When I was studying medicine in Madras, India, I was President of the Medical Students’ Hostel. A series of thefts of money from students’ rooms broke out. We were sure that the thief must be a resident of the hostel. Suspicion soon focused on a student whom I shall call R who frequently cut classes to remain in the hostel. One day, he was caught in the act and immediately surrounded by a ring of furious classmates.
I counselled patience and telephoned our beloved Professor of Anatomy, Dr. N. When he arrived, R was standing in a corner, humiliated and terrified. We told the Professor we wished to call the police.
“How much money have you all lost?” Dr. N asked. The total was Rs.10,000/-. “I will pay it,” he said. “The matter is now closed”. He left the room without even casting a glance at the wretched R.
In the course of time, we all graduated and went our ways, and the incident was forgotten. Some years later I became a Member of the faculty of anatomy. One day Dr. N walked into my room beaming. “I knew he would do it!” he said, handing me a letter. It was from R.
“I am still a man,” the letter read, “because of you, Dr. N. You have made a difference in my life. This is my first month’s pay”. Attached to the letter was a cheque for Rs.10,000/-.
The Professor’s keenest happiness had always come from the success of his students. For him there could be no richer reward than the knowledge that R had not wasted the chance to redeem himself. Yes, dear teachers, the true test of teaching is not merely teaching academics but to attend to the needs of the children, some children may come to us with extra-ordinary needs that we may have to fulfill.