Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Final Lesson.

Mahadevan was a simple man, without much ambitions, without a yearning for riches or without any kind of inhibitions about living in a very moderate fashion, in his small flat at the Teachers Colony. He was highly contented with his profession as an English and History Teacher for the high school students. He had no more desires and led a contented life. He believed that he should not marry and considered marriage as an unnecessary additional responsibility, a luxury he felt, he could avoid.

And so his life rolled along the years and as he reached the last bit of his middle aged career, he realized that he had devoted everything to his profession. He had won the ‘Best Teacher Award’ around five times and held this distinction very sacred and felt it was the only thing of most importance in his life. Yet, there was this sense of being incomplete, there was this feeling of regret that in his lonely journey of life, his footprints would not sustain their presence on the sands of time.

It was a bleak and cloudy morning, when he awoke with tears in his eyes. It was only the previous day that he had left the school, never to go back again. He had retired. It was not easy for him, and there had been a lump in his throat, as the children sang in his honour. He felt like bursting out and crying, but he had maintained his composure, he had been the silent, good teacher to the last.

As the days rolled by eventlessly, Mahadevan realized the futility of his life. He had nothing to do, other than eat, sleep and read. He was tired and felt he was living a life, just for the sake of living it. He had been a strict disciplinarian and had no concerns with his health. He tried to seek solace in spirituality, but all the years having contributed and having been a part of the society, he found the ways of detachment of the spiritual life a bit too harsh upon himself. But, still his mind was not at rest.

After a few weeks of intense thought and grief, he decided that there was nothing else much to do, than end his life. He did not have the riches to roam the world and enjoy life nor did his principles allow him to spend lavishly. It wasn’t a cowardly decision, he assured himself. He was doing this so that he wouldn’t be a burden to the society later. He had planned to kill himself and was merely speculating how..

On a cloudy evening, as Mahadevan sipped his coffee and kept thinking, there was suddenly a knock on the door. On opening the door, he found it was none other than his old favourite student Seetharaman. He wore a deserted look, unshaven and unkempt. Seetharaman had always been a bright student, and it was with great pride that both student and teacher had rejoiced, when he had got the job of a government clerk.

“Good Morning Sir! “, he quipped.
“Good Morning.”, replied Mahadevan, noticing the sarcasm in the tone of his favourite student.

As Mahadevan, seated his student and prepared coffee for him, he recollected how Seetharaman`s marriage had been an unhappy affair. His wife, unlike him had great ambitions and had winning ways due to which conflicts arose too often. One thing had led to another and his wife had recently filed for divorce, leaving Seetharaman, alone, poorer and unhappy, and dejected with life. He had taken to smoking and was losing his life, something Mahadevan had all the while felt very dejected about.

As, he poured the coffee, he made a resolution in his mind, that he would speak to this fine young man and make him realize that he needed to live a better life, fight and win against all hardship life, had put in front of his path.

“Rama, the problem with you is that you give up too soon. It was like that when you were at school also. Life is long, it is not a bed of roses. You have your entire useful years of your life in front of you, and here you are looking like, you are the only survivor of some earthquake”, stressed mahadevan.

“Sir, unlike you I hadn’t decided on practicing celibacy. I had dreams of having a family, loving children, a life of harmony. Today all my dreams are shattered. I have even contemplated suicide…”.

Seetharaman, hung his head and rotated the coffee cup.

“What ?, Rama, are you going mad. What is a marriage after all in life. It is just a phase when you shoulder more responsibilities. You could still go and compromise, adjust and live with your wife. Or you could even meet another person, who has the same outlook as you have, of life. Why suicide? You depress me..!! “. Mahadevan spoke angrily.

Seetharaman was red faced. He hadn’t been admonished before by his teacher and he was not in his right state of mind.

“Sir, What would you know about love or marriage ?”, he muttered.

Mahadevan was hurt on hearing this. He knew that he should not lose his temper as well and after all he had a point. What did he know about love or marriage, he thought to himself.

“Sir, I’m sorry! I..” , seetharaman started to say, feeling sorry about his sudden remark.
“Rama, don’t feel sorry. What you said was right”, interrupted Mahadevan.

“Rama, when I was a child, I had this problem in my school that I was never able to learn mathematics. I always failed in it and was always scared of the subject. Once my teacher asked me to solve a particular problem on the blackboard and as I blinked and stuttered before him, he realized that I did not know to do it. He sent me back.

That night, the teacher came to my house and told me to solve it and he guided me slowly as I solved the problem effortlessly. He told me that day, to never have fear of a subject, fear of any situation, because we then get afraid of our lives. “

“Rama, in your case this is again what is happening, you are losing your courage, you are afraid of your situation, you are afraid of your life and haven’t spared a moment, a moment when you were not haunted by your misery, to think about your life. “

Mahadevan stood up and walked towards the window. He pointed outside and spoke to Seetharaman, “Rama, when our minds are clouded with misery, when we have assumed that we are defeated, often our brains don’t work properly. When we are haunted by our past, we do not have clear visions of the future. Your life is a gift from god and if you do not cherish it, you shall not fulfill the very purpose of this existence. The world awaits you outside and you still have a lot to give back to your soil, people and land.”

