My favourite teachers at school in Ahmedgarh

Author: 
Bal Anand

Bal Anand was born in 1943, in a village about 20 km south of Ludhiana, in a family of saint-scholars who practised Ayurveda. Graduated from DAV College, Jalandhar, and did Master in English Literature from Govt. College, Ludhiana. After a stint for a few years as lecturer, joined the Indian Foreign Service. Served in nine different countries and retired as India’s High commissioner to New Zealand. Now reading, reflecting and writing in nest in Delhi, on the East Bank of Yamuna.

A turning point in my life came in May 1951 when I was admitted in the third grade in the High School in Ahmedgarh, the nearby town. The family took some more time to shift there from the village. I felt quite at ease being exposed to a refreshing atmosphere of freedom, patriotism and nationalism surcharging this school named, soon after Independence, from Public High School to ’Mahatma Gandhi Memorial National (MGMN) High School’.

The eight years of the continuous studies in the school provided me with ample opportunities to look all around far beyond the lessons in the class rooms. I must thank Master Ashni Kumar, a senior teacher of English and Social Studies who had started mentoring me right from my sixth class.

Front: L to R: Master Ashni Kumar Ji (1916-1999), Varoon (Bal Anand’s son), Aradhana (Bal Anand’s wife). Back: Aditya (Bal Anand’s son), Inquilab Singh (Bal Anand’s classmate), Bal Anand. c. 1986

I do remember that I was able to broadly read, when I was in the fifth class, the Golden History of India by Vishva Nath, M. A., B.T., and Jagan Nath Grover B.A., B.T., senior teachers of History, Arya High School, Ludhiana. It was a popular text book for high classes and belonged to my uncle appearing for matriculation.

I remember vividly how among brief sketches of the contemporary historical personalities: Winston Churchill was described as the plain and blunt speaker; Joseph Stalin was the son of a cobbler of Georgia; De Valera was a great revolutionary freedom fighter, and so on.

Among the teachers of history at school, Master Ram Kishore – in his typical Poadhi dialect of Punjabi – would become deeply emotional in praising Chanakaya, the great teacher and his gifted disciple Chandra Gupta Maurya. Then, he would blame all the current ills of the country on the lack of respect for the teachers! Kishori Lal Sahir would quote couplets of Persian and would turn the lesson into play – assigning the students roles of characters of history, e.g., showing Hemu getting wounded with an arrow in the eye by covering the eye of a student with the corner piece of his turban!

Giani Romesh, known for punishing students with Bhrind-painful pinches, would often use the idiom, Dushmanan de Dand Khatte kar Ditte. It was not by making them eat tamarind, but putting up a brave fight.

The most reputed teacher of history, Geography and English in our school was, however, Master Ashni Kumar, a skeleton-thin person known for his razor sharp intellect and sharp satirical remarks. I was destined to be his favorite student and remain so for more than four decades till he breathed his last at a ripe old age in 1999.

Comments

Wonderful dedication to a dedicated teacher!

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