Dear Miss Alka,
I don’t think you’d remember me. But I’ve always hoped to run into you somewhere, just so I could see you smile and give you a hug one last time. I wonder if I would even recognize you anymore.
It’s been five years since you taught me, but I will always remember your voice and the way you said “baccha” when you repeated an explanation for me. Most of which I already understood but I asked you questions so you knew I was interested and listening to what you said.
I’m sorry for all the trouble we caused you. We were a misbehaved class of juveniles and we never deserved a teacher as wonderful as you.
You could have reprimanded us, you could have stopped teaching us and changed your class, you could have done a lot of things to teach us a lesson and we would have been harshly punished. But you didn’t.
I still don’t know why. Perhaps you saw that we were all just lost children and you were strong for our sake.
You taught me a lot about kindness, forgiveness, strength and perseverance. You entered our class everyday with a smile and a will to teach. And every day we misbehaved but your smile never left your lips, though it did occasionally leave your eyes.
You always sheltered us, defended us against the stricter teachers. And we were always ungrateful.
I wish I had told you how special you are when I had the chance. I wish I’d thanked you more often, and not just on that one teacher’s day when I hugged and wished you and you smiled the same warm smile you always did.
Yours was the only class I consciously stopped myself from zoning out in. Yours was the only notebook I kept neat and complete and submitted on time because I needed to show you, in some way, that I learned from you and that your efforts weren’t going waste.
I heard the word “meander” for the first time in your class and it is, even today, one of my favorite words, I use it more often than I should. I also still remember how to identify the various stages of a river. I remember you every time I see one.
I wish I had been more blatant and vocal about things, but the fact that I wasn’t back then has made me better today, I guess I try to make up for those lost opportunities of compassion. You made me a better person without doing anything but being yourself. You taught me that kindness is subtle and silent, but its impact is loud.
That year I was lost. For the first semester, most of my classmates hated me and I was confused and lonely. I always looked forward to your class so I could see your smile, feel cared about and loved for those thirty five minutes that you were in class.
I still remember how warm your presence felt. There was something inexplicably motherly about you, about how gentle you were.
I can still picture your saris, and your spiral notebook filled with stickies and notes. I couldn’t understand your handwriting on the board much, but I always imagined it to be a certain cursive in the notebook you dictated from. Subconsciously, I have tried to imitate it, it makes me feel a certain way that I’m not sure I know how to explain.
I was extremely happy when I heard that you had switched schools. I knew we didn’t deserve you and I hoped that you would be teaching children who did, who valued you and who were grateful to you. We never were.
You taught me a lot about compassion, empathy, life, love and strength, more than I would ever have learned from a textbook.
I wonder if I will ever meet you again. I hope I do. I’d like to share a coffee and a conversation with you. And I would love to see you smile that warm smile again.
I hope you’re doing well, Miss. And I really hope you’re happy.
With loads of love,
Dear Miss Alka,