Seetharaman was by now, in tears…

“Sir, I understand sir, I understand. But unlike you I had not devoted my entire life to my profession. I had dreamt of a normal simple life. I never thought about anything else and when all my dreams have shattered, I thought there is no more meaning in life. I am sorry, sir. I’m sorry. It was wrong of me to think about marriage in the first place. Perhaps, like you, I must have devoted my life to a single cause“

Tears now welled up in Mahadevan`s eyes. “Rama, no you were not wrong and neither was I right. Life is to be lived as given. Take whatever comes as it is. It is the best for you. When causes vanish, you should be prepared to take up new assignments. I thought that there is a single cause in life, but life is full of causes. You too shall find them..”, after a pause, he continued “In fact they will find you..”

“Like how you found me “, thought Mahadevan to himself.

Seetharaman, was by now more sober and clear at mind. He thanked his teacher profusely.

“Sir, I was a fool. Life is truly a gift and there are people waiting for me, waiting outside in this world, in whose lives I can really make a difference.”, cried out seetharaman.

As Mahadevan bid seetharaman goodbye, there was a lump in their throats. The teacher is always sad about his students bidding farewell, but life has to move on. Though a teacher shall remain a teacher, and a student, always a student.

Mahadevan slowly walked to his bedroom, looked at the mirror and smiled at his reflection and spoke “ What a fool you were, Mahadeva!. What a Fool!”.


Marthyan said...

Well written unni, was that Roshan Seth in the Picture.

Gaurav Jain said...

I was deeply touched by this story. Is this a real story? if so, please give me the source.

It's true that everyone feels that he/she has some problem in life, but the fact is that everyone has some or the other problem. It was touching to read that Madhavan, who himself was contemplating suicide moments before, actually was teaching Rama about why life is so important. And that made Madhavan himself realize the truth. Really, it's a fact that untill we teach something to somebody else, we do not understand it fully ourselves.

Excellent post!

Dawn....सेहर said...

Amazing! You have the art of writing :)
First time here and I liked your way of guiding people through ur expressions and thoughts..

passerby55 said...

hi Srijith!

this post is a must for all to read!!!

All know this simple truth..

Somehow. sometimes you need someone to take you to the mirror and make you u see and realise the simple truths!!!

BRilliantly written...well done!


Srijith Unni said...

@Marthyan : Hi Marthyan, it`s actually a movie still, I found. I don`t know whether it`s roshan seth. Thanks for the appreciation anyway.

@Gaurav : No, Gaurav, it is something that sprouted in my imagination. but these things do happen, in real lives, also, I guess. I`m glad you enjoyed the story.

@Dawn : Welcome! You too have a beautiful blog. I like your verses a lot. I`ve been to your site. Somehow never got to comment.Thanks for your appreciation and support.!

@passerby55 : Thanks a lot!. Your name is sort of nice. passing by and leaving lasting impressions. Thank YOu!

Thank You, all for your encouraging comments.

Gaurav Jain said...

From your imagination? Wow! I must say, brilliant piece of work and thought-provoking imagination. And I agree with passerby55: this post needs to be circulated to all people - it will definitely benefit them all in some way or the other!


Maya Cassis said...

And what a wonderful lesson it is,indeed.

I have taken some life notes from in here about fear.I have always had a problem with facing my fears and I have failed to overcome it,still.

You have a wonderful flair for writing.

Srijith Unni said...

@ Gaurav : Thanks Gaurav!, you make me humble!

@Maya : Thanks to you, Maya. I was encouraged to write a story :-) It`s hugely satisfying to know that my thoughts have helped you.
Thanks a lot, for the compliment!.


Wonderful Srijith...U strike it again...I told u u have great writing hands...U always remind me of Narayan in your short stories...SO much simple but so nice....
"Rama, no you were not wrong and neither was I right. Life is to be lived as given."- Wow, these words were stunning....Not many people can say that and not many can even think about tht...
Marvellous job...I had postponed reading this bit from the past couple of days as I have been busy and I wanted to read it in peace as I wanted to capture the simplicity in which you write but still make it pronounced.:)

Helen Wang said...

A very nice but sad story. I like your posts are deep and profound.

Srijith Unni said...

@ Scribblez: Thanks a lot, gor your confidence in me, that I can write good stories. I believe it has helped me a lot, in gaining the courage to start writing itself. Thanks to you scribblez.! :)

@Helen Wang : Welcome in here.! :) I guess most of the nicer stories in life are a bit sad, but they are also not downright tragedies.
Thanks for your appreciation and commenting.!

Immigrant in Canada said...

I am only scared of failure!
but teaching other's abt values.. I succumbed to that once..it was easy for me to tell others not to feel sad, till i saw sadness face to face..now I stopped teaching!

Rose said...

Luvly story..

