The Maths teacher

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Teacher’s Pet.”

Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?

I have almost never been a teacher’s pet. There was R who was the Music teacher’s pet because she could dance( call it reverse logic or what you will). There was A who was the physics teacher’s pet for no other reason I could see than that he was a boy. Then there were some who were the physical education teacher’s pet because they were members of the volleyball team. I had refused to be part of the volley ball team because I might have had to stay back after school for extra practice and so lost out to becoming my P. E teacher’s pet.

So I began my 9th grade with no hope of becoming any teacher’s pet; with a 13 year old mind, I had concluded that I was not intelligent enough or good looking enough or talented enough to be any teacher’s pet.

Enter Mr. R, a new Maths teacher. He had retired from the Army and his dressing and style were like a military person’s. Dressed to the T, with neatly pressed shirts, and trousers, he was the epitome of discipline. Strictness and he were close companions. His pet topics were the theorems of geometry, starting with the Pythagorus theorem – going on to tangential theories of circles and their corollaries, theories of algebra, of congruence and similarity and much more.

We had to learn not just the theorems but their proofs and if the theorems defied logic and could not be proved, we used reverse psychology or something similar to start with the end result of the theorem and going backwards from there. Suppose xxxxx were false, this and this would happen and we would go on to disprove ” this and this”, thus proving by reverse logic that our initial assumption was wrong, thus proving our theorem was right. Talk of mathematical confusion and we had it right there in our 9th grade.

Mr. R came to know that I had been a student at the school he came from previous to his appointment to this school and so he started noticing me. In addition, I was infamous for knowing my stuff but never scoring a perfect 10 in my Maths tests. So gradually his interest in me turned to a kind consideration and concern of why trying to prove I was a mathematical genius who had constantly been misunderstood, thus explaining my low scores in the subject.

Gradually I started understanding the concepts of Maths and learning how to tackle problems with ease and confidence. My scores naturally went up and so did my teacher’s pride in me. He had never shown any thing which would make me think that I was his pet but my classmates certainly thought so.

Later on, when I went on to complete my degree in Medicine, I was in correspondence with him through letters. And he called me on the night before my wedding to wish me good luck and his wishes are certainly with my marriage, as I like to believe.

He was transferred from my school a couple of years later and retuned to his home town to a life of retirement and tutoring students who needed a little fillip with mathematics.

Today Mr. R is no more. Our school facebook page mentioned that my Mathematics teacher has passed beyond that elusive curtain and never will he teach mathematics to students again.

But his legacy lives on as I teach my daughters their tables and their theorems, I am constantly reminded of how well the principles of mathematics were taught with precision and discipline to a 13 year old girl. At 45, most of what I learnt at that age, remains with me. Thank you Mr. R and hope to see you again, sometime, someplace.

New books and temptations

I was travelling over the last week and on the way back home, found a couple of good bookshops in the airport. I live in a country where books are very costly so when I saw books that were relatively easy on my pocket, I decided to indulge. This is in spite of having been warned and having had to return some books on my previous splurge from the WH Smith bookshop in the Dubai airport. The fact is I go mad when I see so many books together. I am possessed by a rare spirit which tells me to buy all the books I can with gay abandon. I pay for them using my debit card, being a very diligent person and not having a credit card of my own, I am almost never in debt except for hovering around the nil credit level. Anyway for the entire time of my holiday, I had not bought any books though I was sorely tempted.

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Finally I just had to give in to my addiction and bought 8 books including one cooking book. They cost me little compared to what I would have paid here at home. I sat on the airport chairs and rummaged through my newly bought books, trying to decide which one to read. I wanted to keep them all for later, savoring them like a delicacy. But, of course, I could not contain myself.

Soon  I had selected one of them, the one that seemed most interesting to read at that time, though it might give me a headache on the flight. So it was ” Inferno” by Dan Brown, that won the day. It is a book which mostly refers to Dante and his works, as I understand from what I have read so far. As is usual with Dan Brown’s books, there is ” constant running”- either from the authorities or from killers or from their own selves; anyway there is a lot of running and it is about that now-famous character ” Robert Langdon” , the famous fictional art teacher from Harvard. I wonder how one person can know so much. I have been trying for 45 years to know something but each day I am reminded about how little I know. But Robert Langon is a character, perhaps by virtue of his being a figment of Dan Brown’s imagination, knows almost everything about art – modern, medieval or ancient. He knows all the codes, all the history, all the myths, lots of Latin and much about codes. Codes are a central theme of Dan Brown’s books. Here in the ” Inferno” , Langdon is accompanied by a young doctor, who poses as his sister on many occasions( in as much of the book as I have read) and who is has been an infant prodigy.

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So here I was, waiting for my flight and reading the ” Inferno”. When the boarding call came, I had completed about a 100 pages of the book. So far so good ! While in the plane, belted and buckled, I took up my book to continue with my reading but found my eyes closing off. So I found out that I could fall asleep in the middle of an exciting chase and run. I found out something new about myself. I am still reading. I am now typing and reading this book even while working.

Books are my personal beeswax as Junie B. Jones would tell you. I love books and love buying them. I can read anything but my wallet is not big enough to house my bookish temptations.

So I am now reduced to buying books on those rare occasions when I travel or when I am alone because unfortunately my better half does not like my indulgences. Sigh!!

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I wish I could have all the money in  the world, so I could buy all the books I wanted and even donate all the books I didn’t want to keep to those who wanted them. This is for my bucket- list.