I distinctly remember that Sunday afternoon. It was the month of May, and the mercury threatened to touch a sweltering 37 degrees. Lost in my weekend siesta, the sudden phone call startled me into a fit of abrupt wakefulness.
“Oh, hi, Rajeev! What’s up? Long time no see.”
“Yeah, Sanath, there is some news, Ma passed away last night. Heart Attack. The doctors couldn’t do anything.”
Shocked, perturbed, I sat motionless on my bed.
“Mrs Mrinalini, dead!!”
My brain was sent into a tizzy; my mind lost in a whirlpool of memories and emotions.
It took some time for the news to settle in. Of course, she was old. But it all happened so suddenly.
I vividly remember when we were in the ninth grade, Mrinalini Chatterjee or Mrs M as she would prefer us calling her, was first introduced to us. Stout and round, wearing horn-rimmed glasses, she had an air of casual sway. Hands always at work, she was often found engrossed in some task or another. Back in the day, I was a bit of a rebel—a time when I was discovering my impulsive teen years. Studies bored me, so I never studied. Never. Invited trouble everywhere I went, smuggled fags into my room and did every stupid thing a naïve teenager is expected to do. My family had given up on me. The situation got so bad that they decided to pack my bags and send me away to some distant boarding school. It was during this troublesome period that Mrs M came to my rescue. Stepping in, she decided to take me under her tutelage.
And I kid you not, from that moment forth it was a roller coaster ride. It took her a lot of effort to set me straight, but she eventually got me back on track. Her outlandish methods ensured that she always found ways to get things done. Her sharp features, coupled with an enigmatic personality, had us in awe of her. A guide in the truest sense of the word, she always made sure that we got the best of everything even if times were trying :
A shrill cry of a dog jolted me back to reality. Gingerly opening my cupboard, I took out the skill-fully crafted goblet. It was a parting gift from our dear ma’am. Those last few days of our school life were now a haze, but I had her final good-bye emphatically etched in my memory- “Children are like these goblets, waiting to be filled with the water of mirth, knowledge and love. And one day, when you grow up, you will have the wonderful occasion to fill these little things and when you do so, do it with utmost nobility, earnestness and love.”
-To the woman who taught me the values of love, integrity, honesty, and many other things.
-To the woman who was the best teacher I could ever ask for.