Teacher's Day and Miss Aruna Jamwal

Urmila Chanam
Posted September 5, 2020 from India
Maharaja Harisingh Agricultural Collegiate School, Nagbani in Jammu and Kashmir, India
A picture from 1986 in Akhnoor cantonment, Jammu & Kashmir. I can be seen in extreme left wearing blue shirt, red pants and half jacket. (1/1)

There are some things which remain engraved in our minds no matter how many years pass by or how many different directions life takes us. One such memory is of my time as a class 4 student in Maharaja Hari Singh Agricultural Collegiate School, Nagbani situated on Akhnoor road off the main city Jammu Tawi.

My school had one of the best campuses with orchards, tall and majestic trees, a canal flowing inside the 350 acres of land, an extraordinarily big play ground in the primary section, laboratories, library and a sports complex. The secondary section was built on higher land and was connected by pathways and steps made of stones. In the time I studied there I was in primary section which had rows of classrooms built around the playground in a horse- shoe shape while my brother was in secondary section.

Growing up as an army kid meant getting up earlier than my peers, spending more time in travel because our cantonments were always far from the main city or town, leave home earlier, get home later and have very little time for playing.

The best part about school those days used to be my friends Jagdeep Mann, Sunaina Tickoo, Roopesh Bajaj and many others whose names I have forgotten, and my class teacher Miss Aruna Jamwal, a young Dogri woman who wore her light brown hair short till her jaws, clad in beautiful embroidered Kashmiri salwar suits, smiled very often and at the same time managed her students, that is us, effortlessly.  We admired her so much that we listened to every word she said, every rule she would lay down for us and at the end of the day, fight with fists down on each other to be at the head of the line which she would lead till our school buses just so that we enjoyed that closeness and attention with/from her.

The love-hate relationship between me and Jagdeep Mann, an officer’s son from Udhampur who also travelled for hours every day, centred around seeking attention from Miss Aruna Jamwal and his ignorance about north-eastern people.

Jagdeep would win brownie points for his excellent dancing skills to Sridevi’s numbers. Whenever we got bored and needed entertainment, Miss Aruna Jamwal used to call out for Jagdeep and say, “Aja beta Jagdeep, shuru ho ja.” What a great sport Jagdeep was, he would come out from the last benches which used to be his favourite sitting place, adjust his turban while one of us would close the door of the class, and begin dancing to the popular song “Main teri dushman, dushman tu mera, main nagan tu safera”.

I had my halo moments when Miss would choose me to rub the blackboard with the duster, such a coveted privilege at that age. I would walk towards the blackboard with the duster extra slowly as if it was a big task entrusted upon me. And Jagdeep would be quick to offer unsolicited feedback pointing to corners where I had not erased the chalk writings well enough. Delegated to write the date on the blackboard was like winning a jackpot.

At that young age, winning appreciation and approval from our teacher was the sole motivating factor to excel in academics.

A group of classmates decided to pool in money to buy a birthday gift for Miss Aruna Jamwal. A total of Rs. 2 was collected after many reminders and the in-charge for procurement, Sourav, was selected from among us as he was the smartest and most confident. Sourav told us his mother could easily buy the gift from the market.

Next, we had to decide what gift to buy! We had many options but the money was scarce and we had to settle for something that Sourav could buy without inconvenience. We voted for a gold earring and waited every day to hear the good news that it had been bought.

Sourav got a thin gold loop not bigger than a button wrapped in brown paper envelop as small as the content inside. It was rather unimpressive due to the size of the gift but a little voice consoled me, “It’s okay even if its small because it’s a gold earring.”

On the D-day, the birthday gift was given to Miss Aruna Jamwal and we all encircled her while her face broke out into a big smile and she hugged and thanked us. I can still remember the joy I felt to give that gift.

During the coming months I would always look out for the gold earrings on her earlobes every day but those earrings were never worn. It would trouble me to think if the gift had been cheap and worthless and I felt ashamed to have given such a gift.

Soon we all got busy in preparing and appearing for final exams. My parents had decided to shift me to another school, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Akhnoor the following year and the good times spent in my class with friends and teachers was soon to come to an end.

My last day in school coincided with the report card day where parents accompanied their wards to collect the report card from the class teacher, have discussion on performance and weaknesses in the student that needed help and attention. It was a happy occasion where we made our parents meet our friend’s parents too.

A large crowd had gathered around class 4 in the morning and from afar we could see Miss Aruna Jamwal coming from Principal’s office in secondary section with a stack of report cards. She was wearing her finest salwar suit reserved for special occasions and when she got closer, I saw the gold earrings on her earlobes.

The joy from seeing her wear the cheap metal earring gifted by her class students to match her elegant ensemble on such a big day of the academic year was much greater than securing the first position in final exams.

When mother informed my class teacher that I would be leaving the school, I could see the sadness in her eyes. I was so small that I didn’t even say a proper good bye or take down her permanent address. All I have with me is the report card signed “Aruna Jamwal” in her beautiful slanted handwriting, a dream to go back one day and things she taught me over time to always compete with myself and my best performances and not with others.

Teachers leave a mark on our personalities because young children’s exposure to adults other than parents is to teachers. I was fortunate to have a teacher who was inspiring, kind, understanding, intelligent, expressive, energetic, fun, who took keen interest in my progress, understood my physical exhaustion from travelling four hours daily in a three-ton army school bus from Akhnoor, near India-Pakistan border to Nagbani and back but most of all for the capability to return love with love.

