Feels good to be returning to this page after a long break of almost a year. This year long break got me a masters degree! Then, it sent me to a two month long vacation to India where I attended two of the most awaited ceremonies of the year, my sister’s arangetram (her first professional bharatnatyam dance performance on stage) followed by my sister in-law’s wedding. The year also lead me to a graduation walk and gave me an opportunity to host Neeraj’s parents and my own sister at our home here in Purdue. Yes, it was a fun filled year!!
While I was enjoying this past one year, I always had this blog at the back of my mind. Finally, it succeeded in pulling me here on the Teacher’s Day.
The reminder of this day took me back to my elementary school or primary school, as we would call it. It had been a busy first week for us, as second graders, trying our best to learn English, Math and Science, one after the other. And then, one day, in the middle of the week, our new art teacher came in our class. I remember how anxiously we had waited for our art class, and finally it was here!! She was a new teacher and as soon as she entered, there was a breath of fresh air. She wore a beautiful printed silk saree and had white flowers in her neatly tied hair. She had a beautiful soft voice when she wished us Good Morning. Before we could settle down, she had already started writing her name on the blackboard with colorful chalks and decorative letters. We were awestruck with her artistic lettering. Then, briskly turning to her attentive audience, she asked us to write our own names in our drawing books with decorative letters. Suddenly excitement struck us and we got busy with our pencils and crayons, drawing our names. Dedication was visible with everyone’s tongue out and hands on colors. Where boys focussed on geometric straight lines for the letters of their names, each line sharper than the one before, girls were rounding their fingers for every letter to give them a curved edge. Meanwhile, our art teacher was roaming around between our desks, memorizing our names and admiring our art. We would know she is standing next to us when we got a strong fragrance of the flowers in her hair. Looking back at this first meeting with our art teacher, I felt this was the best way she could introduce herself with all of us.
As days went by, we reveled in the art of drawing, coloring, origami, etc. Our teacher would draw extensive scenes like a scene in the market, a rainy day, a day at the cricket stadium, etc. on the blackboard and they would all be life like. One day she drew a scene of our own classroom on the huge blackboard and the whole class clamored, trying to recognize themselves in the picture as she drew our caricatures. It looked like a mirror image of our class on the blackboard! And then, as usual, she would walk around our benches to see how we were drawing. My classmates would tug at her silk saree to get her attention towards their drawing. If she liked any drawing, she would raise it up in class and show everyone the good work. All of us would hope that our drawing be raised up in the class and we tried our best to achieve that target. Her craft lessons would end up with origami flowers, butterflies, airplanes, kites flying all over the classroom. Every festival of the year meant a new assignment specific to that festival and our homes were adorned by our own crafts like lanterns in Diwali and Christmas trees in December. We could feel our classroom gaining a new color everyday!
Very soon, our art teacher started taking extra art lessons at her home. Since we spent very less time with her at school, we started attending her weekend art lessons where we could indulge in more art activities with her. She would also help us with projects of other subjects, where we needed to do something creative. Her home was no less than an art museum, since she hung a lot of her art work, paintings and sketches on the walls. I remember a beautiful black and white pencil sketch of Mother Teresa, praying, and the only other color in the sketch was Mother Teresa’s blue saree border. Then there was a huge, artistic, intricately carved, golden colored wheel on one wall. It sparkled and looked magnificent. It was the replica of the wheel of Karna’s chariot, Karna being her favorite Indian mythology character. Then there was a beautiful sand painting of an aquarium. Our teacher told us that she had collected a lot of sand from one of their beach trips and made this painting. The blue water, several colorful fishes, sea weeds were all made from colored sand pasted on the paper and framed. There were madhubani and warli paintings patiently waiting to be hung on the walls someday. The house simply bathed in her art and creativity!
As our school and weekend art classes ended, I would wait for my art teacher to transform into an equally loving mother. One would expect her talents to pass on to me. But it just grazed past me and showered on my sister instead. In my case, pen became mightier than the brush!
Today, this teacher’s pets are spread far and wide, all over the world and are remembering her for bringing color to their life! My friends ask me about their art teacher, her health and her art even before they inquire about me. And, I just feel glad that I willingly shared her during the day and two hours over the weekend so that other kids could receive a fraction of her creativity.
Mom, stay happy in your artsy mess and wish you a Happy and Artistic Teacher’s Day! Love you!