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Published on 06 Aug 2011 | over 6 years ago

Kalam and Ram were best friends in school but one day a teacher separated them. A touching story about how everyone learned a lesson.

A Lesson for my Teacher
I lived on the Mosque Street
in Rameswaram,
a city famous for its Shiva temple.
Every evening
on my way home from the mosque,
I would linger near the temple.
I always felt like a stranger here
as the temple goers
stared suspiciously at me.
They probably wondered
what a Muslim boy
was doing in front of a temple.
The truth was
that I loved to listen
to the rhythmic chanting of the mantras,
though I never understood a word.
There was a strange magic in them.
Of course,
something else led me there.
My best friend, Ramanadha Sastry,
was the son of the head priest.
He sat beside his father at this hour,
reciting hymns.
Ram would steal a smiling glance at me
from time to time.
At school,
Ram and I always sat together
on the first bench of our classroom.
We were like brothers.
However, being a Hindu priest's son,
he wore a sacred thread,
while my white cap
marked me as a Muslim.
One day,
when we were in the fifth standard,
a new teacher came to our class.
He looked strict.
He went around the class
tapping his cane on his palm
and stopped before us.
“You, the one in the white cap.
How dare you sit beside
the temple priest’s son!”
He shouted, “Go sit on the last bench.”
I felt hurt.
With tears in my eyes,
I picked up my books
and shifted to the last row.
Ram and I wept together silently
after school.
We thought
we would not be allowed to be friends
When I reached home that day
my father looked at me
and asked,
“Were you crying...
what’s wrong son?”
I recounted the whole incident
to my father
while Ram also
told his family the same story.
Early the next morning
Ram came running to our house
and said,
“Father has asked you
to come to our house immediately.”
I was terrified.
I thought I was in
for some more trouble.
We hurried back to Ram's house.
My heart skipped a beat
when I saw our new teacher
standing there.
“In the light of our discussion,
apologise to Kalam here,”
said Ram’s father
with a stern face.
I could not believe
what I had just heard!
The head priest
was asking the teacher
to apologise to me?
“No child is less than another
in God’s eyes.
It is your duty as a teacher
to help students live in harmony
in spite of the differences
in their background.
You can no longer teach
in this school,” he said.
Our teacher
immediately asked me to forgive him.
He hugged me and said,
“I am sorry, Kalam,
I have learnt an important lesson
in life today.”
Ram’s father saw that the teacher
sincerely regretted his behaviour
and permitted him to continue teaching.
From that day on,
Ram and I sat together proudly
on the front bench.
We have remained
the best of friends ever since.

Translator/Author : APJ Abdul Kalam with Arun Tiwari
Narration : Sunit Tandon
Music : Acoustricks
Illustration : Deepta Nangia
Animation : BookBox

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