1. The Incident
1.1) What happened actually
My teacher was a bookworm. He used to read any book that he found near his hand — fiction, non-fiction, young-adult, novels, short stories — and the list goes on and on. He used to love the works of both English and Bengali authors. One of his favorite authors was Sir GB Shaw.
I borrowed the book 5 days before the Bengali New Year which was on the fifteenth of April. I started reading it that day. On the sixteenth, I had a sudden high fever, and five days later, I was tested COVID positive. What prompted us to test was the news that our science teacher — Mr Sugata Dutta aka Bitun Sir — was tested positive. He was even admitted to the hospital. I felt sorry for him. He was having high sugar and pressure altogether.
I was slowly recovering from COVID, and on a Sunday — to be precise — the 25th of April, I heard a piece of heart-scattering news — Bitun Sir expired! I was nearly on the verge of crying when I stopped myself.
The mere words can’t describe how he befriended us. And if you know what I mean, he was more a friend to us than a teacher. In his class, we used to study less and learn more — i.e. he used to intimate us with the world outside the books. We were very happy to be certified as his students.
1.2) How it impacted me
On hearing the news, my recovery rate, which an extremely slow one, slowed down further. The whole of my locality was in a state of shock. He was even not at the age for it — he had nine years of service left in The Indian Railways.
I, at first, could not control myself from crying. Then, I convinced myself that if I would cry, his soul would not be in peace. He would always be thinkin’ that we were sad. Silly right? But at these particulars of moments, these thoughts are inevitable.
1.3) Lessons from the tragedy
This incident is one such that can never be forgotten by me or any student of his. As you know, he would intimate us to the world outside books. He would all the pros and cons of almost everything he knew (and almost none of the important things in today’s world would be found with he was unacquainted). As an Indian, he was interested deeply in politics and philosophy.
The tragedy almost changed the course of my life — though it is just a month old. I, better to say we, used to consider him as the guiding light for us. This unexpected incident made our way dark for a couple of days. But, incidents are born to cope up with. A few suggestions from my parents helped me overcome the shock. I started utilising the oxygen I had to inflame the torch to guide me through the course of my life. Well, it wasn’t that easy, but practice makes a man perfect! So, I kept on conquering my feelings and finally was able to withstand the enormous pain it caused.
2. How he taught me to read books
Well, I used to think that book reading is an easy business — but it certainly isn’t! What one needs to remember while is most important — the purpose for it. I used to think that the purpose was just a time-pass. I was correct to myself until I joined his class.
On the first day, he just discussed books I had read and what he had read. He also suggested a few books to read. On a certain day — I don’t remember which — he asked me a question from a book I had read, and I was unable to answer it as it had flung out of my memory. He then made a worth-hearing speech which said, “বই কেন পড়ে লোকে? ভুলে বসে থাকার জন্য? না কাজে লাগানোর জন্য?” This meant — “Why do people read books? Just to forget about the context? Or to utilize the knowledge gained?”
It changed the way I saw a book’s page. It made me read between the lines and forced me to remember the gist of every book I read. And to be truthful, I like this way of reading books more than the former method.
I would always feel the loss of Sir, but I also need to study hard to pursue my career. I have a dream that one day, I will become as knowledgeable as he was!