|SHAMIM MERCHANT||12:36 PM (5 hours ago)|
|to newsmonks, me, Heart|
Mrs. Bailey, my teacher in 3rd standard, for three hours. Yes, you read it correctly. She was my teacher for three hours only. She was short, very thin and her skin had wrinkled all over. She had short curly silver grey hair and her umber eyes were habitually covered with tortoiseshell glasses. I’d always seen her in long frocks with matching cardigans. She was a widow and lived with a fifty years old housekeeper and her mother who was as old as Mrs. Bailey. They lived in a small house provided by the church in the church compound.
After my 2nd standard, we shifted residence from Mumbai to Bangalore. Seeing my entrance test result, Mrs. Bailey had a word with the principal and they promoted me to 4th.
At the age of eight and barely a three hours connection, she touched my soul in a flash. I’m yet to see a more compassionate and loving person walk the earth, like she was. Only honey dripped from her soft and gentle voice. I could feel the warmth of her heart in her fragile hands when she held mine. The lessons I learnt from her, no teacher could have ever taught in a classroom. And ironically, she didn’t teach them at all. It was her persona and her way of life. The biggest lesson I learned from her is that grace and elegance can be simple and yet impactful. Little things can give you happy memories for a lifetime. Her humble and down to earth nature, compelled me to ponder and thrive to be like her.
As years went by, grades, schools and colleges changed. Nevertheless, I stayed in touch with my dear teacher all her life. She retired long back, but I made sure to visit her every Sunday. The bonding was mutual. She loved me as much as I felt for her. I sat with her for hours, having long talks and telling her about all my doings and listening to her advice. Her housekeeper would serve us lemon and barley and we sipped it little by little all through our chatting. Her small house had a very English look and it emitted a lot of warmth and homely feeling.
It was overwhelming when she came to bless me on my wedding day. On stage, she talked to my newly become husband as if they were long lost, friends. My happiness reflected in her smile and in her prayers when she blessed us. She was equally enthralled that our association had been for such an extended period.
It’s been years since she passed away. It’s been forty two years since I first met Mrs. Bailey. Now as I write this article, emotions have clogged me and I’m still in awe of what a spell that miracle woman has on me, even today, even in her absence. She crept into my heart and seeped deep in my soul, in just three hours. God bless her and rest her in peace.
How wonderful it would be if we could have the same influence on someone as she has on me. And paradoxically, the hold she has on me is not out of command, but I’m sold to her love and gentleness. Today, I’m a teacher myself and all I want is my kids to love me, enjoy my class and wait for my lecture eagerly. I’m glad to say, somewhere I’ve achieved that, nonetheless it is still a relentless, ongoing mission.
My darling Mrs. Bailey. Wherever you are, God bless you and I love you even today and will continue to do so. Thank you for being the most beautiful teacher I’ve ever had. It was completely my good fortune that I knew you and we had a chance to walk a few miles together.
One of my novels has a character dedicated to her with the same name. My quote for her:“Reminisces of your golden heart,Will never let your presence depart.”