Teacher Rao: A Beacon of Humility and Inspiration2 min read

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I spent a few months studying at Ramakrishna Vidyalaya in New Paloncha during the early 1980s. My memories of that time are still vivid. I can recall the imposing hill that stood beside the school and the nearby fields of Bengal gram. Our day began with an assembly session that was quite challenging for some students. I distinctly remember a girl who fainted during one of those sessions. During these gatherings, our principal would address the entire school, and we would participate in devotional and spiritual hymns. At that time, our new school building was still under construction, so our classrooms were located in thatched cement huts.

On the occasion of Teacher’s Day, I fondly remember a remarkable teacher named Mr. Rao, if I remember his name correctly, who was our Telugu teacher. He often shared anecdotes from his own childhood, reminiscing about his teachers, whom he affectionately referred to as ‘Ayyavaru.’ He spoke about how these teachers had a profound impact on his character and career, even though they were strict and occasionally resorted to cane punishments. He never concealed his rustic background or accent and frequently mentioned his tough upbringing, including his daily walks to the village school without wearing shoes. He took immense pride in his roots, and this was evident to anyone who knew him.

One amusing incident I recall involves an article in our class textbook about a renowned figure named ‘Dokka Seethamma,’ known for her philanthropic work. I casually mentioned to a friend that she happened to be a relative of our grandfather. Somehow, this information reached Mr. Rao. One day, when I entered the class late and struggled to find a seat, he announced, “Guys, make room for the great-grandson of Dokka Seethammagaru!” I blushed with embarrassment, and the entire class burst into laughter. Later, he asked me about my connection to her, and I explained. He commended me, saying that I should be proud of my heritage and encouraged me to follow in her footsteps by engaging in charitable endeavors.

People like Teacher Rao are rare gems. They bring their humble backgrounds to the forefront, making others feel comfortable, and they shine brightly in their humility.

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