Amrita was a very quiet girl. She used to speak only that much what was required. She didn’t have any close friends in her class. Looking at the other classmates, who made a lot of noise, she got very upset. But she couldn’t do anything. As she knew if they didn’t listen to the teachers why they would listen to her.
She used to be so irritated that she even forgot to smile.
A new teacher came in the class. The students made a lot of fun of the teacher and teased him with various pranks. She was surprised to see that the teacher was neither angry nor upset of these behaviours but he laughed with the children. After the class was over, she went to that teacher and said, “Sir, if you don’t mind can I have a little time of yours?”
The teacher said, “Yes dear, why not? Is there any doubt in the chapter that we started just now?”
She replied, “No sir, it’s not related to that. But I have never met anyone like you yet. I have seen people getting infuriated with the misbehaviour and pranks but you took everything as if that was the part of the lesson.”
The teacher said with a smile, “Oh! So you want to know why I didn’t get angry. Ok dear. I’ll definitely answer to your query. Let’s get back to the class and call all your friends there.”
She asked everyone to come back to the class and take their seats as the teacher had asked. The teacher came after a few minutes with a few saplings.
The kids started to laugh again shouting, “The English teacher will teach us Botany today.”
The teacher whispered something to all the saplings that he had arranged on the table. He took one and threw it in the dustbin. He called three children and gave them a sapling each to plant them in the side lanes of the school. Then he called Amrita and asked her to keep a sapling with her. One sapling was in the hand of the teacher and one was still lying on the table.The children got curious now and remain silent to check what was going to happen with all those saplings.
Now the teacher asked, ” Can anyone tell me which one is going to be a huge tree, which will remain as a shrub and which will be a climber?”
One child said, “Sir, how can we tell that? They are all similar and we don’t know which one will survive and which will fail in the struggle of existence.”
The teacher commented, “Yes, that’s the point. We don’t know which sapling is going to be what so we are no one to comment about their future at this stage.”
One girl stood and asked, “Sir, you threw one sapling in the dustbin. Please tell us, why did you do that?”
The teacher said, ” Good! You observed that.” He took out the sapling from the dustbin and asked to the students, “Do you think this one can survive? Look at it’s tender leaves and almost dried stem.”
Few said yes, a few no but many were still doubtful. The teacher gave that sapling to one of the students who was making a lot of noise in the last period. He said to him, “You have to take care of this. Make sure that it survives and flowers.”
Then he addressed the whole class, ” Dear children, with this I just wanted to show you that you all are like these tender saplings and the future of that depends on who is taking care of them and how the care is taken. So if you are bored, uninterested or noisy the problem is not with you but with the one who is tending you. And to look after any of the saplings you need the basic thing that is patience.
When I came in the class I was sure that you would misbehave as it’s my first class today. But dear children, it’s not my first time. I’ve been dealing with kids like you for more than fifteen years. And that experience has taught me that everyone needs time to adjust. So to make you comfortable I’ve to adjust first. To bring out the best from you, I have to show my best to you.”
He continued, ” One of your friends wanted to know how I was so calm and in such a good mood even after you made so many jokes of me. I was judged by you all with my outlook, you didn’t know me well, so you did what you could do. But I have assessed myself many more times than you all, I know myself better than you, so why should I get upset or infuriated with what you commented about me.”
There was pin drop silence in the class now. All the eyes were at the teacher and all the ears were patiently listening to him.
The teacher took a little pause and then said, ” Dear children, to bring any change outside we need to transform ourselves first. If I myself am not prepared for the circumstances and their consequences, how can I expect the circumstances or the people around me to favour me. My area of possession is only around myself, neither the situation nor the people. Look at yourself. Who are you? What’s the purpose of your life? What are you doing now and preparing for the future? Assess yourself. This is called introspection. So start working on yourself rather than judging others. That’s not your area of control. Now I hope you have understood my point and will take care of the saplings that I have given you. All the best.”
The whole class stood up and clapped loudly for the teacher. Some of them had tears in their eyes. After a month all the saplings had grown into beautiful plants. A few were seasonal flowering plants and the others were going to be huge trees.
© Anupam Mishra