Manas Ranjan Mohapatra
Many of my friends may have forgotten that once upon a time I was a visiting faculty in the Delhi University’s College of Vocational Studies in their PG Course in Book Publishing for about 5 years. I used to teach Editing. My friends Dr. G S Jolly was also teaching Editing and Kalyan Banerjee and Sumit Bhattacharjee Book Production.
My assignment as a faculty came as a surprise. Sumit and I were good friends and were commuting to office together. His assignment from the University came first, he was an alumni too of the College of Vocational Studies. I used to accompany him as we were to go back home together. Prof Jolly did not know that I am a visiting faculty in IIMC and a few centers of excellence. Urvashi Butalia was once sharing with him the job of teaching editing. One day he surprised me by offering to teach editing.
So, I started teaching Book Editing. We used to reach the college everyday by 6 pm. It was an evening course in self-financing Mode. There were two 50 minutes periods. Our students were mostly professionals or those preparing for competitive examinations. One of them, Sakul Kundra had already completed his M Phil and was doing Ph.D. in History at JNU. He was our best student and got Gold Medal in his batch. He used to send me Teachers’ Day gift for many years even after the college stopped the course. Now he is a Professor.
Besides Sakul I fondly remember two girls. One was working with Sage Publications and the other with Macmillan. If I correctly recollect, Swati was with Sage. She used to come everyday at 7.30 pm and was with at least two questions which was to be instantly replied by me. And, the other girl working with Macmilan wanted notes from me for her preparation for the examination.
‘But I have never prepared notes in my entire career. ‘I told the girl. She was upbeat. She thought that I was probably hiding something. One day she reached my office with her parents with a packet of sweets.
‘If you have come on a courtesy call, I accept this sweet packet and will gladly share with Sumit and other colleagues here as it is from my student. And if you want any favor , I am afraid, I may have to regret accepting your gift. Please don’t misunderstand me.’I said.
Then he divulged his intention. His doubt was, since I have two post graduate degrees with two decades of experience in the field, I must have prepared notes and may not be willing to share.’Believe me, my daughter will use it only for her examination.., ’he assured
‘I am a teacher, I never disbelieve my students’, I said.
Then I asked, ‘You want your daughter to be an editor or a clerk. If you want her to be an editor, I will do that labour. And, if you want her to be a clerk, I can recommend some self-help series books for preparation.’
‘And examination…be sure she will get over 90 percent marks. I know her standard, ’I concluded.
We had a nice time in gossip. He never came back to me. His daughter got 97 percent in her examination.
And, two years ago I met the CEO of Sage Publications in a Panel Discussion. He informed me that my other student Swati now heads the Editorial Division of a noted Publishing House in Singapore.
Teachers’ Day is not a day for students to remember their teachers,it can be the other way round. I feel honored that Sakul Kundra is now is a Professor in Fiji University and Swati heads the Editorial Division of an international publishing house. This is a great honor for me as a teacher.
(The Author Manas Ranjan Mahapatra is a former editor of National Book Trust, New Delhi. Views are personal)
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