I normally give my car to the valet guy to park at the gym but it was night and it was raining and I didn't see him so I parked it myself. After finishing my workout, he offered to bring it around to the front of the gym but I declined because in truth, I didn't have any money to tip him. So running off sheepishly, I got into my car on the other side of the road and slowly, cautiously began reversing into that chaotic street with whatever vision I could possess inside a rain splattered car on a dark street with blitzing lights.
For some reason I looked to my right and spotted a small, white-clad man with spectacles and a much-cuter-than-but-a-lot-like Woody Allen face. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it!
It was my maths tuition teacher from twelfth standard. The only maths tuition teacher I had who counted. For those of you who don't know, especially in Chennai, all kids are expected to go to tuition classes in the all important tenth and twelfth public exam years, irrespective of their capabilities. It's a rite of passage. The top students go to learn exam skills (which questions are bound to come in the paper and other tricks) and the others go to get what the school which moves at such a fast pace can't give them. My maths teacher, an endearing, limerick-making soul did try. But I was beyond help. I was really good but some irrational fear kept me back in only this subject. It was weird that something I really loved didn't love me back. Especially when it was a thing, not a person.
So this maths teacher was the one who transformed a paranoid, maths-loving but morbidly maths-phobic person into a smiling, peaceful 87% scoring, peace-with-demons-making school graduate. The one who made studying so easy with the help of practice papers. The adorable 90 + teacher who walked and walked and walked all around my part of town, tuition to tuition just because he didn't want to "stay at home watching TV". The one whose number I had lost, whom I feared had been long gone and whom I never really got to thank properly.
Now this may not be really relevant this but my father's a bit older. Living with him has endowed me with a fondness, a soft corner for older gentlemen beyond a particular age in the sense that I feel protective about them. I'm not really the type who feels children need fighting for. They do but they have enough people battling for the preservation of their innocence. My heart goes out to the older men and women, mostly men (because women are quite strong in this sense) who don't really have the energy that they used to have and who have to face a faster, glitzier world that wants to drop everything and move on.
So, meeting my teacher. I wanted to tell him so much. Thank him for helping me through a difficult period? Thank him for bringing sweetness and goodness into my life? Thank him for being a great teacher? But the words didn't really come out right. They overflowed and he nodded, he remembered me only after a while but he did. He asked about my former classmate and friend who had introduced me to him. He asked about my parents. Our conversation was less than sparkling and soul-searching but it was essential. It was special. God gave me my chance at gratitude and at filling the small hole in my heart that was incomplete. Nothing much was said but so much was expressed. I held his hand with both of mine and simply repeated "I'm so happy to see you"