Isn't it needless to speak of the influence of a good teacher in the life of a student? I am no different! In December, 2020, when the sun of our pre-pandemic world titled briefly to the horizon, one morning I woke up and began to jolt down an incessant downpour of words that pervaded my sleep. Which turned out to be a letter to my mentor, the man taught to me physics, and things beyond physics during pandemic. Little did I know then that the dints of my lockdown life would blotted by this most fantastic human being who took me to an adventure in Physics-land. I presented my tutor this letter as a new year present of 2021.
Please note that I was a terrible writer back then. Yet It should be one of my most personal favourite piece of writing.
31st December 2019
Dear K Sir,
Do you know how many times girls from our college called you a freak and I defended you? I didn’t do just because I've been branded as the same but because we choose to judge people by what we see them doing, instead of acknowledging the reason behind their actions. And my defence was always the same - 'Come on. What’s wrong with him? It suits him and he does it for reason. He's just obsessed with physics. Let him be!’ It is funny how I repeated this every day for solid three months but you had no clue. But I know, you are sane and those who call you madman are out of their mind. You know, the fact is I always enjoyed your unorthodox attitude and the way you taught us physics. I loved your eternal “chiruni obhijaan” and how you used to jump around the class and catch kids doing things apart from physics (you caught me twice. Sorry). Alas! I do miss you and your classes a lot.
It is interesting how I have been looking for a teacher just like you (a physicist) for the last five years so that I could share my wishes, my dreams and he would understand and guide me. Then you came out of nowhere in our class as a replacement of Y Sir on the second Thursday of September. But it is extremely sad how we crossed roads only a month before I was leaving the college. I wish I found you at the beginning of year. It is a great regret of mine and even thinking about it makes me utterly sad. It is true finding a man of your kind was quite abrupt because I believed DCC isn't the most auspicious place where a student can find a teacher like you. Then again you came to DCC for just three months. I was looking for you forever. Can I call it a miracle?
Soon after my first class with you, the corridor leading to our No. 224 became the best place to solve physics problems in the college (I never went to department because I was always afraid of Hakim Sir and his cold criticisms). How many times did I accost you in the corridor with problems after your class? Every week! It was kind of fun, though how I always kept wishing we met earlier so that you could answer my questions. I have plenty of questions unasked and I don’t know when I will get the answers. I hope to get the chance to ask sometimes in future.
You were the most influential teacher of my college days. I must admit how you are dedicated to your students and encourage them to learn physics. You have always inspired us not to do stupid calculations but to learn something. The best thing about you is how you understand the psychological aspects and needs of the students. It is probably because you faced the same trouble when you were a student. You always tried to inspire us to do what we love. You never scolded a single soul, even though we disturbed you like imbeciles and didn't let you deliver lecture properly for a single day. But you never pressured us to do any classwork or homework. I am utterly fond of your way of teaching.
I remember the day you shared your admission session story in our class. When I got to learn you gave up medical college and SUST for the sake of physics, my respect for you increased exponentially because a man who can give up ever for his passion for physics must be one of the most dedicated student of physics and truly loves it. Your stories always illustrate how assiduous you were as a student and I learnt a lot from you. One day you asked me in the class what motivated me to learn physics. I answered you a week later because I didn’t want anyone to know the answer. It is secret that I could only tell you. Because you seemed to be the only person who would understand it. I knew that from the very first day of your class. You always seemed to be a human being like me.
It was my one great privilege you to share (probably) the same passion for physics with you. On my last day in college, I went to the physics department to collect your regrets on my diary (it is a keepsake. When I grow old, I will show that and tell my grandchildren I had this physics teacher who taught me for one month and inspired me more than anyone to study physics). You wrote just a single word and it was “Obdurate”. I was utterly stupefied and flattered. As it actually depicts the person that I am. But I had no clue how a man could discern this within just few weeks. Undoubtedly, that is the best compliment I have ever received from anyone! But my most favourite quote of yours is rather a different one.
