Goodbyes are something I’ve never been quite fond of. Of late there have been one too many goodbyes that I have had to say, and trust me, it’s hard.
One of the most significant goodbyes however was to a certain teacher.
A teacher who went by the name of Natrajamurthy B.
Natrajamurthy sir or Nattu Sir as we used to call him taught me Accountancy, among other things.
I had joined his classes early Eleventh standard, a few weeks into school, after a couple of recommendations from some of my other classmates.
The first few classes, were a lot of fun, with random bits of advice and the basic principles of accounts and we shared a great student-teacher chemistry, especially because I was looking forward towards a career in accounts (CA).
It took a few more classes and my over-enthu doubts (which were usually out-of-syllabus) to figure out that he knew my father pretty well (“You’re Mohan’s daughter?!!” I can never quite forget that incredulous look on sir’s face).
A few days later, I failed my first unit test in accounts.
Not surprisingly I threw a hissy fit, cried and deemed myself unfit for accountancy. It took one and a half hours of counseling from Sir to register the fact that this test was of no consequence to what I would be doing in the future and neither was it any sort of indicator of my intelligence.
But I still didn’t believe him.
Atleast not until the midterms, when I actually started scoring.
The feeling of “Yes, this is exactly what I should be doing!” where accounts was concerned grew with everyone of his classes.
Honestly, there would be a lot of diversions in his classes, mokka jokes, wuzzles, “life” advice and stories of our seniors and most importantly he kept reminding us that we were some of the best brains in the country (which I didn’t believe, still).
He tried to drive us out of the beliefs that there was no way that we could take over the customary school, er toppers (y’know, the people who come first in everything).
And in the school final, much to our own amazement, we did, leading to a “told you so” dialogue with Sir.
We loved the way in which he taught us, he always called us his “buddies” and for every right answer we gave, we would get a Hi-5, which was later changed to “halfway” and finally “halfway buddy”.
I am not a punctual person, I have always been sloppy where that was concerned and used to come late pretty often which irked Sir. He would shout at me, for a full ten minutes, made me skip tests because I was late for them, and yes, he was hard on me. It really pissed me off at one point of time considering he wouldn’t be as hard on the other kids who came late as he was on me. And I remember telling him that too, “Sir, you’re partial”
He called me aside that evening after class and told me, “I’m extra hard on you because you’re extra special to me.”
At that point of time I thought it was the worst bit of logic on the planet. But I was determined not to give him any more excuses to shout at me. I started coming on time, not only for his classes but for everything else. That made a world of difference in my life, considering I was always running late for everything.
Now, if I’m punctual or even early for something, I owe it to him.
Twelfth was a year we drove him crazy. We’d bunk a lot, me especially, what with Elections, Reverbs and a whole lot of cultural hopping. This showed on my preliminary tests where my marks were pretty dismal. I didn’t settle down until as late as October and that was when all the learning had to be redone. It was quite frustrating for both sir as well as us because in some classes we never did get anywhere and on top of that, sir would keep saying that we had the talent to top the school when we would have been more than happy to scrape a 90.
But January, February we shifted gears after constant prodding and began our hard work, and those tests which sir gave were like God-send, especially because they were these short, snappy tests which tested only particular areas, which meant it didn’t take too much time to prepare but then again, Sir had this super knack of picking out questions that were usually in some remote corner of the book.
I came back to my “usual form” in those tests and that really pushed up the confidence meter.
Two days before the Accountancy Board exam sir had called us for giving the test papers that we had written the previous day. I had come third or something, I don’t really remember.
But what I do remember is asking Sir (after everybody had left) if I had what it took to top the school in the Subject, paavum face, et al. What I got in return was this total dressing down of what an unbearably stupid question I had asked. (“Lavanya, what are you saying? What are you saying? Look at you! This is NOT the time for you to get self doubts ) which basically implied that I could.
As far as I was concerned, my boards were a disaster – a balance sheet didn’t tally (calculation mistake of some sort) and there was a mistake in the question paper, plus i had spent too much time on the sum in which I was stuck that I didn’t have too much time to complete Part B.
I came home, threw one of my famous fits again, threw my mobile phone on the wall and tore my question paper up into half. And you think YOU have issues.
Took me a day to move on, but I did, and before I knew it, results were around the corner.
I couldn’t sleep the day before my results came so I moved around all the furniture in the house until I was bone tired and finally fell asleep.
Turned out I got 99.
School First in Accounts.
Sir was the first person I had called, not even my father who was in Malaysia at that time and our conversation went thus:
Me: SIR!!! 99 SIR!! 99!!
Sir: BUDDY! I TOLD YOU!!!
me: SIR!! 99!!
That 99 hangover lasted for a week, FINALLY something to brag about, after 15 years of schooling (Actually I had topped commerce as well, in fact my board performance was pretty awesome, 469, school third, and oh how I love saying that)
This July brought the end of our “professional” ties (we forced him to take CPT classes as well), we had to say goodbye to man who was almost like a father figure to us.
I will miss you, your teaching and also the whats-for-dinner game.
To the man who taught me punctuality.
To the man who taught me confidence.
To the man who taught me how to drive out insecurities.
To the man who taught me how to take failures in my stride.
To the man who taught me Corporate Accounting.
To the man who had more belief in me than I ever will.
To the man who said “I dont know about that Lalu but this Lalu is a Prasad” 😀
Sir, Thank You for the memories.
Nattu Sir is not the only special person to whom I’m saying goodbye.
I wish I didn’t have to.
You’ll always be special to me, I hope you know that and I will always remember you whenever I have thaenga chutney.
Or Paruppu sadam.
Or feedback forms.
Or Pavada dhavani.
I have lots more to put in here but I can’t remember some.
My CPT got rescheduled because of some moron in Delhi who leaked the paper for a paltry 60,000. There are 82,000 kids writing this paper, even if each one had contributed one buck each, he would have got more.
*insert expletive here*