(This happened in Mumbai, India, three years or so back. I submitted it to the NAHopeless section but it didn’t get published. So, here it is.)
My grandmother retired as a kindergarten teacher back in the early 1980s – just before I was born. Now 94, I was accompanying her to the neighbourhood GP doctor for a general check-up/visit. The doctor is also a family friend, thus the visit is more ‘friendly’ than ‘medical’ and without an appointment, hence he typically lets her sit in the waiting room until he’s free enough to have a long chat with her, while also checking her medical issues out.
This time around, there were quite a few people in the waiting room, so Grandma was just chilling, reading a magazine she’d brought along. A gentleman, probably in his mid-50s, kept staring at her. He finally mustered the courage to ask her if she was [Grandma’s Name]. He was quite happy when she concurred – she’d been his schoolteacher, he told his wife sitting next to him. Grandma explained that she would have taught him in kindergarten – so everyone is pretty surprised at the recollection – it would have been nearly 45 years, if not more, for the gent to have been in her class. Upon hearing his name, Grandma shocks everyone by recollecting his childhood nickname, one that he himself had forgotten!
A second gentleman walks into the clinic, and the first immediately points Grandma out to him – they were classmates so he too would have been in her class. He’s leaving the doctor’s cabin as Grandma is called in, so he happily points out to the doctor that she was his teacher. Even the doctor is surprised at the happy reunions.
Later, when we leave, a third gentleman, younger than the previous two, enters the clinic. He sees Grandma and immediately bends down to touch her feet. (Touching an elder’s feet is considered a mark of respect in Indian culture, a method of asking for and receiving their blessings.) On enquiry, he reveals that he was her student in the early 1980’s – probably from the last batch she taught before retiring.
The school where Grandma taught, our old neighbourhood, and the doctor’s clinic are all in the same block, so whenever she’s visiting the doctor or any of our old friends and neighbours, we usually bump into a few of her kindergarten students on the road. All of them – many of them now grandparents themselves – walk up to her and spend a few minutes chatting with her.
I always marvel at such student-teacher relationships. Relationships that began at the beginning of the students’ childhood, still as impactful decades later. Relationships that transcend generations. Relationships that are still in force even after your kids have grown up, and their kids are in the same classroom where you were once. It’s heartening, giving me hope for the future.