To be a perfect gentleman

With a perfect gentleman

“I want to be a perfect gentleman”. Our English Teacher who was also my father’s teacher, looked through the top of his reading-glass and asked me in his typical British accent, “is it your wish or your father’s?”. The question was unnerving but I preferred to speak the truth. “My father’s” – I answered with my chin down.
“Hmm…” comes a deep breath, Jaidev Babu said after a pause, “it is a difficult wish. Your father achieved it. Not many people have made it”.

The pursuit of the gentleman-ness

The previous night I was a bit agitated at my father. I was in the sixth grade and asked my father to help me write an essay on “my aim in life”. Knowing that each one of my classmates would be trying to become a doctor or an engineer, I was expecting something similar to write. But I was terribly upset when my father asked me to aim to become a perfect gentleman. “This will not get me good marks – Baba” – I told him. But with his signature smile, my father calmly said, “it will fetch a lot of marks in your lifetime”.

He explained to me the essence of being nice to others and do things right. He kept talking about integrity and honesty half of which were impossible for me to realize at that tender age. Not sure whether I still fathomed them well but I am sincerely trying. The struggle to be and to remain a gentleman is becoming extremely difficult.

The ongoing struggle

My father passed away when I was 19. And it took me another 19 years if not more to understand how difficult his wishes were to achieve. It is probably the most difficult thing a father could ask from his son. And with every passing year, I am realizing how badly I fail to become what he wished for.

Happy Teacher’s Day

The pursuit to become a gentleman

A good teacher is not who solves the math. A good teacher empowers you to solve the math. Looking back, I remember days when I wished my father should have taught me the way to become a perfect gentleman. I wished if he would have given a few checkboxes to tick and assess my ‘gentleman-ness’. But I realized, the yardstick perhaps was the man himself. The learning was there in the way he dealt with different issues. The way he spoke to others, he spoke to me. The method he applied to solve all the worldly problems and made them look extremely simple. The way he touched people and their heart.

Today after 25 years after he passed away, I realize what a great teacher he was. He gave me a puzzle and it would take my lifetime to solve. If at all, I could solve it finally.


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