Learning is not an option. The moment you are born, you start learning – good things, bad things and everything in between. As one grows, several people influence our lives. Families have one of the most over arching influences in shaping our lives. This fact may seem less and less impactful as we move ahead in time, however, for me it has had the most profound impact.
School is another institution where you get influenced. If you are lucky you get great educators who not only teach you a subject or two but also steer you through. Not all of us are lucky to have many such teachers.
I have had good teachers all my life but i can’t really pick up a bunch of them and say that they had an impact on my life, except one. Late Professor B N Thussu. I lovingly called him Thussu uncle.
Here is a bit of a background. We are family friends. The Thussu family loved to travel and they still do. They used to come to Gulmarg and stay with us. I was too young to remember all the fun time. However, my parents always talked of the great time they all had.
A few years after we had migrated to Jammu because of militancy in the valley, we had to change house (Kashmiri Pandits at that time were kicked out year after year). We were lucky in that sense. We changed houses only once. We lived with the Aima’s initially (it was an outhouse, one room, multiple people. . . but it was a great help to my parents) and then shifted to Shastri Nagar in Jammu. Here we had a slightly bigger accommodation on the first floor. It was awesome as compared to where we were living and we were happy 🙂
All the years i spent in Shastri Nagar were full of learning. All the interactions that we would have with uncle and aunty would be beautiful moments. It’s not only what you learn in a class room that makes you wiser, it’s the other things that matter. I loved Juice, orange juice. They would make it a point that I get orange juice when ever we met. Jammu was a hell hole of heat. We did not have an AC and they would ask us to come down during the day and have a nap in their air conditioned bedroom – saying “come I will take you to Gulmarg”. I will never forget those moments of my life and they taught me a lot. In fact moments like this reinforced what my mother and father worked hard to teach me through their deeds.
And uncle did teach me as well. He taught me English. It was one of my favorite subjects and I simply loved the way he taught. He would explain the subject with such depth and intensity that one would never ever want to miss his class.
I never liked studying as such especially in the school. That desire was lost when we were forced out in 1990 and replaced by a desire to survive. However, I have been a fairly okay student all my life. I failed a paper in class 12th and that was like getting nuked. I don’t remember anyone in the family having failed. I wish it were this fashionable at that time to fail. I got one slap, probably the only one in my life from my dad.
Uncle, I am sure was upset as well, however, he looked at the bigger picture. Told me to let it all go. Got me an admission in Jammu University (MAM College), got me my choice of subjects (electronics) and made sure I never looked back.
And I never looked back again! I still did not like classroom studying. I never failed again, by luck or otherwise.
I have deep gratitude for him. I wept for the entire day when he was killed in a road accident in Kuwait and I have tears in my eyes now. I miss him dearly. We have great respect for the entire Thussu family and met them recently when they came to visit us in Delhi. It is always a pleasure.
The other people who have had great influence on me are my parents, my grandmother, my maternal grandfather some stories about my grand father (Late Shyam Lal Kaul Watt). I will leave that for another day. It will be fun writing about the Watt’s.
I also want to share a very interesting practice that I follow. Always keep your mind open, with people we like or dislike. There is not a moment in life when one does not get to learn. Take in as much as you can. Equally important is to share the learning’s. Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow. Don’t hold back any good thing you can share, any experience that will make someone wise . . .
I began by saying that one learns the moment one is born. I am ending by saying that one stops to learn only when one dies !