Shishir (Winter) 2020 Stories - Runa Chatterjee


Legacy of an Idea

By Runa Chatterjee

Sometimes we feel it hard to open up, simply because of the fact that truth would ride over the fiction and what people will think about us.


It started on an aircraft where a young man sitting in the next row was looking at me time and again, and looked both eager and hesitant to talk to me. Even my husband followed that state of his, and maybe it was his serious appearance that deterred the man to approach me. However, he eventually did that, once we landed at the airport and were looking for a car to go to Kathmandu.


"Excuse me Ma'am," he came forward and asked, 'by any chance, are you Runa Ma’am?


Surprised, I nodded yes. He seemed to be one of my students, anyway. But some more surprise was waiting for me, as the man went for his wallet and in a flash pulled out a laminated photo from it and raised that to me - "Ma'am, isn't it you? Can you identify me here? I'm Kinkar, Ma'am!"


I felt amazed!


So many years and so many faces and so many barrages of events. I took that photo from him, a cut piece from the yearly photo of the class. There was I, and so was Kinkar, sitting close to me, circled in the photo. But why on earth had he laminated it and carrying it in his wallet?


He read my mind easily and said, "You must be wondering why I'm carrying this, isn't it, Ma’am? “His eyes were glistening and I felt there were two drops of shishir that were about to fall like two precious pearls.


"Yes, obviously!"


"It's because you changed my life and made me what I'm today!" His voice choked and he bent down to touch my feet. This sudden splurge of emotion touched my chords as well, but still amazement took the upper hand, as to how I could change the life of someone who I had taught only in class II and never met thereafter!


My hubby was no less startled, but he also seemed a bit affected by seeing two adults in tears all on a sudden. By then Kinkar gathered himself and said, "I've my car waiting there, would you mind to take a lift from me? I would then have the chance to reveal everything to you, Ma’am."


We followed him and took our seats in his car, still out of wits to comprehend that out-of-the-world experience.


"Ma’am, you gifted me an idea," Kinkar spoke from the front seat, "which you might not remember, but that idea proved enough for me to carry myself this far."


"What was that?"


"You told me a story in which a boy conquered his fear and won back his life. You told me that was a true story and advised me to do the same thing as the boy in that story. Can you remember now?"


The axons, dendrites and medulla oblongata are peculiar components in us; at one time they would make you cry for data, and the next moment they would flood you with all! I recalled everything at that moment. This was the boy who lost his father all on a sudden, and had to bear the brunt of living alone in their isolated house amid the jungle of construction work going around. His mother would go out to work and would return only in the late evening, while Kinkar would have to spend the time all by himself. I came to know all this when he enquired if he could stay back in the school and I had asked him about the reason behind such a strange request.


Tears are also mysterious in nature, or else why they would choose to reappear without any other prelude. I found my voice choked, yet I answered, "Now I've recalled everything Kinkar. This is great to know that you've won over that plight."


"Thanks, Ma’am. Yes, I used to feel like dying in fear whenever there was any odd sound nearby. But from the day you passed on that idea, it was a different life for me altogether. I simply started experiencing wonders. That fearful hollow of loneliness changed into a caring nature and opened a floodgate of imagination for me... in fact I can keep talking about that. I get very carried away with this fact of my life. It was like the world against me earlier which took a U-turn into a world that is backing me up everywhere!"


"I'm amazed Kinkar," I said, resisting the force of emotion that was trying to come down in torrents through my eyes. I recalled everything by now, vivid and clear.


Kinkar went on. "It was that idea which has made me a fearless and confident man. In fact, I ramified it in many ways and found it works just the same!"


His words might have sounded insane to anyone, but his involved state told us he was talking from the depth of his soul; it was his inner voice.


By now my husband became curious. "May I know what that idea is?"


"Why not, Sir?" Kinkar answered, "That year I lost my father and my mother had to join the work. And I became a home-alone kid in a small house in the upcoming Rajarhaat- Newtown area. We didn't have anyone to support us in anyway, and by a week or so, life became unbearable for me. It was then that Ma’am discovered everything and told me to do a thing that made all the difference."


"But what was that?"


Now I felt embarrassed for the first time. What if my husband laughs out at what I had told him to do? But Kinkar outsmarted the scene before going to the main point, "Sir, I don't mind if the world finds it silly, but what works for one, that matters to him. She told me to collect two dead leaves from any tree and then imagine a bright and happy myself behind the closed eyes, and then to blow those leaves out after uttering a phrase, "All my fears and worries are dead leaves. I'm getting free of them, NOW!"


So little an instruction bringing in so much emotion! I wanted to get away from the situation. While my hubby comforted me, Kinkar went on, "I kept on doing that from then on, and it did the world of wonders for me. And now, after going through the grinds of management education from abroad, I truly realize the value of mind programming at an early age. Ma'am's idea was one such thing. I imagined a beautiful me, and believed in that little act which in reality blew away my fears and worries just like dead leaves!"


On the other hand, I remembered that I couldn't sleep that night after learning about the hapless state of Kinkar, and it was early in the morning when that idea came to me and I had passed it on to Kinkar. That was that. I didn't have anything like mind programming or else going on in my head; it was just a desperate wish to pull him out of this situation that was working in me.


While Kinkar and my hubby became engaged in an anatomical dissection of the event, I drifted in my thoughts…. and saw a group of little angels flying in the sky, each one holding a beautiful white canvas.


Yes. They are our students, I thought, and we are the ones who are privileged to paint the canvas of those pristine minds. And today I am the lucky one to bask in the joy of that painting even after so many years! The droplets of Shishir had indeed turned into precious pearls


Runa Chatterjee from India is a Brainbench Certified English Professional. She has completed her M.A. in Public Administration, B.Ed., PGDM in Journalism & Mass Communication. She is a Certified Global Career Counsellor from UCLA (University of California), and holds a Diploma in Education Management and a Certificate in Psychological First Aid from John Hopkins University. With 30 years experience as an Educator, she now works as the Headmistress of The Heritage School, Kolkata.


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