'What a Fool' we all are sumtimes for giving up on life so easily..



Has to be me said...

Awesome story srijith & v.well written as well. Simple yet so striking! Well done.

Thanks for passing my blog...keep visiting! :)

Jackal said...

hi..plzz take a look at my new post urgently..help to save ....

Srijith Unni said...

@ Immigrant in Canada (Nina) : Basically in this case it was not just about teaching others not to be sad, but of self-realization through experience that Life has causes, and will keep giving you reasons to live a better life.

@Rose : Yeah Rose, We give upon life easily. Thanks for coming around. Welcome !

@has to be me: Thanks for your compliment! Yes, shall surely come by more often.

@Jackal : I express my gratitude for bringing that up buddy. I`ve made my small contribution, thanks to you :-)

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

very nice story ... very gripping and fluent ...

thank you

the pic looks like a pic from Eicher .. is it ?

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...


Nish Niruthan said...

Very nice points you raise there. Reminds me of these Ingmar Bergman movies lol.

I hope you wrote the story yourself, because it is a very creative piece of work, and perfectly reflects how sometimes we advice others and suddenly realise that the same advice needs to be applied to our lives as well.

Nice blog overall too, keep up the good work :)


P.S : I think that IS Roshan Seth.

Srijith Unni said...

@Deepa : Thanks for the compliment! and about the pic, it is an old movie still, I`m not sure which one.. Sort of gelled with what I had n mind..

@Nish Niruthan : Thanks for your compliments and do come back often. And one more thing, Plagiarism is a serious offence, and since I have some serious literary aspirations, i dont want to have anything to do with that word! In simpler words.. Yes! I wrote the story. It is mine. and yours to read :-) Once again Thanks Nish!

Prash said...

@ the comments you made in my blog on Family,

Family is the basic unit of any society, not only India. I am ok if family helps to sustain the values, tradition and culture of a society. But if these values, tradition is so ridiculuous sometimes...one has to wonder why we have to continue with those "stuff".

Sacrifice exists in every relationship. Be it in family or elsewhere. But why "sacrifice" is the only way of showing our love to our family. People in India think that if i sacrifice something for my family i love them more. I do not agree with this concept of "sacrifice". Sorry...take all those bollywood and kollywood movies...don't we have enough crap of ridiculuous "sacrifice" ? This shows how the situation is...

I prefer the autonomy given to the youth rather than the over-protection like a jewish mother (or rather indian mother). One has to live his/her own life too...One can do that even loving their children (praying for them and being their well-wishers)

Why should one get angry when one somebody loves a person ? It's my brother who is going to live with his wife and not my parents. So they have to let my brother choose his own wife.

Well, I do agree that was a provoking title for a post. You should understand why this great writer said that...it is the context which made him said that. If he lived today i am sure he wouldn't have said that.

"Values" - "family values"...explain pls...then i shall decide whether i shall speak for or against.

PS: this looks a lovely post...shall read it later.

starry nights said...

Beautiful and well written post.These things do happen and it is a lesson for all of us.

Srijith Unni said...

@ Prash : Hi!, I understand your point and welcome the suggestion that youth should be given autonomy, but to just scrap and ignore Indian tradition, where parents live for their children and always want family to be one sstrong single unit is not done in a single go..! It has to be doen slowly. Changes take place slowly, but once these changes have happened, and like you say when youth have more autonomy, dont you think the bonding reduces to the level of Western families. When we talk about tradition, I am not talking about not accepting a different religion, and when I am talking about sacrifice I am not talking about the bollywood style sacrifice.. no..! But Prash, tell me, when you have children, say a girl, you grow her up, educate her and then you would obviously want her to settle in life well. At that point of time in your life, if you are able to voice the same opinion, then well and good, else there`s always the proverb "There`s nothing more constant than change." ;-)

@ starry nights : Hi!.. THanks or your compliment.

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

okie :)

Deepak said...

Excellent stuff..

Hats off to your writing style.

Jackal said...

very well written.....it ws long but iu made me read it fully. :)

Ajay said...

words have failed me. Thank you for such a write up

Srijith Unni said...

@ Deepak : Hey Thanks deepak, I`m still working on my writing style. :-)

@ Jackal : Thanks for reading it fully. hope it sustained your interest.

@ Ajay : Thanks a lot for the compliment and commenting. :)

Prash said...

very nice moral story. so many lessons can be deduced from this two characters who lived different lives with different objectives.

my mother fears that i am more like the teacher characte and end up one day, single at 80's nobody at my bedside when i am dying. she is crazy...she thinks this because i put my career first, and i have no plans to get married.

as you say, teachers will remain teachers and students will be students...but sometimes, things change, i have made very good friendship with my students. and they are very good friends now...the teacher-student relationship is no more there...so i think it all depends on people.

Srijith Unni said...

@Prash : Thanks for your appreciation. You are right. Teachers may go on to become friends too. But I somehow felt that bringing the student-teacher angle in here, will make the lesson more of a revelation for both sides. :-)

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