When I think of her, visions of this strict looking person comes to my mind. But she's no dragon lady - or maybe she is to some. But I'll always remember her kindness, her humour and her caring for she was a very caring person and loving too though she tries to hide this behind a strict demeanor. She taught us English Literature and no better teacher can be found, or maybe if there are I've not had the pleasure of knowing them. Because of her I have a deep and lasting love of English and of reading. She taught us that reading is not just for exams but it can give us companionship and knowledge. When I was in Form 5 and about to leave HIgh School I asked her to write something in my autograph book. What she wrote has carried me through my Pre University days and right through life itself. She said- "Carry on reading Kathija... the pleasure is not in the destination but in the journey itself... and when you have 'arrived'... look further."
At the age of 17 I did not really understand what she meant. But years hence, looking back at what she wrote I finally understood what she was trying to tell me - that reading in itself is not the destination but the knowledge and the understanding that one gains from it is what is important. So a very big thank you Mrs Rajendran, for taking notice of a shy, girl from a poor family and by giving her the confidence to fly gave her the world.
Of course there are other teachers who have taught me many things - there was Mrs Nair , our Science teacher who despaired of me because every time she gave us a test, what would I be doing? Writing poetry on my test papers! Once she was so fed up she sent me to the principal - Mrs Rajendren. Mrs Rajendran looked so serious I actually quaked in my shoes. But finally she just looked at me, gave me that sweet smile that is so typical of her and told me to pay attention in class and not to write poems!
I wish I could meet all my teachers and give them a very big thank you. I have been a very lucky person, I know. I have hardly had a really bad teacher. Nearly all my teachers were good. There was one teacher though who I found to be rather biased against me and never had a good word. She was our Maths teacher in primary school. Once a friend copied my homework and she noticed that our answers were very similar. She called us and then without finding out who had copied whom, she punished me. I tried to tell her that it wasn't me who copied - that it was the other girl, but of course she wouldn't listen. The other girl's father was also a teacher and she was always so smartly dressed. I, on the other hand was from a poor family and sometimes quite scruffy looking! So to this teacher, of course I had copied the other girl. Maybe because of this, I became timid and quiet, always staying out of the teachers' way because of this particular teacher. She had influenced the others against me. Of course not all the teachers were against me. Mrs Chong my class teacher, Miss Ratnam who taught us English and Miss Dorai liked me. But I never really enjoyed my primary school years.
IN Std 6 however, the other girl failed her elementary exams - teacher's daughter or not. She left school and entered a comprehensive girls' school where girls who were not good academically were taught skills. I on the other hand went to MGHS, not a premier school yet but at least mid ranking. And in MGHS I had teachers who actually cared. It was here that I realised that I enjoyed studying and English was my best subject. I had wonderful English teachers who always gave me praises when I did well and like any other child, I blossomed in such a conducive atmosphere. I even got prizes for English every year, beating another girl Doreen Yeow every year.
When I became a teacher I learned - not from my college textbooks , but from these teachers who had taught me. From Miss Tan who taught me English in Form 1 to Form 3, I learned that to make the learning of grammar more interesting I had to intersperse the actual grammar with games that later came to be known as Language games. This was in the early to mid 60s when the word language games had not yet been introduced into the Methodology of Teaching! But Miss Tan made it fun by bringing posters, making word scrabble from post cards and so on. English was never dull in her class and when in Form 4 we were told we'd get a British volunteer for our English lessons we all groaned. But Miss Hobbs was just as fun, just as interesting. She reinforced what Miss Tan had given us in our earlier years. And like Mrs Rajendran she introduced me to the classics, literally, by lending me books to read. I always think that I am where I am today because of these teachers - who taught me above all else, to appreciate my self and to always learn.
So to all these teachers - wherever they are, I'd like to wish them a Happy Teachers' Day and a Happy Mother's Day too and a very big thank you for your love and your guidance.