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Standing under this beautiful flowering Maulsari tree, I’m transported back in time to the poet’s corner in school. Sitting on a carpet of star like fragrant Maulsari tree a fifteen year old student listening to the teacher’s deep husky voice in rapt attention… Mesmerized, I felt alive.
My heart is filled with fond memories of the poetry/drama sessions, the steamy hot chocolate that you sent for us when we burnt the midnight oil before the exams, a teenager’s first crush on a teacher who taught English literature with such passion that it made her slide under the skin of the characters.
A surreal experience…
I remember that evening in summer when sitting with my back against the tree I had begun to recite along with you quite carried away with the poem and your voice. The class stared wide-eyed as you quietly sat in the corner amused by my sudden performance.
It was only after I finished that I understood what had happened. For days the incident made me feel embarrassed and I could not look into your eyes. It changed things overnight for me and perhaps for you. Feeling responsible and guilty in some way about your sudden decision to leave the school I escaped to a secret hideout on the day of your farewell, unable to understand whether my love was for you as a man, a poetry teacher or for the language.
Now after twenty five years I can see myself with much more clarity. Yes I was in love I wouldn’t deny it. I wanted your appreciation, affection and care which were missing in my life. I could feel the unsaid warmth and knew that you understood my desire for love and peace. My gaze followed you everywhere you went and I soaked in each word you wrote or said. I was sure you knew you were being watched and that filled me with immense pleasure.
Some moments in life are such sinful delights.
Sir, you planted the seed of love for the language I was beginning to discover and showed me the different shades of love. I still have the book of verses you left on my bunk bed before leaving the school. Three words beautifully inscribed on the inner cover
I drew hearts around it and read it like the bible. This one small gesture from you opened a whole new world for me and added a new dimension to my life. You veiled your heart from me and never crossed the student teacher line. I realized that day that the bond of love that held us together was poetry. We didn’t meet that day so actually never parted but your absence created a huge void somewhere deep inside.
I would sit in the poet’s corner, eyes closed, and try to recite in slow whispers – Keats, Shelly, Byron just the way you did. The lovely cream flowers would slowly glide down with the breeze and kiss my face. Their faint fragrance still fills my senses. It was a sight that has remained etched in my memory forever.
There is nothing more intoxicating than the first love. Isn’t it?
Slowly I began to empty the spaces overflowing filled with your memories – liquid hurt stings.
Soon I left for England where I am based now but a part of me remained in those corridors filled with girly laughter and knowing glances, among the shady trees and soaring mountain peaks.
Sir, do you remember the little poems that I left on your table? I waited endlessly for your response which never came. I spent that one year under a spell, charmed by your very presence. Sometimes even small associations transform into life long love and admiration for each other. In those 365 days I evolved as a student, as a woman and as a human being.
All along my journey from a dreamy teenager to a known writer, you remained in my thoughts as an undercurrent. The phantom who haunted and inspired each word, who controlled the dancing fingers on my keyboard.
You not only gave me roots and wings to fly to seek my own horizons but also helped me emerge as a butterfly from within my dark cocoon. You helped me find my direction and become a better human being. It was your encouragement led me to weave the most beautiful yarns of life through my words.
The journey back to school was a pilgrimage. I wanted to visit the place which had laid the foundation for who I am today. Today after almost 25 long years I went through the corridors of my school, revisiting the glorious mornings and fragrant sunsets and a sudden urge to meet you rose inside me like a burning desire. Finding your address from the old watchmen was nothing short of a miracle, a wish come true. It is strange how some places draw a person back into their fold. I hadn’t expected to find you living here.
Sir, your absence from home is in a way a blessing in disguise, for I wouldn’t have been able to express myself as freely as I’m doing in my letter to you.
Love that began as a spark in a young girl slowly matured into revered adulation and respect.
I am leaving my first book of verses “Maulsari blossoms” which I have dedicated to a teacher who showed me the path and helped me find myself- YOU. I have kept inside it some dried flowers gathered during our poetry sessions. The fragrance still lingers ——
Just when I seemed about to learn!
Where is the thread now? Off again!
The old trick! Only I discern—
Infinite passion, and the pain
Of finite hearts that yearn.
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