The sepia-tinted image of me touching his divine feet, seeking his benediction, is still engraved in the altar of my heart where my prayers devote themselves in silent worship. The noise of daily trivia has receded there in shame and apprehension, only the cooing birds and flowers strewn all over in hearty dedication remain.

Still now, the memory of how Sir looked like has faded into oblivion as the years have rolled by but what has remained behind is the essence of a wider vision, a dream bright as a star and an ideal to die for.

To me, Sir was not only a teacher, a human being in himself but a symbol of a vast world, a dauntless challenge, a life that lives in the dream of devoting itself for the sake of life.

He was a source of endless inspiration, of godly radiance, of stars of words guiding us to the ends of the world to conquer realities with our efforts.

In the days when we lost the faith in abilities, on the face of dire circumstances – crashing expectations and threats looming before us all around, he believed in us. To him, even the dimmest of the dim students was special, with hidden talents waiting to be exposed.

On one hand, he painted grim realities before us while on the other hand, he taught us to dream beyond the horizon. His ideal soared above all the petty boundaries that limit our vision.

Very often he used to say in his usual sombre voice, “Fie on you, who think of only becoming a doctor, opening a chamber and being a millionaire! Better do something to glorify your country, do something for the welfare of millions of your countrymen!” Then he would go on and tell us stories of his brilliant students and their marvellous achievements.

He would end off in an ecstatic, hopeful tone, “They have rewarded me. I am waiting for the day when you too will offer me the reward I deserve.”

To me he was not only a mentor, but an inexpressible, intangible longing to achieve, a hope immortal and forbearing. His lessons, his words were gospels.

The truth of his aspirations today circumscribes us as a halo of goodwill, glowing in divine radiance. He taught us to study not for the sake of money, status, fame or recognition but simply for love of the subject. He knew only heartrending love and devotion can demand one’s all in pursuit of excellence.

To me, he was the epitome of fatherly affection, transcending above all failures that define this era, rising in the endeavours of building a beautiful dream of a new age; to me he was the sage, immersed in deep meditation, from centuries, illumined by the light of rejuvenation, resurrecting the new from the remnants of the old!

“Sir, I bow in wordless gratitude before thee. Words are too incoherent, too impecunious to express the deepest regards that heart offers in earnest gestures. For once, I seek thy benediction, that however overcast the sky may be, I may find the courage within my own self, to stand up and walk ahead, rising above all hopelessness, grief and despair. Sir, bless me so that I can be of pride and glory to my country and to you above all. Today, I kneel down before you and this is all that I can beseech with my head lowered in deepest reverence. Amen.”

(Coordinator, Ex-Gokhale Memorial Girls School)