A teacher who cares like a mom, scolds like a dad, teases like a sister, irritates like a brother and loves more than a lover - Komal Phuyal, the shepherd in my writing class, made me write better. Standing here with a feeling of "Yes, I write good these days" reminds me of all those impression of that crazy-like weird person who was supposed to take my very first class of academic writing at the Central Department of English, Tribhuvan University. It was the first class at Master’s degree program in English. Everyone was excited as they were all eager to get to meet new professors. I was wondering as I felt that there would be a gentle, handsome, well-behaved, well-dressed, well-spoken person in front of the students in class. And here comes the most cunning, fat, sesame-rice hairy man whose belt was almost at the verge of suicide, whose specs seemed as though they were stolen from the nineteenth century collection at a modern museum and whose clothes could not permit him to stand in as a university professor of our mind in front of us. And yet, that man shook the earth beneath us, to teach us how to cultivate dream, and explore the treasure hidden within us. Here I’m going to share my intimate feeling on how my teacher Komal Phuyal consumed his candle to enlighten our skills hidden within us, inspired us to be creative, and helped us identify the vast ocean of ideas lying at slumber in our own head.
It was the sixth week of our first semester when I had my friend from R.R Campus at my place: we were having a hot green tea in my study room. In the meantime, suddenly my friend's eyes were caught by a thick book in shelf. As he took the book he asked me, "Isn't this book from the first semester of MA? It seems like you haven't touched it yet. And that took me back to the class where many of my friends used to scold Phuyal sir for not going through book, and that also made me confess that "Yes, I haven't gone through this book called Ideas &Details much.” Smiling to myself, I felt so warm in heart because I had already got piles of ideas and details from him, being present in his class. I had heard somewhere, “The best teacher teaches from heart, not from the book." I learnt so much more from his lecture than from the books. As a Japanese proverb reads, "Studying one day with a great teacher is far better than thousand days of diligent study.” Each and every moment with him boosted our being: he took our hand, opened our mind, and touched the heart.
I still remember that rainy day when I (including with my friends) had visited his presentation on research that he had carried out for his PhD degree. Though it was cold outside, he was sweating a lot while presenting his paper. Surrounded by his professors, we could see how much a student feels in front of his/her professor; and yet, we were there as his friends as if we were no more afraid of him. This shows how much intimate he was with us: in fact, he had actually crossed the barrier of traditional conditioning of teacher and student and become our friend to make us feel comfortable as better human. From that day on, a seed started sprouting in me which inspired me to do a serious research on very special topic as he dared to do. And here I am still writing and researching to make this world a better place as though the seed has begun to sprout in me. And that reminds me a quotation by Henry Adams, “A teacher affects eternity he can never tell where his influence stops." Up to this day, I am always inspired to enlighten myself and to light many candles I see in the future generation. So, this culture of enlightening world goes on and on.
When I passed Bachelor’s Degree, there was a huge ego in me and my friends. Later, when Phuyal sir started saying, "My rules are my rules" as if he is the ruler of this whole country, it really broke our ego. His rules, guidance, and teaching method made us realize what our existence really was. The way we studied before and the way we do now was completely different. His scolding voice and strict rules brought irritation in whole class at first but later on, his rules shaped us the way a potter shapes the clay and an artist crafts a stone and throws out all the unnecessary parts away to present it with a beautiful shape of God that he is sure will be worshiped later. As Robert John Meehan argues, "Teacher are not 'just teachers', but are the managers of the world's greatest resource: children!" I can't count how much we scolded him at first, and later on couldn't stop praising him. Through the entire semester, he used to say, “If you are made up of glass, you will break and if you are made up of metal, I’ll bring you in perfect shape.” Finally, he proved us as a metal and shaped us in such a way that we had never been like this before, not much strong about our writing.
While concluding this writing, I really do not want to explain what people said about him because for world, teacher may appear just a teacher but for a student a good teacher becomes a hero, who leads student from ignorance to enlightenment. Today when I see many of my writings published in national and international journals, I feel I have forgotten many things which he said in the class; yet, I haven't forgotten how he made us feel about writing. I do not want to see only Dr. Komal Phuyal in him, but a living experience that the legacy of many professors lineage of education following him and this lineage of wisdom shall follow through all the scholars from that batch. His graceful being reminds me of Will Schuester's words that run thus: "The best teachers don't give you the answers, they just point the way and let you make your own choices. Your own mistakes. That way you get all the glory and you deserve it."
Date: 18 May 2016