December 31, 2008

Act of Genuine Humility

“Hey Jay! Madam warned us if we are late, she would not mark our attendance. We spent entire break. Hurry up man.” Kuntesh yelled at me and suddenly I remembered madam’s strict warning. We had “Written Analysis and Communication (WAC)” lecture consisting of two sessions and in between we had a break of 15 min. Due to general practice of coming late in class, Madam warned us in last lecture. I threw tea-cup in dustbin and ran towards class.

As usual, I was late to return. But while taking my seat, I saw many other students entering class late. I looked at madam’s angry face; she was about to tell us off. Suddenly I heard knock at door; Ashish too came late. The moment he reached at his place and noticed that roll call was already taken.

He shouted “Madam, roll number 10”. “I announced in last lecture if anybody comes after roll call, I would not mark his/her presence.” Madam replied.

“Then what is the meaning of sitting in the class?” Ashish yelled.

“It is your choice Ashish. If you feel we are not doing anything worth in class, you can leave.”

“But madam, you can not be rigid not to take attendance even if a student remains present.”

“I made myself very clear. This rule not only applies to you, there are many who came late. None of them will be marked present.”

“If it is so, I do not want to attend the class. Whatever you are doing is just a waste of time. Your teaching style is not good and we do not gain anything from your lectures.” Ashish

Ashish put his bag on shoulder, stood up and started walking outside the class. He angrily added “I am not saying for my sake only but I m doing on behalf of class.” He looked at other students and said “Why are sitting like dump? We should all boycott this subject.”

“Ashish! You better leave the class. This is your personal matter and don’t pull entire class in.” Anirudhdh confronted him pointing finger at him.

“Who the hell are you? You keep your mouth shut if you don’t want to support us. And how dare you point finger at me!” Ashish eyes went reddish. I was shocked watching this quarrel.

“Ashish! It would be better if you leave the class right now. If you have a complaint, you can talk to management. Shouting in class is not the way; you should show respect to faculty.” Anirudhdh said

“Would be please let me manage this matter Annirudhdh?” madam stopped Anirudhdh and turned his face to Ashish with calm “See Ashish! I try my best to provide maximum value addition. If there is some problem with my teaching style, we can talk about this. But current issue is not about that. I asked you all to maintain some decorum and some of you failed. Hence there will be the punishment we agreed upon last time. I would not change my decision at all. You can leave the class if you want.”

I was really surprised looking at madam’s humility. Ashish sat quietly.

After lecture completed, I and few late comers went to madam. We asked for apology for not maintaining the decorum and also for Ashish’s misbehavior. Madam marked our attendance. Thought Ashish misbehaved, madam asked us for his roll number and marked his presence.

Tejas (who works in the same college in admin department and also studies with us) informed madam about Ashish’s misbehavior with other faculty members. Tejas asked to complain about him. And then what madam replied which I never forget:

“He is not a bad guy. He is dissatisfied with something. As a professor it is my duty to know why he is so upset. Complaining is not the solution. When you find someone unhappy with you, you have two options: ignore him or talk with him about the actual cause. I am delighted that his dissatisfaction came out today otherwise I would never know about that. Perhaps there is some problem with my teaching style; his dissatisfaction will help me find what I lack. Don’t bother about it, I will manage.”

I put myself at her place and thought what I might have done in such situation. Maybe, I have expelled him or thrown out of my class. I can’t be so generous. I looked at my past; I reacted at many places with aggression. I assure you any aggressive person present on this event, must have realized what harm anger causes and how powerful humility is.