 

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Here is a special Teacher's Day wish to all the teachers today. Somewhere, someone will remember you for life.

My story " Miss Aruna Jamwal" was originally published on 5th September 2020 in the English newspaper The Morning Bell in Manipur (India).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments 10

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Andrace
Sep 05
Sep 05

Hi ,
Thank you for celebrating a special person! My Mum was a teacher and I recall that she always said the best career ever for women was being a professional teacher due to the priviledge they have to mould lives.

'Glad to note that your teacher made such a great impact on you and so many others. What a great insight "to always compete with myself and my best performances and not with others." Warm nostalgic memories too. Such joy to share in the purchase of a gift for your teacher, although I felt your disappointment when the earrings weren't worn too. She must have kept them for a special occasion, since they were gold.:)

Love and hugs, Sis.
E. J.

Urmila Chanam
Sep 06
Sep 06

Dearest Andrace,
Teachers have high interface with children in their formative years. While a good teacher has a lasting impact on an individual, a bad teacher has a deep negative impact like trauma in persons. Teaching profession according to me is such an important vocation and sector and calls for investment and much attention from the government and education sector. For example, in India teachers are paid very less in comparison to other jobs so how can the best of talent be engaged to be teachers.

Thank you for reading my story and writing to me; I am so grateful. Thank you to your mother for having been a teacher. A happy Teacher's Day to her too.

Much love from India,
Urmila Chanam
[email protected]

Andrace
Sep 07
Sep 07

Wow, Urmila. Really? Teachers paid less in India? That is not fair. In many countries, teachers are considered public servants, hence they are virtually on the same salary scale as their colleagues in other government institutions. No worker would be pleased earning less than colleagues and a lot goes into teaching. I recall that it was my first Mathematics teacher who made me to dislike the subject till date and that dislike eventually led me to the humanities, whereas I have met people whose experiences were completely different from mine with their own Maths teachers.

To encourage teaching and teachers, there was a great programme the Nigerian government had when my Mum trained as a teacher. Student teachers earned salaries; hence many people went into teaching then and made it difficult for anyone to know those who joined the profession for passion. However, the programme had long been jettisoned. Now, it is those that are not admitted to the universities or polytechnics or who don't get admitted to their choice courses in the universities that are trained as teachers, hence the motivation is really low and more of a "garbage in, garbage out" kind of thing.

Thank you for your service and raising your voice. We must not be silenced.

Love and hugs,
E. J.

Nini Mappo
Sep 05
Sep 05

Such a lovely heartwarming tribute to teachers everywhere, who, as you said, spent the bulk of their times with our children as we go about doing other things as parents. Teachers are indeed special, and it is great to hear that even children recognise that.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories with all of us

Urmila Chanam
Sep 07
Sep 07

Dearest Nini Mappo,
Children love, mimick, follow their teachers and teachers enjoy a unique and special privilege with children. All the more reason, we should celebrate good teachers sister. Next week I will be sharing a story on colleagues, hope you will read that too.
Much love always,
Urmila Chanam,
[email protected]

Hello, my beloved sister Urmila,

You're such a great storyteller. Thank you for bringing us back to the days of your primary school. Such a huge school! I've never experienced being in a school bus. I only watch that in the movies.

Reading your story reminds me of my own primary days; however, my school was a small one with less than a hundred students from kindergarten to elementary. I wonder who is my "Miss Aruna Jamwal" back then.

On the other hand, while reading your story, I remember the days when I volunteered as a teacher. This resonates with me, "At that young age, winning appreciation and approval from our teacher was the sole motivating factor to excel in academics." I observed that in my students, too!

It was so thoughtful of you to give Miss Jamwal a gift! It was so sweet of her to wear it on a special occasion, too. I'm impressed that you still vividly remember those moments with her. She must be a teacher worth remembering, dear. At the same time, my heart is silently wishing that my students remember me, too. I used to receive lovely notes and gifts from them. There was a time when one batch composed a song for me. How I wish I had a record of it. That was the time when technology wasn't handy like today. Love from children are the purest, isn't it?

Is there any chance Miss Jamwal could read this lovely tribute you wrote about her? It would be nice to know what her feedback will be. I would be happy if one of my students would remember as you do, dear sister Urmila. This is a gift worth treasuring. Thank you for loving and honoring teachers!

May all the lives you touch honor you, too! Congratulations on this publication! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Urmila Chanam
Sep 09
Sep 09

Dearest sister Karen,
Thank you for reading about Miss Aruna Jamwal. In adult life we meet so many people and by then we have already formed our perspective so in that sense, those we meet in our formative years are very special. I am sure your students remember you for the person you are and you will never know the stories that their hearts will carry all their lives, told and retold a dozen times to their children and grandchildren. This is the beauty of love and good work we do in our lifetime, the fruits from it are passed on as stories in families.

Much love and kisses from India,
Urmila Chanam

Beth Lacey
Sep 08
Sep 08

This is such a touching, heartwarming story, Urmila. I am glad to read it.

Urmila Chanam
Sep 09
Sep 09

Thank you so much sister Beth xoxo

Chi8629
Sep 19
Sep 19

Thank you for sharing.