Mrs. Borgohain and What My Parents Didn’t Teach Me

Deuta (as we address our father) never discusses about his office at home, not much even with Maa (our mother). As far as I can remember, for me and my sister, his workplace had always been a ‘cool’ hangout place for us with ever smiling Uncles-Aunties-Dadas-Baideos. Many a time, post-school, I used to spend time there with Deuta and his colleagues till office got over for the day. I was so thrilled and excited to see all the happy faces around me, working together, chatting, and the Canteen dada offering me Samosas and biscuits.

When I was studying in Std IV, Maa joined our school as a faculty for the senior students. Even then, the only thing we heard from her about job life was what they had for lunch.

Enter my life:

Till standard X, I wasn’t the topper of my batch, but I managed to stay in the above 85% grade’s group of students. ‘Normal’ mischiefs, gossiping during classes and sheepishly grinning while our Biology teacher tried sketching the human reproductive system – these were the only things that got me into trouble. I still recall so clearly – when me and my friend Arvind had got into trouble as our grinning suddenly decided to mutate itself into laughter when the teacher read out ‘Peee-nus’ (we knew it as ‘Pen-is’)! Btw, I say ‘normal mischiefs’ because 3 years into college, when I met a junior and asked how’s school, he responded with, “School is gone case. Few months back, the PT teacher caught a Std V student with porn CD’. Well, technology indeed is changing lives, I thought. Are those sheepish grins still around? I wonder.

Back to the topic:

So till Xth grade, the only issues I faced was a few punishments from teachers, arguments with friends with the occasional pushing and shoving, and the occasional worries over securing good grades in exams. I never felt helpless, and I don’t remember crying for such reasons. But yes, there was this lady teacher Mrs. Borgohain (name changed) who was not directly taking our classes, but somehow she seemed to hold a kind of dislike for me for some reason I never understood. Mrs. Borgohain had taught my sister in High School and had a similar strange attitude towards her as well, guess I received her not-so-welcome attention in kind of a heritage. I remember being made fun of thrice by her. The worst was when we met outside the Physics laboratory, in front of her favorite pupils from Std XII. The reason – I had this big pimple just beneath my right eye which had dried and seemed like a mole. This was what she said “Champak! Come here!!! Are you aspiring to be a thief with that mole?” and the seniors laughed out loud. I was hurt, but wasn’t sure if it was safe to respond. In fact, I didn’t know how to respond, I gave a foolish smile and stood there till she sternly said “Move now!”. Two days later, my nails tore away the pimple. It bled a lot, the scar faded away with time. But the memory stayed. The other two incidents remain with me as well. For many others, the way would have been to simply rebuke the teacher for her bullying behavior. They say ‘Forgive and you shall be at peace’, I so much agree with the saying. Because I haven’t been able to forgive her, and it’s me who’s mind is still plagued.

Why I am saying all these? Because I didn’t understand then that few years down the line, we all are surrounded by such people. The fact is, there have been all kinds of people around us since we were born and people like Mrs. Borgohain have also existed.

Fortunately, unfortunately, college life went smoothly for me without having to confront any sequel of Mrs. Borgohain. Problems were restricted to GPAs, a few thoughtless fights with friends and dates…job life started immediately after college. Again, fortunately, unfortunately, I was blessed to have been put into a team full of caring and cool seniors, affectionate batch mates (one of them is like family now!).

But why unfortunately? Because it was only delaying the cure I so badly needed to survive in the long run.

Competition – this word deserves so much more importance than we actually give it. We often tend to restrict the word’s meaning within the usual range of getting better grades than fellow-students to being better at sports, getting in the good books of our bosses to the appraisal ratings. But many of us like me fail to understand is that competition brings out a hoard of Mrs. Borgohains in front of you. And if not prepared, you would do just what I did 16 years back – stand there with a foolish smile on your face while everyone ****s you up mentally.

Know what I feel my parents might not have done right while raising up me and my sister? – They didn’t discuss people, forget about their colleagues, they did not even discuss about our neighbors in front of us. And hence, we both children grew up in a wonderland surrounded by good people. Now putting the entire blame upon them would be wrong as well – they did teach us to be responsible, well-behaved and hardworking – traits which have enabled us to keep going forward despite the circumstances. In fact, whenever Maa senses something is wrong, she would say, “Toi nijor kaam kori jaa bhaal koi, karu beya nibisaribi, baki ji hobo logia ase nije hoi thakibo” (You carry on with your work diligently, never think bad for anyone, and the rest would happen as it should be on its own)… am I being stupid and dumb to give so much importance to this topic…? May be this is what not being smart is.

