Half an Hour of Education

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.  ~ Albert Einstein

Einstein was right here as well. Education is not just what we get from the school; it is a lot beyond the concept of coerced discipline and morals inculcated within the students.
 Somebody’s said “Education is not just preparing for the life; it is life itself.” An entire lifetime is short enough for a person to get educated to the fullest. So, why the caption ‘Half an Hour of Education?’  

I do agree that most of the values I have in myself are due to the proper schooling I got up to tenth standard at St. Joseph’s. I owe a lot to that school and of course, my parents. Being at Mallinson, I’d on no account ever in my life like being called a Mallinsonite. I would always identify myself a Josephite and I am proud to be one. I’m swollen with pride while saying that I have never let down the motto I lived for twelve years “Manners Maketh Man”.

But has my current school given me anything to hold on to all my life? Has it taught me something about life that I can boast about tomorrow? Has it had even an ounce of credit on me being educated or moulding my character as a person?  I am afraid to say, no. It hasn't. So, does that mean I’ve ceased to progress as a human? That I am not being molded anymore? That my education has come to a halt for the past two years? I am lucky and proud to say, no. It doesn’t.

There’s been this wonderfully wonderful man, who has taught me the greatest values of life over this one and a half year. There’s been this brilliant man, about whom I would have thought a bazillion times “I have never seen a person like him before”. There’s been this great man, looking at him squint and blink his eyes I’d feel “How unlucky my friends at St. Joseph’s are who’d never see him”. There’s been this amazing man, seeing whose face would make my day. There’s been this marvelous man, the look in whose eyes behind those glasses would make me nervous. There’s been this gifted man, who’s been like a hundred schools to me when I’ve listened to his voice for half an hour every day. There’s this man for whom my heart is loaded with respect. There’s this man whom we call Nasir Sir.

Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one, I’d read somewhere. This is exactly what Nasir Sir is doing. It is not just Mathematics; he gives not just me, but all his pupils, the lessons for life. Within his humor, his laughter, his quick witted sentences you get to catch something very special that you’d hardly find anywhere else.

I’m not saying that he preaches great philosophy to his students, no, he doesn’t. He just tells us what someone else dares not speak out. He’s got that honesty and that courage to get us acquainted to the apparently small but very big things in reality that exist in the world around us.

Over this year and a half, hardly has there been a day when I would have come out of his class without a new topic in my head to ponder upon. When I leave his class almost every day, I have the same feeling as I get after reading a book by Paulo Coelho. If it is one book a day, how many Paulo Coelho’s unwritten books would be in my head by the end of this year counting since December 2010?

But I wonder if it is just me who finds the wisdom of an entire book in Nasir Sir’s one sentence or  all of the students who ever went to him? I hate it when some of them talk while he teaches. I wanted to punch their faces when they laughed while he said that the equation of ellipse is divine and justified that; or when they said it is the sign of the end of the world while he said the woman is so powerful that she is even the president of India today; or when they said ‘Did you mug up Math?’ while Nasir Sir said he’d done fifty something theorems in one hour with a lot of practice as a tenth grader. There are a million examples like these. I wish they took it all seriously. They don’t know what they’re losing.

It is not just his words but his entire personality that reflects how a wonderful person lives. Just by casting a glance at him, you’d figure out his simplicity, soberness, selflessness, hard work, intellect, understanding, patience and what not. He’s the real person one should actually look up to.

He has inspired me ever since. I remember grinning at him sheepishly whenever he beautifully solved the questions last year. He has that beauty even now but I’ve stopped grinning. I know it was stupid. Still, at times, I cannot help smiling at him.

Lastly, I’d quote what Nasir Sir said today talking about the Freedom that the people of Kashmir keep on demanding every other day. “…What’d freedom give them if they’ve lost their culture already...” and the best one “…when our lips have the same thing on them as that in our hearts, that day we’d be free…” Beautiful! It reminded me of Coelho’s opening line for The Zahir “I am a free man now…but what makes me free?”
And very importantly, I’d thank Khaloojan, for he gave me an inspiration and a direction to my life when he sent me to study at Nasir Sir’s. Thank you!

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Murderous Winds

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.  ~ Kahlil Gibran

Well, I agree that I absolutely love Kahlil Gibran and adore every word that he’s said but I’d ask him, if he was sure this statement could be made every time. Certainly not! Especially after the days like yesterday and the day before yesterday, I’ve learnt that God does have His own ways of showing the wrath He can send upon His people.
In today’s world, we really have forgotten God but Allah has not forgotten us. He’s not forgotten our goods and evils. I know I am no great scholar of Islam or Theology that I’d begin preaching here. What I’m doing is just the expression of what I have learnt over the years.

I remember being at school one day and Reverend Father Sebastian said in the morning assembly “How many of you count the blessings of your Lord? Or how many do thank Him for that? Taking a simple example, how many of you, since you woke up in the morning, thought that ‘I am breathing.’ Isn’t the biggest blessing for you today that you woke up alive, breathing? How many of you thanked God for you’re breathing?” He asked if there was anyone who had realized this and thanked God for being alive that morning should raise his hand. Among a lot of four thousand odd students, there was none who could raise his hand.
Kashmir was yesterday and day before yesterday being destructed by the murderous winds that blew. The Meteorological Department said that the cause of wind storms in Kashmir from Monday evening were the western disturbances combined with low atmospheric pressure. Saudi Arabia, Gulf, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan are also badly hit by the current windstorm causing disruption of normal activities in the entire region.

Restless Dal Lake: Boatmen try to move towards the bank of the Dal Lake amidst windstorm in Srinagar on Tuesday. 

Courtesy: Mubashir Kahan/Greater Kashmir.

In Kashmir, one person got killed after being hit by a falling rooftop, ninety something people got injured and 9000 structures including 6670 residential houses were damaged in the wind storm. It was the time of absolute mayhem in Kashmir. The electric supply was cut off from the entire valley. Al you could see were uprooted trees, damaged rooftops and collapsed power lines and electric poles. The Dal Lake looked like a sea with huge waves.
Five majestic Chinar, some believed to be as old as 400-years, at Nishat Garden here were uprooted by strong winds that swept across Kashmir, said a leading daily newspaper.
Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon his soul, had said that “If you see anything like an eclipse, an earthquake, the storms or any other natural calamity, hasten to remember Allah and worship Him. Hasten to ask for His forgiveness for He is oft forgiving and the most merciful.”

Windstorm hits Valley: High velocity winds blowing across the Valley since Monday afternoon damaged many structures in Srinagar and other areas. 

Courtesy: Aman Farooq/Greater Kashmir

While going to Nasir Sir’s class yesterday, as I walked down the street my bag fell off from my shoulder four times due to the wind. That’s nothing, what was even hard was that when I tried to walk against the wind, it pushed me back. I was wondering how desperate people are to earn the bread for their family when I thought of the masons who worked throughout the day, in the wind and cold, at my home. I felt ashamed of myself thinking, everyone’s doing their jobs, what am I doing? L But that is a different subject about which we’d talk some other time.

Coming back to the street, while I was trying to take a few steps, the dust, sand, and the small stones hit my face!

And what’s funny? When I boarded the bus, after the rigorous exercise f walking against the wind and feeling thirsty, I licked my lips. I could feel something go in my mouth. You know what? It was a part of that dust and sand and whatever that was stuck to the Vaseline on my lips. :P 

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