A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME……. While I enjoyed a wonderful rapport with all my students during Term Time, I had a huge problem during the Parent Teacher Meeting . You see, I JUST COULDN’T REMEMBER NAMES! Now, Parent Teacher Meeting happens four times a year at School and The Staff Meeting on the eve of this great event doesn’t help any either!
Our Supervisor said cheerily: “ Remember, dress nicely and SMILE! Then the Staff Meeting would be airily dismissed leaving me with my colossal problem!
So I don a pretty saree, put on a freshly laundered white coat, and practice my SMILE in front of the Bathroom mirror. Not at my Dressing Table, lest my dear husband walk in to ask if I’m ready, only to find me grinning inanely at the mirror like a CHESHIRE CAT!
In the Staff Room, I devise a plan to save myself from UTTER embarrassment! I draw columns on a sheet of Foolscap Paper! Then I take out my compact mirror and practice my SMILE again! Now, why did I suddenly think of Shakespeare’s quote about SMILING AND SMILING AND YET BEING A VILLAIN???????
Banish the thought! I’m NOT a VILLAIN! I’m a nice Teacher with a poor memory for names, that’s all! Really! Shakespeare said some odd things now, didn’t he?
Soon, Parents arrive with a scared looking boy-in-tow! I SMILE, and wave them to seats at the opposite side of the Table, while the boy-in-tow, twists his fingers looking miserable! My Mother’s heart kicks in!
Pushing the Paper and pen towards him, I say sweetly: “ Beta, ( What’s in a name I think, when this term of endearment ALWAYS works) would you please fill in those columns? Good boy. Don’t forget Papa’s Contact Number too okay?”
Now the Parents begin to look tense.
“ Just routine stuff, you know,” I say with an apologetic half- smile to the Parents. “ Supervisor wants to know how many Parents came in to see me today.”
Everyone breathes a lot easier now.
I watch carefully as the boy-in-tow fills in Name…Class and Section… Register No………
The first two are all I really need to know. Who cares about the rest? I pull out a Mark Sheet and slide it across the Table : “ There you are!” I say to the Parents.
I watch the Father run his finger down the list of names to see who scored more marks than his child , while the Mother peers anxiously over his shoulder! Indian Parents!
Then, before they turn to the boy-in-tow to upbraid him in front of me, I beam my brightest smile and pitch in non-stop with my Teacher-Talk- about how talented this boy is at Music…. how I absolutely enjoy having him in my class-…what he said to me JUST THE OTHER DAY…- how he needs to just do a bit more extra reading….As I talk, I scribble crazily on a piece of paper- READERS’ DIGEST, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, INDIA TODAY, TWINKLE MAGAZINE….I give it to the eager Parents telling them in all seriousness that this is where we English Teachers pick our Comprehension Passages from for the Exams.
I SMILE, glance at my wrist watch, and rise to say good-bye!
At School the next day, the boy-in-tow sidles up to me and says: “ Maam,thank you for saying all those nice things to my parents. They think you are a very sweet, affectionate Teacher because you address me as ‘BETA’ and not by my name.”
I cringe inwardly and try not to blush, because I still DON’T KNOW HIS NAME!
“Really, Beta? How nice of them. I liked them too,” I say.
“And Maam, my Mom loved your smile and the pretty saree you wore yesterday!”
Shakespeare was SPOT ON . After all, a rose called by any other name would still smell as sweet, now wouldn’t it?

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