I love to read, and I attribute my liking to a few good teachers I have had.
My very first english teacher was Ms. Rizwana from class 1 to class 5. In a day and age where teachers believed in spare the rod and spoil the child, she was a misfit. She never reprimanded her students, and almost treated them like her own kids. One day we had a free period and I was tearing my eraser apart into small pieces, which I would then go around ‘gifting’ to my friends and telling boys that they are not my friends so no eraser for them. She saw me do that and must have realized that keeping me occupied was a good idea. So she got me a few comics from the library to read. Thus my reading during lunch breaks, at the dining table at home, during holidays, and on train journeys began.
V.K. Sharma was my english teacher from classes 6-9. A lot of us made fun of him for his eccentric habits and his large family(4 kids of his own and a couple of his brother’s, all of whom were studying in our school), it was from him that I learnt to enjoy poetry. Until then, poetry was a mystery to me, only to be learnt by rote. He would read poetry in a sing-song manner and also discuss the meaning with us. Unlike other teachers who would read one line and explain that one line, he insisted that we read the whole poem first, then tell him what we think it is about, then start dissecting each line, thereby making poetry reading an enjoyable experience.
Last, but not the least, was our Probability, random Variables and stochastic processes professor in engineering college, Prof. P. R. K. Rao. Although most of the probability, random variables and stochastic processes that he taught went way over my head(I was dumb like that), it was the other things that he talked about that stayed with me. He used to start every class with something philosophical. He used to say that the youth should never weigh and make decisions, that youth should be impulsive. You become less averse to risk as you grow up. At 60+ he was the epitome of being forever young. He rarely missed classes and was punctual(although he would routinely jump over his one hour limit). One time all he talked about in the one hour class was Maugham. He started with talking about great books that everyone should read, like Of Human Bondage, and then started talking about Maugham, told us Razor’s Edge was a good book and that we should read it should we get a chance, etc.
Even to this day, whenever I pick up a Maugham book, I always think about him. About how he would love to know that he introduced so many of us to some great books, and how now we love what we have discovered.