My name was announced on the mike.
There was lusty cheering all around for a while
And soon there was hushed silence as I got up to speak.
I looked at the principal and
My other colleagues on the podium.
Addressing the assembly was not new to me
But this was different.
This was my last address to the students.
I felt nervous,
As nervous as my first day at school.
I felt a lump in my throat.
I tried to control my emotions
By clutching at the mike
And leaning against the high table.
I made few attempts to clear
My already-clear throat.
I bowed silently to Mr. Chips
Who flashed in my memory.
Going through the preliminary courtesies
I surveyed the gathering.
In their wont fashion, words started flowing
But I could see my self distanced from myself
And watching my own performance.
Thirty years at school.
It’s difficult to put those hours into a capsule.
Much water had flowed down...
I tried hard not to be pedantic
And if I could recall,
I wanted to recount and amuse
As to how I was made fun of in the class
Not by the mischievous lot,
But by the brighter flock feigning ignorance.
I deliberately played my idiosyncrasies
Which earned me aliases and pet names to the score,
To tickle laughter and ease the tension,
To make the occasion more jovial than solemn.
True. I was accustomed to say, and now hear,
The irreparable breach of the retiring teachers.
But I wanted to assert that:
The art of teaching is not so much about teaching really,
But the knack of inculcating in the child
To learn as easily as he draws breath in;
That it's great fun to play with children
In the name of teaching, and
It should be hard to say
Who was the teacher and who was the taught!
Leaving all niceties to wind
I said how children inspired me,
Made me run to the book,
Which in a way, my parents failed to do;
And how they awakened my sense of pride
And saved me from the perils of
Complaisant teaching routines.
Described how I learnt the subject more as teacher.
I strained to recall names, faces, and incidents
That mellowed, humbled and made me humane.
I camouflaged it all buying time
Uttering familiar phraseology
And theatrics of pauses and punches unto the last:
“Well children! I was asked to give you a message.
Instead, I want to share my cherished wish with you.
Nature is a great nursery school
And all of us are toddlers who come here to play and frolic.
Our ignorance doesn’t diminish its quality
Nor our knowledge enriches it a whit.
We must keep this nursery as clean as we entered here
For the future kids to come and play.
And should I be blessed with another stint
I would love to come and accompany you in the fun.”