Damage – Part 3

“I do not understand this child/ though we have lived together now/ in the same house for years I know.” The third period was English taken up by Mr. Kaushik Kakati, a 30-something guy who claimed to have left school after 10th and went on to help the chief minister in looting the citizens of Assam. This man dripped of sarcasm. He was a tall guy, with thinning hair and a pleasant face. His was the first class when I’d actually cared to listen what he was saying. The rest of them were the same you-are-all-army-brats-but-not-in-my-class people. But Mr. Kakati was different and to an extent interesting. We were reading the poem “Father to Son” by Elizabeth Jennings.
“So, why do you think the father must’ve ignored his son growing up at the first place?” He asked.
There was murmur in the class. “Maybe he was busy with work like our fathers.” One of the first-bencher spoke first.
“Yeah, and the sky is blue and the sun rises in the East, right?” He rolled his eyes to mock the guy who giggled as if he was the cutest kitten in the class.
“Come on, think of something unusual, something more dramatic, more touching.”
“Maybe the father didn’t care.” All eyes turned towards the speaker, it was me.
“Uh-huh. And why wouldn’t a father care about his son Mr.?”
“Amrit Talpade. Maybe the father thought his son was ugly, maybe he didn’t want a child, or maybe he wasn’t his son.” I could see others whispering to each other, smiling at me.
“Quite thoughtful, maybe you could cut down on those Manmohan Desai movies and start reading books instead Mr. Talpade.” I stared at him for a moment, trying to figure out if he meant what he just said.
“And maybe you could try and focus on what’s written in the textbook rather than asking not-so-intelligent questions to uninterested students. We might not have a bombastic imagination but we do have problems.” I remarked dryly.
There was a gasp in the class.
“Whoa! calm down Lieutenant. Problems are an integral part of life. I don’t think it gives you a reason to bark at your innocent English teacher. I was just trying to fire up some imagination in my uninterested students.” He smirked.
“I’m sorry sir. I shouldn’t have snapped.” I stood up.
“I take it you don’t like the poem. Did the poet break your heart or do you have a son who doesn’t listen to you?”
“There’s nothing like that sir.” I looked away, this man just doesn’t give up.
He looked at me for a moment, “Your problems are your own troubled children. They hate you, they loathe you, but you’ve got to treat them with patience and determination, for they make you a stronger person. They’re stubborn, they don’t solve themselves and neither do they let you confide into them easily. But you don’t give up, you just don’t give up boy. Got my point?” I nodded.
“Good, you may take your seat.”
I remained silent for the rest of the day, pondering.

Pre-cap: Don’t take life too seriously; it has a weird sense of humour.


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