On September 5, every year, we honour the most important people in our lives after our parents- our teachers. We learn many important lessons from teachers – both academic and non-academic – guiding us whenever we stumble in the walk of life.
All of us have a few teachers we remember fondly – these are the ones who are etched in our memories forever as torchbearers.
This year, on the occasion of Teacher’s Day, I am reminded of one of the most distinguished teachers of Thane – Alu Shroff. All of 80, Alu teacher, as she is fondly called, dedicated her whole life to this noble profession, teaching for half a century.
Alu teacher joined St John the Baptist High School in 1951 as a Mathematics teacher. She retired from the school as Vice-principal, the highest position possible. Universally revered by students and colleagues, this remarkable woman represents the spirit of a perfect teacher – an extraordinary combination of intelligence, wit, compassion, perseverance and dedication. Her frail body structure notwithstanding, her stature in the teaching profession is nothing less than a giant. All those who have studied or taught in St John the Baptist High School, anytime between 1951 and 2000 would vouch for this. She was also conferred the Best Teacher’s Award from the Education Department, Thane Municipal Corporation.
Alu teacher reminds one of Mother Teresa – not only does she look like her, but just like Mother’s Teresa’s life, her life too is simple, yet inspiring. She has even remained unmarried like the Mother! Ironically, Mother Teresa left her physical body on September 5, 1997.
Just last year, I had the privilege of meeting Alu teacher at a function organised to honour her. After the function, I offered to drop her home and she insisted, in her typical soft-spoken manner, that she would not like to trouble anyone and that she would walk it down – this despite not being able to see clearly and being extremely weak. To be able to spend time speaking to such a wonderful and selfless human being, who speaks like an angel incarnate, and to receive her best wishes and blessings in person, was indeed a joy to behold.
Since that function last year, Alu teacher’s health has deteriorated even further and she is now totally homebound. Old age has rendered her homebound. But her life has been an example for the rest of us to follow.
This year on Teacher’s Day let us all pray for Alu teacher’s well-being in her twilight years. Let us also thank all the teachers like her who have made a difference to thousands of us in a silent, selfless way. May their tribe increase!