My Dreaded English Teacher
A slender middle aged brown skin man with a ridiculous mustache squeezed in a very narrow space taught English at a college that trained students in agricultural sciences. Mr. Purshotham, the English teacher wore either a light Green or Beige trouser alternatively week long and never wore a short-sleeve shirt. The 50- year college surrounded by paddy fields located in a rural area was known for high quality education in farming techniques. Nine semester hours of English was a requirement to graduate from the college. That’s lot of hours in English for a degree in farming
Mr. Purshotham knew exactly how a particular vowel or consonant shall sound in a word, in the process his jaw bones rotated in many directions like a well oiled machine. His eyes showed an expression demanding recognition from the students how good he was in pronouncing words as part of good English. Students, mostly from farming community didn’t give a damn about his accent; they just want a good grade in English that doesn’t mess up their overall GPA. But Mr. Purshotham was unwilling to give a good grade; he gave ‘A’ to handful of students, ‘B’ to some in a class of over 180, most ended up either with ‘C’ or worse ‘F’. That messed up GPA in the very first year of a long 4-year program. This didn’t bother Mr. Purshotham as he walked on the campus with a flare of self confidence as the only person on the campus that spoke Queens English. Teachers in other fields of specialty improvised by whatever means to compensate their short comings in English. For example, the Biochemistry teacher just read from his notes in the classroom not making any eye contact with the students at all, students in Animal Science class paid more attention to the fancy foot work of the teacher while he delivered the lectures, they named him appropriately ‘Foot and Mouth,’; while lecturing, the Botany teacher used palm of his both hands as if he was protecting himself from a Dodgeball; the Civil Engineering teacher marched around with his long thin limbs as if he was in a marching band just to explain the difference between King-Post and Queen-Post Truss. Not Mr. Purshotham, he has a vast vocabulary in his English repository; leaning on the black board with his hands folded in front in a relaxing mode, the words flowed from his mouth like water from a fully opened faucet and articulated so well as if he was singing. He took a month to complete Nicholas Nickleby; he made impressions changing accent accordingly to suit each character, the students heard more about Charles Dickens, the author of Nicholas Nickleby than the characters in the novel. “Perhaps Dickens had this in mind when he wrote this line,” he would say when Purshotham finish reading a paragraph. Mr. Purshotham discussed Thomas Hardy’s “The Mayor of Casterbridge,” with so much passion some students really fell ill. When it came to works of Somerset Maugham, the students had enough from Mr. Purshotham. “For crying out loud we came here to get training in farming practices not majoring in English,” thought Juggernaut sitting in the last row.
After getting C twice, Juggernaut had enough from Mr. Purshotham, he thought Purshotham was going too far with his tough grading and decided to ambush him in his own game. Juggernaut got lucky and found few glaring grammatical mistakes in a handout Purshotham gave to the students, when Juggernaut pointed out, he was embarrassed and asked “what grade you got in previous semesters?” “Sir, because of your kindness, I got two Cs that screwed up my GPA so far,” replied Juggernaut. “Well, expect an improvement this semester,” said Purshotham twitching his thin mustache.
“There he was, stop him, I denounce you Purshotham for screwing up my GPA, you and your Queen’s English go to hell,” shouted Juggernaut loudly watching an old man walking in front at a distance in the daily market, he was carrying a small burlap sack of vegetables with long Snake Gourds hanging out from the mouth of the sack as if they may jump out of the bag anytime.
“Get up Juggernaut, you were day dreaming again, you had too much Turkey for lunch, slept as if somebody knocked you down,” his brother Paramesar tried to wake up Juggernaut from his afternoon nap.