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CBSE awarded 13 best educationists in India in New Delhi on Tuesday. One name in the list rang a bell and I was drifted back in time, to the memories of a very modest school building which was like a temple to us and to the extremely simple, sweet and charismatic lady who taught us English, Mahalakshmi S Iyengar, fondly called Iyengar Madam by all of us.

The news article brought back a joy unknown, a desire to go back to the school right away and touch her feet, which I remember doing when we were all leaving the school for good. The school will always be special to me in many ways. It gave me the chance to be friends with some of the best people I have known in my life so far. Not just that, It gave me my bestest friend Amit. Undisputably the best CBSE school in Ahmedabad, Prakash Higher Secondary School, was well known for the discipline and more than that, the quality of its teachers.

Now, when I sit back and think… I guess some of the best lessons in life were given to me by the school – in the form of its teachers and the students. In the words of our principal, “It isnt surprising then, that Prakash students excel in whatever they do. They may do something as modest as teaching, but they will excel in that.” And yes, I have seen this happen. Each and everyone of the 25 of us in the science stream 2000 batch, have carved a niche for themselves and are doing really well.

Now coming back to the particular teacher who has been awarded the “Best teachers award”, I have some very fond memories of time spent with her. Apart from all the english lessons, some of the things that she told me, changed my life forever.

Will narrate one of the incidents here…

I was always a very weak child, incapable of tolerating any kind of pain. So, every time I would have a stomach ache, I would go looking for a pain killer. On one such occasions I ran to her asking her for medicine. She asked me, a frown on her face “Why, whats wrong with you!? You look perfectly all right to me”. I told her, “No mam, its hurting really bad. I have a really bad stomach ache. Please give me something”. She made me sit next to her and the words that came after that, I know I will never forget. She said “Its time for you to realise that you are growing into a fine young woman. God made women, the way he did, so that she becomes more tolerant to pain. The one quality that sets women apart is that she has an amazing ability to endure pain. I want you to do that. Take that pain as if it is a part of you and not as something which is huge and different.”

It was that day and today, I have made sure that I do not take pain killers when I have stomach or back pain.

Thank you Mam. Thank you Prakash. For making me who I am!!!