I believe many of you reading this would feel connected with this situation – when someone rudely taunts us and our immediate reaction is either silence or a halfhearted smile…or a heated reaction. When silent, hours after the incident, we would be like ‘Darn! I should have responded like this!’. So how do we understand what is wrong with us? Or is it even wrong? Many of you would say “I prefer to be silent and ignore”. Well, if you have successfully ignored, congratulations, you would be having a good night’s sleep when home. But for the ones who ponder over what happened and are unable to sleep…what is the solution?

And arguing is not even last in my list, when I try responding – after two lines, emotions take over and tears roll down even when I don’t mean to cry! Yuck! And every time this happens, it kills me to feel embarrassed and angered about myself! Till college life I never remember tears in an argument – because we didn’t argue, we fought it out healthily. But that’s not a very feasible solution in a workplace. No, am not saying I want to hit my colleagues…though I know many of you might feel like doing that as well.

From what I have seen in my short tenor of work life, and this completely is my personal observation – if at your farewell, majority of the colleagues have nothing else to speak about you but the standard sentences like, “He is a very good person at heart. Very helpful.”, it simply means you have been just another simpleton, an ‘Unsmart’ person and there would very few who are going to miss you when you are gone.

The requirement of this situation perhaps is a proper defined methodology which inculcates in individuals an additional angle of personal growth since their childhood. Our school curriculums do not teach us how to handle people, in fact, we do not even have counselors in our schools. Where does a student go when he faces a Mrs. Borgohain? Or should the child grow up tormented by the unpleasant memories like me?

Today when I look back, I realize, her words would not have had the power to bring down my confidence if I had learnt to not allow her comments to even touch me. But no one taught us to protect ourselves from teachers, we were taught to always look up to them with respect.

Thankfully, since I shifted from college life to work life, I have always had my sister to discuss on the issues we faced. Since last few years, I have forcefully included my parents in our discussion as well, and it’s quite fun now! “We need to learn to be assertive”, my sister said one day. Well, I have done quite some reading on ‘how to be assertive’…I am still stuck at ‘how to’…

I feel for my parents, because now as a grown up, I see both of them and to an extent understand the challenges they have gone through in their lives. Since last few years, Maa has started opening up about the issues she faces with people and we have a healthy discussion about it- healthy because the sooner it is out of our mind, less is the pain circulating inside us. And these are learnings for me. But till date, we haven’t heard a single issue Deuta has faced, be it his 39+ years of work life or something about our relatives or neighbors. He is, for sure, a superman to me with this huge amount of mental strength – because now I know, Mrs. Borghain is everywhere – even in his surroundings.

Definitely, I would not have been able to understand these discussions as a child and I think a happy peaceful childhood was necessary to build the feeling of security within – it now takes us ahead as adults. But as we grow up it is also important to learn to defend our inner strength when there are attempts of unsolicited intrusions.

So, how prepared are you? And if you are a parent, do you wonder, how prepared are you kids???

By Champak Sharma

...and photographs are an amazing way to express the vivid shades of the poem called life. There are people and emotions, places and traditions, history and nature, moments and memories – and amidst them I discover the myriad colours of life. Their stories touch my being and I feel an urge to spread the reflections further. And photography is my medium for storytelling. The images are attempts to capture the essence of existences and in the process explore beyond the stereotypes. And with every photograph it’s an amazing feeling within…when a smile in an image spreads onto the lips of its viewer, serenity of a landscape captures someone’s imagination, ruins of an empire fills a mind with wonder, a high flying bird makes someone feel liberated, a look on an unknown face touches a heart…the list goes on. Like many others of my age, as a child growing up during 1990s – the still camera fitted with a photographic reel was a fascination for me. As time passed the compact digital camera became a household name and we no longer needed to ‘develop the negatives’. Now we have the DSLRs. Technologies have moved ahead simplifying the device – but photographs continue to be special moments preserved in the flow of time with interesting tales behind those shots. And this platform is an endeavor to share the photographs I capture, their stories and my experiences. As I attempt to explore the world through the lens, please join me in this journey and do share your views/comments.

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