This year’s Teacher’s day was very special to me, to my brother and my brother in law Anand. After a gap of more than thirty years, we met our beloved teacher Sri C. Sambasiva Rao in Atlanta who taught us English while we were studying in A.N.R College Gudivada, way back in 1974. Prior to that we studied in small remote villages in Andhra Pradesh, so we had no exposure to books except the small libraries we saw in villages. Though we were in touch with him over phone all these years, last time I met him was 1994 when I was working there. We were overwhelmed with flood of memories before meeting our teacher. It is sheer serendipity that the day we met him happened to be Teacher’s day, though we didn’t plan to do so. He was exemplary in igniting and inspiring the students’ thought process.

I thought I should share few memories of that period which I feel are relevant on this teacher’s day. Our teacher opened the door to my world of books. When we used to go for English coaching classes to his house it was full of books. The entire room had no walls but books. Before the teacher took the class, I used to browse the books with great enthusiasm and curiosity. After seeing the ocean of books, I decided to fill my home with books (Whether I read them or not) when I grow up.

Few of the lessons taught by him, A.G Garden’s umbrella morals, Wordsworth’s famous poem Daffodils, Sarojini Naidu’s poem in the Bazar’s of Hyderabad, Stephen Leacock’s My Lost Dollar are still fresh in my memory. He used to encourage students to read general knowledge books to expand their horizon. It motivated me to shift to humanities and to appear for civil services exams.

My younger brother Subramanyam’s team was coached by him and they won a quiz competition held in Guntur. Loksatta leader Sri Jaya Prakash Narayan also was a participant in that quiz competition. My brother still preserved that certificate and shared the memory with our teacher when we met him in Atlanta. His teaching was more like a dialogue than a monologue.

With Family Members

Our teacher was always ahead of his times. Incidentally he was also in charge of our College’s NSS (National Service Scheme) which was service wing, whereas NCC was prelude to para military wing. Both of the wings have now become extinct and devoured by the Corporate College’s greedy culture. All we are left with now are EMCET, JEE, NEET and other sets to make the kids all set for US / UK / Australia / Canada. During my college days I attended two NSS camps. Our teacher was unique in organizing these camps at Stuartpuram and Seethanagaram. Both places were rehabilitation centers for hard core criminals. The whole week we stayed in a school building interacting with the villagers and doing manual work of improving the school premises and repairing the roads. On the closing day of the camp he used to invite social reformers like Sri Lavanam and Smt. Hemalatha Lavanam to address the students and villagers. It gave us a great opportunity to have an insight into the villages and the criminals turned civilians.

Our teacher had an excellent sense of humor. On one occasion he went as examiner to value Intermediate public exam papers. Being conscious of standards he was evaluating papers little tough. Noticing this, the Chief examiner wanted to advise our teacher by saying “if our teachers evaluated us like you, we could not have passed our exams”. He gave a quick retort “you might have passed like that Sir, but I am not”. Our teacher was a student of legendary professors like Dr. Srinivasa Iyengar and C. Raghava Chari of Andhra University. When I met him once while preparing for Civil Services Examination, we discussed the increasing number of Doctorates. He said “If a doctoral research is made it should add something to the already existing quantum of knowledge”, which I doubt is rarely seen in the current educational system.

In another occasion while I was returning the book, Letters to his daughter by Jawaharlal Nehru, I told him that the book is very interesting and educative. He smiled and said “this was the only education Smt. Indira Gandhi ever had”.

In the recent years I am frequently visiting U.S and staying for longer periods. I got reconnected to our teacher who settled in U.S with his two daughters and son. In our long talks over phone he used to quote profusely from modern writers and discuss current literary, political and social trends at length. Though I too read a little I honestly confess that I haven’t heard of many of the authors cited by him. Only solace I had was he being my teacher which consoled me to some extent.

He has crossed his eighties but still reads at least six hours a day. When we visited him in Atlanta, he had a fresh treasure of books. I could see a pile of books to be read beside his bed. He encouraged me to pick few books from his collection. Even Now he plays bridge tournaments, the habit which he had when we were students. Whenever I think of our teacher, I always recollect the opening remarks of Bertrand Russell’s Auto biography- “Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong,have governed, my life – my “Longing for love, the search for knowledge and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind”.

With my Guru

Albert Camus the second youngest person to receive the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957 (The year I was born) had a troubled child hood. Three days after receiving the Nobel Prize he wrote a spectacular letter to his school teacher in which he wrote….

“When I heard the news, my first thought, after my mother was of you, without you, without the affectionate hand you extended to the small poor child that I was, without your teaching and example, none of all this would have happened. It gives me the opportunity to tell you what you have been and sill are for me and to assure you that your efforts, your work and the generous heart you put into it still live in one of your little school boys who despite the years has never stopped being your grateful pupil.I embrace you with all my heart”.

As I am blessed to enjoy his mentorship at this age also in another continent I echo the same words of gratitude to my beloved teacher with Pranams.

14 Replies to “Teacher’s Day”

  1. I really appreciated this bonding of teacher and student which is indeed a unique bond. While reading this article all the beautiful memories of my loving teachers was flashing. I bow with respect to all the teachers for their love and dedication toward their students. It was a great pleasure knowing you Sir.

  2. Sharing our Gratitude towards teachers is great quality.
    Sharing your experiences when ever you feel is great art🙏🏻

  3. Sir,It is very good opportunity to meet your beloved master in other continent that to it is a special gift on Teachers day.Sir so far we have seen your Telugu literature but English is dominated sir.Thank you

  4. Very touching memories about your teacher and his inspiration to you and it is really great of you to meet him and recall all those episodes in your college and how he impacted you
    Great teacher teach with heart and passion to the full potential

  5. It was a good gesture to meet your Teacher that day even though that was a coincident, lovely memories.

  6. Very interesting write up.

    Books are a great way to expand one’s knowledge.

    But a teacher goes far beyond that, in showing the insights which written print cannot convey.

    Teachers are that way far more valuable.

  7. Happy and fortunate that you and your family members could be with one of your favorite teachers on Teacher’s day.Always greatful for the teachers who shaped us during our early days.God bless them and their families.

  8. Sir namaste! This is one of the best acknowledgment of a teacher’s role in shaping up a student’s personality so far in my life. I too had vivid memories of our teachers whose enthusiasm made us realize the importance of education & its impact on one’s own future plans & career selection. I am quite envious of you as your teacher is still active & continues to inspire us. I admit that I owe a lot to my teachers specially the one who taught me English Venkanna by name who is no more. He was the man who instilled in me a great interest in learning English. His simple techniques in imparting education was amazing. When explaining about First person, Second person & third person he used to say in Telugu “ ఒరేయ్! నువ్వు నేను తప్ప తతిమావన్నీ third person రా!” You gave me an opportunity to pay homage to my teacher! My tributes to all the great teachers who lived upto their ideals🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼మీ చలం

  9. Harsha garu, Really good and grateful feelings expressed about your proud mentor and Guruvu garu with reference to teachers day. Keep up your literary passion and thanks for sharing with all of us.

  10. Gurubhyonamaha.. It was a nice peek to your college days and read a out your experiences with books uncle. Seeing your source of inspiration (guru) was inspiring me too.

  11. Blessed are the souls that are fortunate to be associated with great teachers….🙏🙏🙏thasmai Sree Guruvey namaha!

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