I lost one of my English teachers this weekend. I lost one of my most favourite teachers this weekend. Suddenly. She wasn’t meant to leave so soon. But she did and I don’t know what to make of it. Ms Kakoli was, I cannot believe I’m using was for her, one of the sweetest persons to have walked this earth. And I’m not saying this because I had, have, a special regard for her in my heart. She truly was a gentle soul. But she’s gone now and I don’t know what good could have come of this.
I believe in God. I do. It’s one of those things that gives me strength when I’m low. Sometimes it helps me make sense of life too. But then there are times when I question the existence of this higher power. Today is one of those days. Yes, because if there was a God would he have taken away the only surviving parent of an 8-year-old? If there was God would he have taken away my teacher at such a young age?
My sister says she’s not sure about God but with the kind of injustice rampant all around the world, unfortunately, she’s not really shocked with the kind of tragedy that befalls people these days. She’s not wrong but it doesn’t make it easier dealing with the news.
It was in my school in Shillong that I first met her. It’s a small town, my Shillong, so if there is someone who is good at something, everyone more or less knows about him or her. She was one of the best English teachers in town. Everyone knew it, knows it still. So, when I reached high school, I was directed to her by my senior teachers in my school.
I remember sitting in her drawing room, writing essays, enunciating aphorisms and writing summaries of stories. She wasn’t your typical teacher, you know. She let me write without restrictions and then told me how I could improve on it. She told me that writing good English doesn’t mean using huge words. She taught me to convey my feelings and not to shirk away from baring my soul on paper.
If I close my eyes, I can see her sitting on her divan, just back from school, talking to us, asking us what we would like to write about. I remember I had to go down a good number of steps before reaching her house in Shillong. I always wondered where she would park her car when she bought one. I guess I’ll never get to ask her that. I always pictured her in that house, waiting for her students even after she had moved.
She was so full of life and dreams. I remember sitting with her one day when one of her best friends, another teacher of mine, came visiting. The latter had just gotten married and they shared stories, laughed, teased each other while I worked on my prose. If I close my eyes, I can still listen to her voice. It’s devastating that she’ll not talk to her students anymore.
I got to meet her again many years after graduation and this time with my husband in tow. I remember she welcomed us with open arms. I remember feeling so glad seeing her, this time married to a wonderful man. She was so happy and it made me so very happy seeing her like that. She was so much in love. It hurts to even think how all that changed suddenly.
A few years after we met, she lost her husband to a drunk driver. I remember being so devastated at the news. I didn’t have the courage to talk to her then. But we did a few days after that horrible, horrible accident and do you know what she told me when she got to know that I was pregnant then? She told me to take care, eat properly and not think about anything else. She was brave, so very brave. And even after losing the love of her life, she continued to live for her son and her students.
She once told me that her son and her students are the reason for her existence. If you see her Facebook page, you’ll see what I mean. Her students from all around the world are today in mourning. Her students from all around the world love her as I do. She touched our lives, gave us so much that today when she’s not there anymore, we have all lost a guiding figure. It’s a loss that is insurmountable.
A few weeks back when I was home with mom, she had liked and commented on so many pictures of mine on Facebook. I don’t know why but I couldn’t respond immediately. I thought I’ll respond to her when I have some time but I never did. I will never forgive myself for missing out on talking to her one last time. What I also will always repent is not sending her the first draft of the story I have written. I thought I would send her the book, if and when it is published. I should have just sent her the draft. If only, I had known.
You know, apart from my parents there are only 2 or 3 people in the world who I hoped would feel proud of me one day. One of those was her. And now there’ll never be a day when she can be proud of me if I ever achieve something. I can’t tell you how that empty that makes me feel inside.
But my loss or the loss of her students, though great, isn’t as great as that of her son. I cannot imagine how his little heart is going to cope with this loss. But I’m sure he has loving people around him. And I’m sure his parents will be his guiding stars watching over him. He is too small to go through this but I hope that doesn’t take away the zeal of life from him. But it isn’t going to be easy too.
You know for the past two weeks, I hadn’t published anything on the blog. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to do it. Disappointments have a way of getting to you. But I couldn’t have missed writing something about her today. I had to. She’s one of the reasons writing is what it is to me. So, this post is for her.
So, as I publish this today, I want to tell her and tell myself too that I’ll keep writing because I can’t think of any other way to honour her. I’ll keep trying to publish a book because I know she would have loved that. I’ll keep thinking of her when I publish something I’m remotely proud of. I’ll keep thinking of her everytime I conclude a post because she taught me to do that. I’ll keep praying for her kid because if God chose to deal this deafening blow to him, I hope he’ll keep him safe and happy going forward.
I’ll miss you, dear Ms Kakoli. But I’ll always keep your memories alive in my heart.