When we try to recall our school days, they tend to blur into vastly happy memories, with some sad, some inspiring, and many inane moments that stand out. There is one particularly strong memory of Mr. Shekhar, my history teacher in class XII, and the school vice principal. Known to be authoritarian, he had a very stern demeanour and was generally considered a terror. He was ruthless in admonishing boys with long hair and missing top buttons on shirts, and in those days when capital punishment was considered a necessary part of disciplining wayward school children, he did not shy away from wielding the cane (figuratively!). But Mr Shekhar was a vastly different person as a teacher, on a one-to-one basis. He was demanding, yet very gentle in getting the best out of his students. We were never afraid to speak our mind in his class. Above, all he was an extremely fair person.
One time, our class of 14 Arts students decided to bunk classes. We went to the nearby Malviya Nagar market to eat choley bhaturey. When we got back we saw Mr Shekhar bellowing at a group of our classmates from the science section for not having gone for their SUPW class. On spotting us returning en masse, he gently told us, ‘Come see me in my office in five minutes.’ So we all went, although feeling very victorious at our bravery and daring, we were scared to face the anticipated explosion. But in his office he told us even more gently, “Look children. Don’t do this again. Next time you want to eat choley bhaturey let me know and I’ll send the peon.’ Imagine our science friends’ chagrin at learning what had happened.
What was more amusing was that the next day a group from our class, after having collected 1 rupee 25 paise each, went and told him to ask his peon to order 14 plates of choley bhaturey. The choley-bhaturey came and we all ate with relish while the rest of the school watched deeply affronted!
I am aware that not too many people have such amusing memories associated with Mr Shekhar. Whatever our memories of the man, most of us look back on him with gratitude for being an important instrument in shaping us to be the kind of people we are today. Thank you, Mr Shekhar.