There is no stupid questions. But remember, there is always the most stupid answers
You are the only physics teacher who truly developed some feeling for physics in me. All my life, I was rather self-motivated and my father does get some credit to that. You always made us believe in brain storming and creating new ideas. Your random study tips were always effective. And I will always remember and try to reflect your advices in my life. I will always be grateful to you for your motivations inside and outside the classroom. I disturbed you like an absolute creep over and over again. But you never turned me down instead you tolerated my utter madness and frustrating gossips. I have never bothered any of my teachers from school or college as much as you. Undoubtedly, your tolerance is one of the impeccable things in our town.
I do not only like you as a teacher but also a human being. You are the most amiable human being of my acquaintance! You are a perfectionist, honest, agreeable, awesome, amiable, friendly, helpful, supportive and (insert some really good qualities on behalf of me. I wonder how fortunate your friends and juniors are to have someone like you!). You always call a spade a spade and immensely out-spoken. You didn’t only teach me physics but have also given many important life lessons. You taught me how we should be treating each other, how should be loving and caring to each other, how should be helping each other, irrespective of age, class and merit. Indeed you are one of the very few “good people” I have come across! I wish the world were full of people like you. But the best thing about your personality is your influence on people, especially me. Our lives are too short and not everybody has the capability to influence others and make a difference. If I ever become a teacher, I want to be as influential as you are, you was, and you always will be.
After everything you have done for us, especially for me, no word is enough to explain how much I owe you. Within much very short time you have made a great difference. You have been not only an amazing mentor but also an inspiration. I have already thanked you a thousands of times and I still feel it isn’t enough. It is because you introduced the true beauty of physics, something nobody has ever done before. You inspire me, is the best thing can anyone does! You didn’t even scold me when I nearly bombed physics (I expected you to castigate me after what I’ve done). Oh, I forgot to thank you for solving my problems even after I said, “I am not worthy, Sir. Amar picche effort diye labh nai.” (I thought of translating that sentence to English. But sadly enough, it doesn’t sound that depressing in English. Blehah) But you know, I have never treated you as a teacher who taught me physics in college but always as an ultimate mentor and a physicist (remember I called you my ‘Guru’? I do mean it!). You were never like any other stereotypical teacher. You were different and that is why I always liked you more than anyone. It is a shame how the authority didn't understand the necessity of teacher like you for the college. To be honest, we always felt you never fitted in here. You truly deserve better students than us. We are very much obnoxious; we never wanted to learn physics. We would rather run after suggestions and do bizarre things than learn physics.
But after all these repeated mistakes, I consider myself lucky that I didn't have to bid you goodbye. You have always been there whenever I needed any help.
I know I'm not worthy enough to write anything about you. Since I’m extremely unimpressive and have proven myself as a bad student. You deserve praise and admiration from the really good ones. Definitely you belong to them! But I am writing this because I feel that you didn’t get what you deserve at DCC. You were extremely under-appreciated, though students loved you a lot (My Observation: Boys love you more than girls. It is because girls don’t love physics. Pathetic. But I do!). All the things I’ve said here are my actual thoughts. And I believe there is a very explicit difference between ‘To fear’ and ‘To respect’ a teacher. I respected you more than any other teacher I have had known but the expression was always pretty much unorthodox since you seemed to be the person who would not mind being treated this way. I apologize if I have ever crossed any limit – in fun or in absence of my mind. Honestly, I enjoy disturbing you. Though I never want to hurt you, the man I truly respect and care about.
Anyway, it is your (indeed very banal and unattractive) new year present from me and I believe you deserve one (but better). You were the most important person of 2019 because you were the man whom I knew for a very short time but had made the ‘biggest difference’ in my way of understanding and embracing physics. I always pray for you and wish the best of your luck for your future.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, SIR! :-)
Yusrat Sadia Nailat
A Physics Enthusiast & Your Well-Wisher (the one with bizarre mind)
Dhaka City College
© 2022 Yusrat Sadia Nailat