The Everyday Present


Note:
This story was written for a competition which asked to pen down a 1000 words flash fiction on ‘memories associated with your favorite book’.


“There is nothing more beautiful than painting the world with words”

Mr. P had one aspiration in his life – To strive and exhibit his best in whichever profession he opts to. The motto was to deliver the best of worlds and never leave a grime to complain. Satisfaction, which is what, mattered the most. The job satisfaction stood on top of the life pyramid pushing down the financial growth to the secondary hierarchy.  Mr. P knew life reveals in various grey shades and heartily welcomed every hues of it.

With several options in hand, his family situations made it inevitable to pick a job which would come with a ‘stay home’ option.  He opted to be a professor. He always wanted to be one since his childhood with many teachers in his family tree. Now the constraints had forced the obvious as an obligatory option.

It was a not a cake walk. Presenting the concepts to a class full of students in the most understandable and effective way was a continuous challenge. It called for an unremitting dedication.

A teacher effects eternity; He can never tell where his influence stops
– Henry Adams

When he used to teach in the class, he used to mentally hop, jump and dance with the concepts. He wanted the students to feel them and have the Goosebumps of amazement. He wanted to connect. Connect through the materials that were jazzing in the book. He wanted his students to see how the concepts rejoiced in the books through words and figures and dance along with the harmony.

In fourth year of his teaching career, he meets this student who sits in the first bench with a beguiling voice. She had a tone which would put her classmates to laugh, at-least to a handful, if not all. She used to ask questions until things logically made meaning to her. If she ever made any enemies then one substantial reason would be that she was way better than her peers.

It took two classes for the professor to have his favorite student. Not that she was the first one in four years. There were a few in every batch. But this girl was different. She was perhaps the favorite among all.

***

18th June 2016, the batch graduates and as the caps go high in the hoopla ceremony, the students completing their engineering education leap with excitement all ready to enter the professional world. It’s a general tradition for students to receive a ‘graduation present’. But that graduation professor received a present.  He uncovered it with lots of surprise to find a book – “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom.

The first page of the book read:

To the best Teacher in the world 

With Best Regards
TomBoy (Your favorite student)

The professor had not heard of the book yet. He decided to give a sneak-peak into the book that night. He had read five pages and could not stop the book. It was early morning 5.00am and he had finished the book, entirely.  The book was not read in one go. There were certain stops to halt and ponder. Some pages got tears. Some gave thoughts to look back and evaluate life.

Have I celebrated life this far? Could I have been better?

Professor had a mini library at home and this book, the one with life lessons from Morrie and Mitch was going to be his favorite. He was sure nothing else could replace this one easily, being so much close to heart and profession, gifted by his favorite student.

Then the professor thought, “Oh snap! Wait. May be there is already one. The lessons professor had learnt from his favorite student and the lessons she had taken away from his teachings”. They were maybe on equal wavelength, if not more!

It was from her he had learnt to write to ‘life’s special people’ on their birthdays. At first the professor had thought it felt good to receive writings on birthdays. But soon he learnt he was wrong, as it was double the happiness to write one.   Since then, he had made it out as a habit to write. It was from her he had learnt to give the cent percent to current work; no matter how much tiring was the previous work. It was from her he had learnt that, smile and being kind propagates to a larger distance than actually thought. It was from her he had learnt how to be a teacher’s favorite student.

All that the professor did was to teach to the best efforts he could and do his duty right. He was already getting the salary for the work he did. The compliment from the students was an additional bonus which nothing could replace. Apart from her amazing handwriting she also had an in-born talent to making pretty cards that fetched smiles from the receiver. She had prepared hand written letters and cards which were presented at occasions through the timeline of the program to the professor. The professor had treasured the cards which spoke about how dedicated he was.

After graduation, she had moved to finally catch her dreams of being an IAS officer and the professor moved to get his research degree. Both of their journeys had ups and downs. Though there was never an explicit mention, there were mails which kept updated about the ongoing efforts and dedicated work from either of them. While they both now struggle to achieve their dreams, they serve as a constant motivation to each other.

It is usual for a professor to find a favorite student. But it is blessing to find a teacher in a favorite student.

Is it not a god’s way of keeping touch with his favorite people?

The take away from the book, ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’, “Learn how to die, and you will learn how to live” however, is going to be a never ending inspiration.​​

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