It was lunch time and all the girls lined up to go into the dining hall of the hostel. A delegation of senior nuns was visiting the school. They had been closely inspecting the activities of the girls in the class rooms as well as in the dormitories. Today they were going to have lunch with the girls in the dining hall. The girls had been instructed to be at their best.
Lunch was served. They started eating after saying a joint prayer. The girls spooned the Rajma – Rice into their mouths with gusto. There was curd and potatoes too, but Rajma was a hot favourite amongst these eight year olds and they ate without distraction. Lenika reached out to the bowl of Rajma to serve herself. In her enthusiasm to pour some curry for herself, she tipped the bowl a little too much and a large quantity of Rajma spilt onto the table and onto her white skirt too. As she felt the heat of the curry on her thighs, she clenched her lips to stop herself from crying out aloud. The girls around her looked at her terrified face and knew that she was in for trouble today. The nuns at the far end of the room had not noticed yet, but they would be here in a few minutes.
They eyed the nuns advancing towards their end of the table as they carried out their inspection. Lenika looked beseechingly at her friends. But no one seemed to know what to do. A second later they saw their teacher Mrs Beni hurrying towards them with a bowl in her hand, saying, “Oh! Girls do you need some more curry? Here take this.” As she neared Lenika, she tripped and the bowl flew from her hands and landed all over the table in front of Lenika and on to her uniform like an ‘action replay’. “Oh! I’m so sorry”, gasped Mrs Beni, “Lenika, are you alright? Get up girlie; let me help you clean up. Girls could you please clean up the mess on the table…”
Mrs Beni marched Lenika away to the dormitory to help her get out of the soiled dress. All through she was heard saying, “Lenika, I’m so sorry. How could I be so clumsy? Oh Lord! What a mess you look!”
Lenika changed into a fresh set of uniform while Mrs Beni washed her skirt. The matter was hushed up in the presence of the senior nuns. Later Mrs Beni was reprimanded for her clumsy and careless behaviour by the Principal.
Eight years later when Lenika was to pass out of school, she said to Mrs Beni, “Ma’am I’ll never forget how you saved me from the wrath of the principal when I was in class III. Thank you so much. I’ll never forget you.” Mrs Beni smiled and said, “You have a great memory girlie. I didn’t think you would even remember!” “I do remember ma’am. I always wondered why the curry that I dropped on myself seemed so hot and the one you dropped on me, wasn’t hot at all.” She said matter-of-factly, “Oh! That Rajma! I poured my glass of water into it!”
That is the extent to which some teachers can go! They can go out of the way to save a student from something that happened accidently. As in this case Mrs Beni even cooled the curry instantaneously, before ‘tripping’ and dropping everything all over Lenika!
Teachers are like Demi-Gods. They can mould and plaster a child into any shape. It’s a pity that that class of teachers is not to be found easily now!