The sudden gushing sound and fluttering of the curtains was followed by an engulfing calmness. There was silence everywhere.
Ahana sat in the darkness of her room and let the sound of the wind echo in her ears. After a chaotic day, the sound of the wind blowing over the mountain top somehow helped her drown her worries every single night. In all these days, the whistling breeze had become a melody for her.
As a child, when other girls of her age would indulge in fun and frolic, she would spend her days studying and planning a great future ahead. She had grown up to be a stunningly strong personality. Standing out as a topper and being perfect were two of her most preferred traits. She worked up the academic ladder to secure a masters from Australia and a PhD from USA.
She had always wanted to be a professor. But when she lost her mother few months back, she had no other option but to reject the job offer at Kansas State University and move to Shillong.
Shillong. A bit of tussock here and there. Gushes of cold wind. Pine trees competing with each other to feel the wind first. A wave of fresh scented petunias. Hot steaming momo’s. Beguiling scenic beauty.
Initially, she remained disturbed with the thoughts of a dream life that she had to abandon ruthlessly. But with every passing day, she started loving her new job as a psychologist. Decoding every simple and complicated emotion of the boastful mortal beings was a learning in itself. She wanted to make a difference in their lives, laying a positive impact in whatever way possible.
After a long tiring day at the Government Rehabilitation Center, she had just come back home. Standing under the shower, she let the warm water ease her stress buds. She was in a reverie of thoughts, thinking about her life back in Kolkata, when there was a sharp knock at the front door. She rushed out to find her dinner waiting at her doorstep. A local cook prepared her food every day and delivered it right on time. She picked up the box and made her way to the dining room. Before one small portion could make way through her hungry throat, the calendar hanging from the wall caught her attention. It was the 5th of September next day. A sudden pang of sadness hit her like a wave of nausea. She managed to gulp down some of the food and returned to her favourite spot – a rocking chair overlooking a giant glass window giving way to a breath-taking view of the scantily shattered houses and enormous hills trying to reach the aeonian sky.
She sat there silently, thinking about all the years she had spent as a student, idolising her mother and wanting to be a professor like her someday.
The first memory of Teachers’ Day crossed her mind. She remembered how her mother very insistently taught her to smile and wish all her teachers, “Happy Teachers’ Day”. Often she would mess up the pronunciations and wish everyone “Happy Cheaters’ day” so very innocently. Every Teachers’ day, she would see her mother wear one of her nice crisp silk sarees and attend the school’s cultural program. Her mother’s students would make beautiful cards and present her with flowers.
The striking sound of a lonely bell ringing at the Chapel afar in the silence of the night brought her back to the reality. Walking down the memory lane had made her lose track of the time. Realizing that it was too late, she let herself fall on the bed and dissolve her woes in deep sleep.
The next morning didn’t seem to be any better. She managed to mask the raging storm inside and carried a calm face in front of her patients. After a few hours, it was time for Lalam’s daily visit. Lalam was a fifteen year old boy. He was her first patient ever and needless to say, he had a special place in her heart. As Lalam walked in, he looked surprisingly tidier than the rest of the days. He even had a timid smile on his face.
Ahana was busy filling in her patient-response sheet.
“Good morning Lalam. Come have your seat.” She greeted.
With no response from his end, she looked up to find Lalam standing beside the chair at the other end of the table, holding a paper in his hand. He passed that piece of paper to Ahana and receded a few steps. The paper had a stick diagram made of charcoal showing a lady labelled as “Ahana Ma’am”. But the “Happy Teachers’ Day” written right below made her eyes well up.
“Lalam, thank you so much. But, you’ve got it a little wrong. This day is only for teachers. I’m just your counsellor”, she said.
“No ma’am, you are my teacher. When the whole world had given up on me, you taught me to build hope again. You told me that despite all the bad things in the world, the good part still exists. You made me believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that light will guide me home. You’ve been a map to this lost soul ma’am. You are my teacher”. Lalam smiled shyly.
All this while, Ahana had been listening silently. She got up and hugged Lalam warmly. Throughout the rest of the day, she met many other patients. So many faces, countless names. Yet, only one face resonated within her heart; it suggested that she was here for a very strong reason.
At the end of the day, she took the usual route to return home. She watched the setting sun intently as she did every day. Only difference was, she felt at peace after a really long time. The storm raging inside her heart earlier had been silenced. Although the sun was setting, the proceeding night was filling her with hidden brightness. After months she could feel alive again, rather than just mechanically fulfilling her responsibilities in a mundane existence.
Maybe it was indeed a Happy Teachers’ Day! This time a young boy had taught her the lesson of a life-time.