Our school is spread across three floors,with classes never close enough to take a gossip break with the 'teacher next door',and in spite of all the complicated and time consuming time table scheduling,the co coordinators spend numerous hours on,there are always a unlucky few who have their classes all across the three floors(it’s a great excuse I give myself whenever I skip exercise).Our staffroom on the third floor, like our students in class, is the nosiest and the most notorious of the three. We often thank our stars for being the canopy of the school, because we know that, thanks to ‘high noise levels’ ,the principal would have needed an extra pair of hands to keep the teachers in check. In happier times, last year ,we even had to shut the door of the SR most of the time, to seal the sound of guffawing and peals of laughter(in spite of the elevation). This year,however the staffroom resembles a railway station cloak room,when it should ….a waiting room. People use their desks more to park their luggage than themselves. The chairs are never occupied and lunch time has suddenly lost its flavour. Teachers come in with a huge payload of books, check a mountain pile of notebooks and go back home with yet another huger consignment.Some ….actually most of us carry a bigger and a heavier bag than our students.
The only time(these days) you hear someone speaking loudly is, when they are making an announcement. The announcements too, are never about cheerful events, like a sudden holiday or a staff picnic or ‘you can go home early today’ news(teachers are simple creatures).They are always about impending doom i.e deadlines..notebook checking deadlines,assignment deadlines,event deadlines,exam deadlines,question paper deadlines and thereafter correction deadlines. Not that these deadlines didn’t exist last year,but they were always booed,commented and cribbed about.At least they were commented on.This year its more of resignation.
( IN HAPPIER TIMES )
You know for sure that people(teachers) are awfully busy when they don’t comment on each others sarees.Comment doesn’t always mean compliment.The fact that no one in the staffroom has time to even criticize confirms the fact that women are unwell,blind,busy,stressed or (people like me)have no taste for good clothes. Even if they can’t see eye to eye,they’ll always keep an eye on who is wearing what. Right from the necklines to the mismatched petticoats. You can’t escape a teachers eye.Once a teacher always a teacher,even though theres’ a colleague on the receiving end.
And then, suddenly there was a whirlwind of enthusiasm in all three staff rooms. The energy and chatter was infectious.It’s the same kind of energy that is witnessed when either Kumble or Dravid or both of them, come visiting or to pick up their kids or for a school event(at such times there are no prizes for guessing why so many of us opt for the VIP reception duty).I remember making the mistake of mentioning, that I saw Dravid at the school reception, (standing at the staffroom door). I nearly got crushed by the stampede.Oh ,I digressed.So,suddenly,all the teachers(most of us) who leave at the stroke of three thirty,were in no hurry … they strolled and walked out .The coffee wending machine, was working overtime and became a gossip exchange server. It was time for the annual increments to be announced and we were under a strict professional oath, (that was the first line and the last line of the fine print) not to disclose any details to each other,to maintain professionalism.Easier said than done.Teachers are the worst ,when it comes to following rules. You(I) suddenly became an identity and my raise was part of that identity, which everyone was most curious about.
The raise is a boon, coz something is definitely better than nothing especially when a majority, are fighting to get their salaries into their accounts and I know, that ,the fact that our salaries were raised ,would naturally make us a subject of envy, discussion,awe in short demi gods.Had these been unrecessioned and happier times,this raise would have competed with peanuts and lost sorely to them.For as long as I can remember WE have always been content with the nobility of our professions' than with the pay packets.It has always been that ‘last things on my list ‘during interviews.The truth is that teachers need the moolah as much as any other ‘real professionals’. They love the children they teach ,but they also love to have a cup of that Jamaican Coffee at Barista.WE love our jobs but we can’t survive on love and fresh air alone. So,once in a while WE get greedy and talk money instead of morals.
So,while we bask in the warmth of this raised status, we do know and hope that it’s not long before, time, money and salaries will catch up with us.After all,WE are the ones preparing all the future economists,in our laboratories called classrooms.Till then and even after that we shall be celebrating.