My first two years teaching in a Residential school
My friend told me about a school.Her sister-in-law was a teacher who agreed to make arrangements for me to see the Principal.He was a tall man.He was one of those people,who claimed to be a Bengali.But couldn’t speak the language.I realized then why my Dad insisted,that we must know our mother tongue. “Learn as many languages as you can,do not forget your mother tongue.” I thought about my Dad, when I was being interviewed,suddenly I heard Major Rahman,the principal calling me,I straightened myself.I was dreaming I didn’t hear what he was saying. I scolded myself for day-dreaming. The principal’s last words were,”And you cannot get married for at least five to seven years.”
I thought this isn’t a job interview,my friend wanted me to talk to him.He is already telling me how to run my life. At that point I did not have a very good impression of the man.However I felt since I have finished school.I must make myself worthy of doing something. Sadly enough I’ve groomed myself to be a teacher, My choice was very limited,either I make myself ready to teach in a school or take a job in a college where my sister was a Principal. Well,between my sister and Major Rahman, I wasn’t sure, who was a better choice. What can I say about my sibling,she was so bossy,I presumed Major Rahman would be a better alternative.
A few days later,I received an appointment letter from Major Rahman. I was selected.I was required to join almost immediately. I was cautiously optimistic about this job. I took the job.I was provided with a room with attached bathroom,and I would get my meals free. Wow,I mused,”my destiny has finally noticed me.” I was given a class of forty-two grade two boys.Grade two I thought,how difficult can it be!
Next day I went into the classroom at 7:00 am. One boy stood up without any hesitation,looked at me,with a mischievous grin on his face, and declared, ” you are our sixth teacher.” Hmm,I thought in my mind, “Did they swallow the previous five?” If so, I have a battle in my hands,without saying anything I started doing what I was hired for i.e teaching. I recalled my mother who said once,’you know children and monkeys are alike,if you make the mistake of easing off they will climb on your head.’ I seemed to have a challenging job,but no,’these six years old,nah I will put them in their place.’ At 10:am the bell rang for recess,before I had time to gather my thoughts together,there was a loud uproar and within seconds the room was empty. As if there was an earthquake which measured 8.5 on the Richter scale. The gym teacher who was next door came out,”Oh they are very bad,I have to come out of my office daily to discipline them.” Yeah in my mind I couldn’t help but think,” so you are here to rub salt on my wound.” well the day is not over yet,”I’ll teach these ruffians,who’s the boss.”
The day finally arrived I was waiting for,I checked my watch,there were a few minutes left for the recess bell.I went to the door and locked it. Nowsher,who proclaimed himself to be a leader,didn’t quite fathom what just took place,he moved himself in his seat.He thought he’d wait to see what his next course of action will be.”I am a leader,I cannot back down,I will not surrender,or my followers will lose their respect for me.” Then the thundering voice nearly made him deaf,”if anyone moves from his desk there’ll be no recess.” Nowsher finally realized she is not like the five we gobbled up in two months.This one seems to be in a different league all by herself. If my memory serves me correctly,I was teaching in the school for ten days. It seemed to me as if I was there for decades.What was behind all this frustration? not my little pupils,not my colleagues,who is making my life miserable. I realized it was Major Rahman,who day in and day out was scolding the teachers in the presence of the students. This wasn’t something I could tolerate.On the tenth day I wrote my resignation letter, I had to hand it to him personally. When he saw me he was as charming as he could be,as if he was a picture of a gentleman with all the angelic qualities.He read the letter,looked up and asked me,”Is this a resignation letter?’ I answered in the affirmative. “You’ve only been here for ten days,why do you want to quit?” ‘I don’t like it sir,’I replied “No, it is not a good reason.” He handed back my letter. I was unhappy,but had to stay,it was a government school,it wouldn’t bode well for my future jobs. In the meantime I received a letter from the Research Institute, I was selected for the M.ED. course.It seemed I got my rejuvenation back,I can finally quit this place. My disappointment was at its height when I heard the verdict,I am only teaching for two months, the school will not release me.It was heart-breaking,I had to digest my pain and anger and calmed myself.I’ll try next year.They cannot stop me from leaving.It was the same story.
I was teaching as usual,it seemed these were different boys. But they were not,they realized they have to listen to me or else life can be difficult. Most of the boys were in the same dormitory as me.I only had my own room.They saw me from five in the morning till eleven at night. We ate in the same dining room, breakfast,lunch and dinner.The boys always kept an eye on me.They wanted to see what I was doing with my food. For breakfast it was bread and tea for me and the children had milk. The waiter thought he was very helpful,he would put a generous heaping of butter and topped it with several tablespoons of jam. I noticed because the door of the kitchen was open, there were swarms of flies greeting us.I didn’t like the scenario especially when they sat on my bread and got stuck because of the sticky jam. Every morning I sat and removed the butter and the jam,but lost my appetite,so I did not eat.This happened for days.I was sick.I was told to see a doctor,when the physician recommended I have to stay in the hospital,I lost my nerve I told everyone I was all right.I made a quick exit from the hospital to my school. The kids were happy to see me.I started my regular teaching. Sometimes destiny gives us a jolt to remind us that too much relaxation can be harmful. I was relaxing for maybe ten minutes,it was a week-end the ward boys were supposed to make sure the kids were taking their shower without any problems. It didn’t happen the entire floor was flooded with water and the boys were on their fours sliding,suddenly two of them collided with each other and one boy broke his two front teeth. The maid came running to my room to report this mishap. I was at a loss what am I going to do.In walked Major Rahman,summoned me,where was I when this happened.I told him I was in my room relaxing. At this point,I knew if he tries to be crooked with me.I’ll quit. Amazingly enough he said nothing.I must admit I grew very fond of the boys.They tried their trick once and afterwards they were normal boys. There was one other incident while I was in that school.I was invited to watch the sports in my old college.I got permission to go. I was hardly outside the gate of the school,the same kid who broke his two front teeth broke his arm. The kids told me as soon as I got back. They said I should always be with them,otherwise bad things happen when I’m not there.
Then came the moment when I received the British Council Scholarship. ‘I will have to move some mountains to leave this place,’ I thought. I suppose in the end God took pity on me and probably said,”Poor child has suffered enough,I will have to show her the green light!” The principal tried one last time,he said “we’ll send you,reject this scholarship.” I said, nothing, I kept remembering the saying,”A bird in hand is better than two in the bush.” I finally left that school.I only missed the innocent boys who tried to gobble me up,like the previous five.Later on ,I was their most favourite teacher!