to love what we do, and to do it better, everyday. It is said that the poem was born out of an actual dinner conversation Mali had.

The following illustration by Zen Pencils is my personal favourite as it combines my love for comics and poetry.
2013-07-23-teachersNEWThere are many reasons why I love teaching – Because :

1) I get to share my passion for reading, writing and learning.

2) My students constantly surprise me.

3) I get to see the world from so many different perspectives.

4) I get to learn new things.

5) I touch lives.

And even though I have a big problem with the current education system, I enjoy being a teacher for the love it brings me everyday.

A week ago, a group of students whom I had taught around two years ago called me up and invited me to their farewell party. I had already made some other plans for the day so I politely declined. My phone had no rest that day as there was an influx of calls. I eventually cancelled my other plans and decided to go to the party. And that was a wise decision.

The girls looked oh-so-pretty and the boys, suave. And I felt old. And blessed. And like a celebrity – because they all wanted to click a pic (mostly selfies) with me! 😀

And even though it was not a farewell for me, I was given presents. This brought tears to my eyes.

farewell Class X Mps (1) farewell Class X Mps (3) farewell Class X Mps (4) farewell Class X Mps (6) farewell Class X Mps (7) farewell Class X Mps (8)

So yeah, I love teaching because it is indeed the most satisfying job in the world. 🙂

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Souls on ice.

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I’m a loquacious person by nature. My mouth rarely takes a holiday. But I often fall into the arms of silence when I travel or commute.
Silent, because I’m quieted by that which meets my eyes.

The smile on the face of the child that fell asleep in its mother’s arms.

The couple walking hand in hand in the cold winter night.

The two friends laughing over coffee in the café.

The family of five on a single bike.

The young kid crying for the biggest balloon.

The smell of freshly fried samosas.

Children playing hopscotch in one lane and galli cricket in the other.

The man on the cycle selling cotton candy and kulfi.

Cows and buffaloes crossing the road slowly, very slowly.

Hymns from the temples.

People eating Golgappas.

The crowd that had formed outside the T.V store to watch the cricket match for free.

Rangoli outside houses.

Men pissing on the street. (In my country,kissing on the road is punishable but pissing on the road is allowed!)

Street side salons.

And then, as I stop at the red light, the march of the destitute begin.

The old lady bent double with age.

The man with the crutches.

The little boy with charred hands.

The little girl, selling flowers cheaper than ever.

The old man who says he hadn’t eaten anything since three days.

The light goes green and I move on.
The world changes.
The dark truth meets the eyes. The smile slowly fades.

People sleeping on the pavements, in the cold night. They sleep there season after season, never properly covered.
I wonder how many of them had slept without food.

The drunkard walking home. What problems might he have?

The children making street corners their beds. Would they ever know the comfort of a bed?

The woman scouting the garbage bin for something that she could use. What would she give her children in breakfast?

The old man parking his vegetable wagon at the corner of the road. Did he earn enough to feed his family?

The little huts, which had plastic sheets for roofing. What do those people do during cold nights?

The leper still begging on the street. Did his family abandon him because of the disease?

The young boy, was he a runaway? 

The single tear that ran out was not of sympathy or of pain. It was in gratitude.
Gratitude for everything I have been blessed with.

Isn’t it a blessing? Properly functioning body parts, a presentable face, no fatal disease, three times food, a house to live in and clothes to wear.

If this doesn’t make you feel blessed, and you do not feel a responsibility for the less blessed ones, then, somewhere in you humanity has died.


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Born to Live.

She woke up, rubbed her eyes, realized what day it was and smiled. She hurried up to the terrace and watched the stars fade away and the sun pierce the darkness. The sky was filled with light, and she felt confidence and unbridled joy bubbling in her. As the sun conquered the sky, a smile spread across her face. Would the sunrise ever fail to awe her?

She turned around, feeling special and noticed that the earthen pots of water for the birds were now dry and empty. She filled them up, watered the plants and traipsed back to her room. Her phone lay by the side of her pillow, silent. She had switched it off last night. Leaving it on charging she went to freshen up.

While she made breakfast, she thought about what she would do that day. Mother was happy to see the breakfast ready and blessed her profusely. There was still time to pass before she stepped out of the house, so she went about doing daily chores and reading passages from one of her favourite books.

Finally she left the house. The first place she drove to was the café that served her favourite fudge. She ate it alone and knew that her friends would be so pissed off. But she had to do it- she needed this day to herself. She stayed in the café for another half an hour- watching the traffic outside steadily increase.
There was only one other customer in the café. A young man who sat at the other end, with his back towards her. He had a canvas bag with him – probably a college student. When she went to pay her bill, she paid also for whatever the young man had ordered.

On her way to her next destination, she stopped by a grocery store and bought a pack of toffees and two packs of cream biscuits. When she reached the Jamat khana, she paused. This was one of her favourite places on earth. It was a small building that housed orphans. She hesitated before entering. She hadn’t come there since her father had left. She hesitated because she knew she was now one of them. But she encouraged herself – if not today, then when?

The caretaker hugged her and spoke words of consolation. The kids were in Arabic class. It was a small orphanage cum school managed by an Islamic scholar. There were only fifteen children and each one’s story was unique.
When the class ended the children were just as happy to see her as she was to see them. Perhaps even more. They rarely had any visitors. Sure, the orphanage received generous donations – food, money, clothes – but seldom one’s time.

The caretaker brought tea for her and they all shared the toffees and biscuits. She listened to all their stories, ramblings and their wishes – some of which she would soon fulfill and some which she knew she may never be able to. Soon it was time for her to leave. They asked her to come again and she promised she would. And she meant it.

It was almost evening and she was to return home before it was dark. There was only one place left to go to. The Library.

She went around the aisles searching for a book. She had The Sheltering Sky in mind and was looking for it when something else caught her eye. It was ‘Five Go on a Hike Together’ of The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. She loved The Famous Five, having read those in school. It was perfect for reading that night. She got the book issued and left for home.

On her way she met a woman selling glow-in-the-dark-star stickers at the traffic signal. She bought two sets. After all, a gift was overdue. 🙂

On reaching home, she found her sisters waiting for her with a cake. They had done it in spite of her telling them not to. Family! She cut the cake, exchanged pieces of it and they handed her a list of people who had called on their numbers since her phone was switched off.
By seven in the evening she had retreated to her bedroom and changed into comfortable night clothes. She switched on her phone and started thanking everybody for their wishes.
Friends called up as soon as they saw her online on Whatsapp and told her how she was a mean bitch before wishing her lifelong happiness.

It pleased her most when she saw that among those who had wished her at the strike of 12 were some of her students. Their messages made her feel old but it also made her feel blessed.

After she had returned the wishes, she had a quick supper and sat down with her laptop to watch Rio 2. It made her day!

By the time the day came to an end she had snuggled into her bed with the book from the library while texting a new friend she had made.

She realized that this day – which came only once a year – was done. No celebration. No friends. No innumerable cake cuttings. No cream on the face. No long talks on the phone. No presents.
She did miss talking to those friends who called only once a year (which showed that they cared enough to remember her special day) and catching up with them. They must have called and given up.

But that day, in a unique way, in that quiet celebration, she had found peace and comfort which she hadn’t since a month. She slept feeling happy and contented. It had been a good day!

Until next year.