Dear Teacher, inspite of the struggles COVID-19 threw your way, you are a hero!
“Is this some new fashion?” asked my wife. Any reply, even one word, would lead to either a conversation or an argument.
I had a new plan in my mind, quite different to the lesson planned the previous evening. It made me nervous, yet it would, I believed, be a lot more effective with the differently interested children of the class.
Charming her with a broad grin I snatch-grabbed all that I thought I needed for the morning online lesson and nudged the door open. Nearly loosing balance, I whirled around on the doorstep.
The net-door slammed as I left with a flip and a flop on every alternate step I took. Our pet dog got up and stretched wisely, reminding me of what I need to do and get my students to make a habit of. He wagged his tail and led the way upstairs, glad that I was not heading for the front gate.
The alarm rang with the tone of the school bell indicating that there were but ten minutes before launch. With every step of the climb my wife’s question echoed. The rubber straps and naked toes reminded me of the many times I had told the boys, “Bathroom chappals are for the bathroom and not for school.” Here I was, thankfully with all three ‘S’s over, suited but not booted. What a ridiculous sight I must be!
My wife had been gracious with her polite enquiry. The big consolation was that the Zoom camera would convey professionalism.
“You hypocrite!”, I scolded myself, as I got to the door and fished the keys out of my pocket only to find they were the wrong bunch. Will I be ready and waiting to admit my students to the meeting? I must teach punctuality by example. A strong breeze was blowing my bright tie over my shoulder. I couldn’t risk leaving my teaching aids to their fancy.
I grappled with my phone and notes and charger and wrong keys and two stout encyclopaedias. Why encyclopaedias in this day and age? Why? Because I was not born a digital child and had not, in my wildest dreams, thought that life would change so suddenly and forcefully. “Keep it together!” I told myself, as I headed back down stairs.
I’m convinced that God made women smarter, for lo and behold, before I reached the landing at the bottom of the first flight of stairs, my wife’s hand appeared round the bend with just what I was returning for. She didn’t say a word. She didn’t shake her head. She just handed them over– matter of fact! I was now convinced that God does supply all our needs!
Performing a balancing act with all that I had in my hands including two bunches of keys, I first took out my phone, turned it on and tapped on the app. The horrid circle started spinning endlessly. I unlocked the door and dropped my stuff on the table, switched on the light and fan and looked at the screen.
Enter email id or valid phone number.
I entered my yahoo email that I have been using proudly for the past 22 years.
The system does not recognise your id.
Ah! I’ll give it my new gmail account.
Enter your password.
Oh no! Why did I change it from the simple asdf1234???? to something else? I should not have listened to that computer mechanic!
Nevertheless, I gave it a try. My memory had worked!
Enter the four digit OTP sent to your phone.
How Lord? How am I to find the OTP when I’m busy logging in.
A grade five child had mentioned that evening three months ago, just before the lock down, “Sir, you can do multiple things on your phone all at the same time”, and I had ridiculed him in my mind saying, “Only women can multi-task.“
I pressed the home button, went to messages, found the OTP, returned to logging in, entered it and was in!
‘Child, the father of man’, seemed to make sense.
The clock struck eight.
You have 14 members in the waiting room.
This article is a satirical take on being hurled into the internet age due to the COVID-19 lockdown in India, making do with limited teaching tools and relying on past experience and knowledge to make the virtual classroom a place that students can still learn and grow in. Every teacher in a lockdown zone has been through or is currently going through this, so hopefully you feel represented and know that you are amazing for pressing through in the face of great difficulty. Originally published here.