It was a bright sunny morning with cool easterlies cheering up the freshly awakened Delhizens. Shyamolie banged her hand on the table clock to hush up the clanging morning alarm. She turned to cuddle her son and planted a loving kiss on the cheek of the little cherub, still dreaming with an angelic smile on his face. Ruffling the dark brown curls framing his innocent face, she woke him up and sent him to the wash room to freshen up and get ready for the school. Slowly she dragged herself out of bed and went ahead with her daily chores.

Her friendly neighborhood squirrel darted around the window sil in the hope of getting some crumbs and peanuts. Keeping a quick eye on the fast moving hands of the kitchen clock, she made herself a cup of lemon tea and quickly packed her five-year old son's favorite banana cake and vegetable cutlets in his Lion King lunch box. That day, in her husband's absence, she also had to drop him at his school before rushing off to the school where she taught English literature to senior classes.

Warm sun rays and the cool breeze filtering through the flowery blue-pink curtains draping the windows of the teachers' chamber, fresh and dewy blazing red and sunny yellow gerberas on the corner table, excited babble of a younger colleague about a chance meeting with the current Bollywood heartthrob, fragrant aroma of freshly brewed hot coffee...nothing seemed to cheer her up, she didn't know why. Perhaps it was just the effect of Monday morning blues-she tried to console herself. It had been a hectic week, the weekend had brought no respite to her what with guests at home and loads of notebooks to correct. Of late she had started feeling that the workload was simply multiplying with each passing day allowing her no time to enjoy the antics of her fast growing mischievous son, spend any time with her techie husband or any 'me' time for herself.

So she wasn't exactly looking forward to braving yet another day with six sets of naughty, boisterous and at times irritating students although she was quite fond of children.

The day went off just as she had anticipated-stressful to say the least-the children being in an unusually hyperactive and naughty mood ! By the recess, she was in a real mess. She had a splitting headache and even had a small tiff with a colleague which was a rarity because she shared a congenial relationship with most of them. She tried to soothe her jangling nerves by splashing her face with some cold water as she still had to teach three more classes.

She tried to console herself that it was just one of those days which comes at least once every year in every professional's life when one feels like calling it quits to move on to greener pastures. Yet, as she walked into the last class for the day, of which she happened to be the class teacher also, she was mulling over a very tempting offer she had received a week ago from a reputed international publishing house. A handsome salary with fixed working hours, no work to take back home and a plush air conditioned office- the offer was too good to refuse even in dreams.

A loud 'Good Afternoon Ma'am' jolted her back to the reality...oh, she was in her class!

Wearily, she started asking recapitulatory questions from the previous week's chapter. No answers forthcoming- not even from the best students of her class-now this was the last straw! She really blew her top. Venting her ire at the students, she refused to teach them any further or even be their class teacher in the next session. Having let out steam, she literally collapsed into the chair and closed her eyes to shut out the devastated students. They were perhaps too shocked to react-this was not their favorite affectionate Shyamolie ma'am! The classroom fell absolutely silent- so silent she could hear her own racing heartbeat.

Minutes ticked by...then a chair creaked, another, then another and then she felt a moist hand on her own and heard a muffled 'sorry, ma'am'! As she slowly opened her eyes, she found everyone standing up holding their ears, apology writ large on each face. A silent tear trickled down the cheek of the student in the front row. Her own wet eyes mirrored the agony of her students.

Perhaps she was just being a sentimental fool but the decision was made that very moment. This was her calling-among children most dear to her because of their special ways- mischievous, irritating but still very affectionate and affection was what they were going to get from her. The MNC with its plush office and handsome salary be damned!


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