Guruji's No More
All in all you’re just
another brick in the wall. — Pink Floyd
Years after leaving primary school, and losing faith
in God again, I heard our Guruji had died in an accident.
We never cursed him that much. We
only asked for Hindi holidays.
Someone else must have asked for his death.
Our Guruji had the biggest bike you’d ever see.
You should have heard the noise, and seen how
he revved up the engine. Each Monday and Friday,
we would gather flowers on a table, praying in unison,
hoping God would pluck his life.
We would scatter measured joy on the naked floor
whenever he was absent;
we were like sprightly antelopes.
To think that he, who called his twelve fingers
the Jyotilingas, and himself the seed of the universe,
was suddenly no more! I felt quite uneasy.
But what about the way he brought us boys buckets
full of diffidence; what about the way he brought
whippet-like pace to our tender heartbeats;
what about the way he brought terror
to rattle our fledgling bones.
At one time, there was no boy left in me.
I remember how football during
recess was never the same before his classes.
He always made us dance to his sinister tune,
and after each class with him, we were like
the carcass of an antelope killed after
a slow and savage chase.
I think the girls had only a dislocated shoelace.
All in all, his hatred taught us how to love and hug
each other. I’ll always rue how he made me unlearn
the language that my ancestors wrote, the language
I’m still trying to fall in love with – again,
with the help of my wife, the gentlest teacher ever.