(Written on 28 September, 2006)
Today happened to be the first time that my professor had a paper published in an international journal. He was on cloud nine. (publishing papers in renowned journals for post-doctoral professors is a big deal.) He is so much in love with the subject that his passion comes through in every lecture. I absolutely love his class.
Somewhere during a discussion, we drifted into Vedic culture and the way Indian society is today. And we touched on the subject of 'value for education'. Education is everything for the Indian parent. They will go through any amount of hardship to make sure their children get the best. So while discussing this, my professor slowly opened his heart out about his journey into Ancient Indian Culture, the difficulties his family faced when he decided to take up something that did not have "scope" (translated as 'potential to earn money') and about times of immense poverty.
He spoke of a time when he was 15 (about 20 years ago) and wanted a book that was quite expensive. A book on ancient Indian history by a well-known author for a princely sum of 500 rupees, which was a fair bit at the time. His father had called him to go to a book exhibition where it would be available. On reaching there, he told his father about his desire to buy the book, not sure whether he would be able to buy it for him. Before getting the book for him, his father only asked him if he would make the best use of it. On getting his assurance, my professor's dad told him to take the book. When my professor asked him how he would pay for it, he told him not to worry about it. While he walked away with the book, he looked back to see his father borrowing sums as small as 50 rupees (a little over $1 today) from colleagues to buy the book promising he would he would return the money to them the following month. And today, when he told his parents about his paper being published in the international journal, they told him the efforts were all worth it.
After telling us this, he simply broke down. It is, by far, one of the most magical moments of my life. I can't describe the atmosphere in the classroom. It was charged. One of those times, when you can hear a pin drop and yet there is so much being said, when you look up at the sky and shut your eyes for a few seconds to acknowledge that supreme Power who blesses all of us.
We ended class on that wonderful high.
I didn't feel like speaking to anyone for a while after that. I just wanted to stay with the moment for as long as I could. I walked around aimlessly for a bit, found my way to the bus stop and the bus ride home is a blur.
I'm sure this pathetic attempt at describing what happened in that classroom does not capture even 10% of the moment. But I hope you understand where it's coming from.