A lesson to remember I hid behind a tree anxiously peeping to search for any one coming my way. I let out a sigh of relief when I found no one in the field in front of me. Then I heard a voice above my head. “Found you” I jumped away and turned to see Mickey mouse hovering over the tree in mid air, laughing at me. “This is cheating. You can’t fly when we play hide and seek.” I said, feeling cheated. “That was not part of the game rules.” Mickey mouse stuck out his tongue playfully and flew past me towards the small house at the top of the green hill. I ran following him through the valley and I jumped up into the air. We flew together, passed so many colourful kites and balloons, which changed their colours when we touched them. The sun smiled and waved at us and we waved him back. The sun said something but I could only see his lips moving. “Sorry, I can’t hear you. Speak loudly.” I shouted. The sun again said something, but I understood it. He was calling my name. The sound came closer and closer. Then I got snapped out of my daydream. In front of me stood Miss.Shalini, my favourite teacher. She was smiling at me. I looked back at our classroom wall. There Mickey mouse was sitting under a tree near a green hill with a sun smiling down at him. “I think you should become a writer when you grow up.” I sat still wondering what she meant by a ‘writer’. We have already learned alphabets and started writing words. So we are all writers. Then why did she tell me that I should become a writer in the future. ‘Grown ups are strange.’ I wanted to ask about it. But I had already given her an idea and her mind had prepared a question she was going to ask us next. “Okay kids, I have a question for all of you. What do you want to become when you grow up?” Kids in the front row started answering enthusiastically, except for a few shier ones. Most of them just told their parent’s profession. One boy even managed to tell that he wanted to be a scientist. At that time I had no idea what that thing was. Maybe even he doesn’t know what that really is. Parents do have a habit of forcing their wishes on their children. My chance was soon coming up. It didn’t take me a lot of thinking to come up with an answer, because I had already thought a lot and decided about what I want to become when I grow up. And finally my turn came. “Teacher, I want to be a sweeper.” I had watched our school sweepers cleaning our school. I had marvelled at the way their long broomsticks swept away the wastes in a clean fluid motion. I loved the trailed patterns that their broomsticks leave on the soil. Hearing my answer my teacher started laughing. I didn’t understand why she was laughing. I think other kids also wondered the same. Then suddenly she stopped laughing because she noticed that she was the only one in the room who was laughing. At that age we were not aware of the hierarchy of social statuses that rules the world. She then continued asking the same question to others. That was our last period and the bell rang. My mom always came to pick me after school. Our house was only a walking distance away from my school. That day also she came inside and when I saw her I ran towards her and hugged. My teacher came behind me and told my mom about what happened in the class. They both started laughing at the choice of my future profession. But at that time I felt very bad because no one was taking me seriously. And the worst thing was I couldn’t understand why they were laughing. Finally I asked, “Why are you two laughing? What’s wrong with becoming a sweeper? They are the ones who clean our school and town and make it beautiful.” Hearing the words coming from a child both of them fell silent. At that time they might have felt smaller than the kid in front of them. They have realised that every job is having their own values and kids understand that better than them. They weren’t the only who got affected by that incident. It got imprinted on my mind like a painting on a fresh canvas. Years passed and I finally realised that a teacher is having the power to change the world. I also understood the bitter truth that some teachers are in fact doing the opposite of what they are supposed to do by corrupting the minds of the younger generation, knowingly or unknowingly. Then I finally decided to become a teacher when I grew up. I wanted to be the spark that ignites the fire in my students, who would then later make this world a better place than before. When I informed my mom about choosing teaching as my profession, she recalled the incident that happened when I was in my kindergarten. She informed me that my Shalini teacher told her once that, me, her little student had taught her a lesson to remember that day. I felt so proud of myself that day. I joined the same school as a biology teacher after completing my course. Whenever a new batch of students arrive, in their first class I would ask them the same question that changed my life. “What do you want to become when you grow up?” By Valentina St. Theresa’s Convent School, Nellimoodu
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