MIDWAY : The English teacher

One of my better friends, Thakur, who is an English teacher, was sharing his bittersweet experiences with me the other day. He complained of his meagre salary despite working for nearly ten hours a day, teaching in different schools and colleges. “I lead a

miserable life”, he complained. “The perks are nearly not enough to make ends meet.”

The money spent on food, rent and other essentials consumes the bulk of his meagre salary.

“I have not given up the big dreams I left my village with”, he recalled.

He had come to Kathmandu in search of better opportunities. His plight reminds me of life’s endless frustrations that come with increasing responsibilities as one grows up.

My friend sometimes abhors his profession. But he has found some satisfaction in his calling. “The students give me great respect. There is nothing more precious than this. That, in turn, builds a strong bond between us.” Nevertheless, most of the times, he wants to leave everything and hunt for greener pastures abroad. My friend keeps changing his mind. He wants to do so many things but can’t make up his mind while burdened with all the responsibilities that he has to shoulder.

He never tires of blaming the government for not being able to respond to the people’s aspirations expressed through the recent Jana Andolan II. He holds corruption, groupism and sycophancy responsible for most of the ills the nation is currently sufferingn from. With his constant tirades against nearly everything under the sun, Thakur reminds me of a character, Krishna, in RK Narayan’s novel, The English Teacher, in many ways. The desolate character frets endlessly over his life. At thirty, he resolves to “cease to live like a cow” but is continually bereft of the feeling of a great chasm in his life.

Most of Thakur’s friends face a similar plight — continually dissatisfied and complaining about what they do and the meagre sum they pocket at the end of the month. But they have every reason to hold their heads high. What greater satisfaction can there be than to see the students “grow” under their care? Being an English teacher myself, I know what my friend is talking about.