Monday, November 9, 2009

The little red Reynolds pen

I remember the day I stepped into 6 'A'. There were these array of new subjects- Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History and Geography that I had to cope with. Little did I expect that the slender, spectacled, prim-looking lady entering the class was to have such a long-lasting impression in my mind and to an extent even influence my opinion of a person.

My English teacher came with a big package of rules! Mondays and Wednesdays would be prose & poetry classes, Tuesday and Fridays- grammar and Thursdays non-detailed stories. All of us had to get our cursive handwriting notebooks everyday to class and write a page of the same sentence with each and every word without a break in between (b,l,k,h,d,f should have loops; t should not). How I used to crave to get a 'good' and not 'fair' remark from her! And I almost forgot...Wren and Martin was like her Bible. To all the grammar classes we HAVE to get a red ball point pen (to highlight adjectives, adverbs, mark clauses, etc., depending on what that particular class was about). And whoever does not comply with these rules had to stay kneel-down for the entire span of the class!!She would not care if it is the top-ranker or the 'makku' aka poor performer. The punishment was the same!

Also, she made it a point that she would not speak to anybody in a language other than English in front of her class. It used to be a rare sight (that we gush about) to spot her talking to the peons in Tamil. She does have her 'favorite' students but also makes herself harder on them when she corrects their exam papers. From class six, she never once wrote down answers on the blackboard but dictated them orally...unlike others. And was the most regular teacher...she would not take a sick leave, for crying out loud!! All of this put together made some students dislike her, obviously.

But it was also true that her English was impeccable! A fraction of her obsession with grammar has over the time transcended to some of her students, inclusive of me. Her classes were less about finishing up the portions and more time was spent on word-based exercises. I still remember the different words to describe sound and light which we once discussed as part of class activity. Shimmer, shine, glare, glisten, flicker......
For us, Thursdays was the fun class...with the least rules. Her way of story-telling was so much fun and it was even more enjoyable as we see that rare glimpse of a lighter side in her.

Ever since secondary education, I have been a sucker for grammar and writing. If today I feel, I express my thoughts much better in a written medium, it's all because of her. I could be biased in my opinion about her (also I was one of her 'favorites' ;) )..but she is like the ideal English teacher one can get. I strongly believe teachers bear a heavy influence on what a student thinks of a subject....and I am happy that I had her as my teacher.

To...JP ma'am!