The teacher looking at the ceiling fan at the corona treatment facility run by the state government was about to pick up a book to read , then the phone rang. It was an unregistered number , usually she avoids such calls. However ; alone at the hospital with nothing else to do , she decided to pick it up.

The firm male voice introduced himself , Good day Madam I am Souji Gopal Krishna calling from Dubai. Am I speaking to Ms Seema Kanakambaran?

The teacher was curious about who would that be. She said , Yes you are talking to Seema.

After a pause , he continued – Madam few years ago , You were my class teacher when I was in class 10 !

The teacher couldn’t place him. She said I am admitted at the hospital with Covid 19. Is it any thing important or can you call me later?.

Souji said , Madam I came to know about your illness from Subbu , the class topper of batch 1995.

The teacher said , well I know subbu quite well , but I am unable to place you.

Madam, Souji interrupted; hope you would recollect the tall dark boy who was your biggest headache. I was at the back bench!. The teacher thought; the back benchers !

Back Benchers
The Back benchers (Representative Image)

The conversation was getting interesting and she kept the book down on to the side table and pulled up the pillow against the head board and made herself comfortable and asked , how come you remember me now , all of a sudden ?

Madam, Souji said, when I came to know that you are hospitalised , I thought of organising a conference call with all the available friends of the class of 1995. He continued , I managed to get 7 of us on line. They are listening to our conversation madam. We just called to wish you a speedy recovery.

The teacher was suddenly fumbling for words , after a long pause she asked , now tell me a bout you. Where are you ? Souji continued.

Madam , I am at Dubai , I run my own business of logistics. I came here in search of a job and finally ended up as a successful entrepreneur. There are about 2000 people at my establishment.
when we were in class 10 , you were a terror when it came to discipline. But at the same time you generously extended support and instilled confidence to the most noisy and unruly fellows at the back bench. I was their leader at the back bench.

Madam, I got the maximum amount of impositions from you , quite often you made me stand outside the class and sometimes inside the class , up on the bench. All those experiences standing outside the class and sometimes towering over every one in the class , standing on the bench etc , helped me later in life.

The standup exercise up on the bench has actually helped me to get a bird’s eye view over the entire class. I am applying those lessons in my life and business. Madam , Whatever I am today I owe it to you.

The teacher was finding it difficult to speak. As Souji went on with his story, the teacher went back few decades to the class of 1995.

The class of 1995. Yes the tall dark fellow, one of the back benchers in the class, he was the leader of nuisance! Always late in class. The guy who used to bunk classes and go for m movies!. The one who Never used to do home work. The guy who repeatedly came to the teachers room to negotiate on the impositions. The nightmare of teachers and the darling of the class! Yes he was well accepted by his friends. Oh How come? Her thought were interrupted by…

HELLO TEACHER from the other end. Teacher are you there? She said; Yes I am.

She continued, Souji, I never heard of you after school. I am so surprised and happy that you called , that too on a conference call with your friends !. Tell me about each of you.
Of the other six in the group call, there were three engineers from three continents. One doctor from Delhi , A priest who is at Shillong and finally Subbu the class topper.

Subbu said , Madam I am a chartered accountant. I am the CFO of Souji ! Teacher couldn’t believe , she asked you are? He said, yes madam, before joining with Souji I was with KPMG. But, Working with Souji, I am a satisfied professional and a happy family man.

By the time each of them had narrated their stories, it was almost 40 minutes , Souji apologised for the long call and wished his beloved teacher a speedy recovery and a promise to meet her during his next trip to Kerala.

Alone at the Covid 19 isolation ward , the teacher was in tears. Happiness swelled her heart and tears were streaming down her cheeks. She thought , here is a boy who applied all his out of syllabus and out of class lessons in real life!

By standing on the last bench , he developed a birds eye view.

By standing outside the class , he had a larger vision than all the others who were limited within the 4 walls.

By getting caught for bunking class , at a very young age he learned to mitigate and overcome risks.

He acquired the art of negotiation coming to the teachers room during lunch hours to reduce the number of impositions.

The marks I thought he had lost for Maths was actually saved by him for real life application & subbu who got 100 % for maths seems to be working with the numbers saved by Souji. Amazing!

She thought , two years of pandemic induced closure is taking a heavy toll on the character moulding of children. Sitting at home & learning digitally they may score marks. What about life application? You need Souji’s and Subbu’s. Only then the society would evolve.

This story is inspired by a real life episode of a high school Principal. I dedicate this fable to the innumerable entrepreneurs out there who believe that:

  • 10 % learning is from school.
  • 20 % from peers and 70 % on the road.

If you too happen to be in the same category of back benchers, please leave your story in comments below for the benefit of others like you.

Author: Jeevan Sudhakaran

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