Musing over a red pen

Twelve years ago I was on assignment to cover an interview with a businessman when my editor called me, furious, I hadn’t carried  a pen and paper, and was making mental notes! That sound hearing from a woman I greatly admired, one who was otherwise always composed- filled me with a life-long lesson in diligence, there may not always be pen-and-paper but there were certainly no shortcuts.

I began to think of that pen-and-paper incident when  I turned up at college today to check the girls final examination papers without a red pen; it was handed over to me rather kindly, “It’s just a red pen.” I spent the rest of the day in a staff room correcting papers, over a generous supply of coffee and sandwiches and even a Bombay vada pav.

When I walked out into the Bangalore sun, I realized I had somehow done it- six long months of my semester 6 teaching stint with the Communications Studies students at Mt. Carmel College, were now behind me.

I was afraid at first, how do you be and stay relevant to a classroom full of young girls infinitely smarter, and a digital generation ahead of you? How do make the hours worth their time, how do you hold their attention, their interest, and even make them laugh? There were good days, and not-so-good days- but there were moments that were worth it:

When a girl stayed to ask you a question after class. When someone told you she now had a job, because of her lesson in Linkedin. When someone brought an example to class you hadn’t heard of before. When someone sent in an assignment so painstakingly poignant, you easily believed the world was still a beautiful place. When you and the class chuckled together over a dating blog; across the years; love always unites. And, when you struck the last red signature, knowing they had turned out alright. And perhaps you had too…

There’s a lot of little and big turns over the last nine years- and what are the odds, everything had turned out more than alright.



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