I saw them in a corner of a classroom, chilling out with the ad hoc Professor-cum-mentor. I am sure that the latter would not approve of this designation and would feel content to be listened to as an ‘important somebody’. I knew there was more to him the moment I had met him. Behind his impulsiveness lay compassion, behind his impatience and outbursts lay passion. I had instantly taken a liking to him. After all, it is not everyday that one meets someone who has the ability to prove to his audience that even his gossip sessions are loaded with pertinent remarks about something. Of course, he would have made a great activist if he was my age, but us youngsters envy the energy he brings to every classroom. He brings the ‘active’ in an activity. He was wondering if his lectures were soporific enough to make the class go to sleep, but I reassured him that he was not (and started wondering the same myself). If the students termed him ‘boring’ someday, I don’t know what they would choose for me, I thought to myself.
Fond of socializing, he often mentions the need for a small get-together at his place so he can treat us all to delicious food cooked by his wife. Under any normal situation, I would start thinking of ways to refuse the invitation, but my growing respect for him makes me keep my mouth shut. I don’t know if he is a good mimic, but he can make anyone laugh with his outrageously funny outbursts against the education system in the country. His colourful personality is quite in contrast with his simple dressing sense. Like so many elderly people that I know (including my grandparents), he epitomizes “simple living, high thinking”.
But yesterday, his simplistic acts of kindness got me thinking. No wonder I am here, typing about him. I saw those two students, happier than usual. On closer examination, I found the Professor helping them write anecdotes on a blog page about the problems they faced while communicating in English. I felt touched and thankful during that moment. I felt touched because I saw his intervention and his timely help as an act of kindness. I felt thankful to him for having provided attention to a group of students, who, but for the duration of the roll-call, often go unnoticed. I also felt humbled because it inspired me to become compassionate in creative ways.
My silent gratitude knew no bounds, as I had finally found someone who truly made me understand the meaning of a few words that I had scribbled on a magnetic sheet which stared at me from my almirah-“No student is a problem, but every student has a problem”, “Passion for what you do, compassion for whom you do”.