Mr.Tulaskar had adopted teaching as a hobby after retirement from a technical career. He started offering a helping hand for English along with technical subjects to aspiring and needy students.  

They were at different stages of youth, from different backgrounds with financial conditions varying within a narrow bandwidth of the lower middle class. All of them had dreams in their eyes, aspirations to win over the entire world. Their parents, struggling to provide education to their wards with the hope that one day their progeny would have enough strength to face this world to be successful.

Then the semester results were out for Engineering Diploma students. Most of the boys managed to get through but Yesh had 3 A.T.K.T.s(Allowed To Keep Terms for further studies with a second chance to reappear for the test along with the new semester tests). Mr. Tulaskar decided to pull Yesh out of this problem.

So, he started to have separate sessions on the weekends. He explained the technical subjects to Yesh in vernacular. Intelligent that he was, he picked up and performed sufficiently well and cleared the next semester along with the pending A.T.K.T.s. Yesh further continued his studies to get a Bachelor of Engineering.

Suresh, a student, brought another boy, Deepak, to the class. He appeared sharp but Tulaskar found him a little different from other boys. When asked for his qualification, he took out his S.S.C. mark sheet. Tulaskar saw his marks in all subjects were bordering fifty percent except mathematics where he had scored 99 percent. When the class was over, Tulaskar called Suresh. “I have found Deepak a little strange when he was talking. Is there any problem with him?”

“Sir, he has been diagnosed as “autistic”. He is normal otherwise. But when it comes to dialogue, he gets confused. He has proved himself as a wizard of mathematics. Any mathematical problem he solves with utmost ease. But he has difficulty in explaining methods. He fares very poorly in describing procedures. And in maths, he has never scored less than 99 percent during the last 3-4 years. Do you think he will pose a problem for you? His father was against putting him in this class. But I asked Deepak about the English speaking, and he was excited. He was eager to join. I told his father about Deepak’s keen interest. He said if the teacher finds him unsuitable, he should not continue with the class. Do you find him bothering you, Sir?”

“No. No. I have not found him troublesome as yet. If I notice anything disturbing others, I will let you know. Till then he can continue.” Tulaskar hurriedly explained.

With the new bond developed with the teenagers, Deepak’s background offered an extra challenge. Tulaskar decided to take some additional efforts on him.

Periodically, Tulaskar used to have tests to assess the students’ progress. The student getting the highest marks was rewarded with a chocolate or a small souvenir. Even an outstanding performance in the class period would be appreciated with a bar of chocolate. The prizes used to be divided among all students inculcating the idea of sharing. Deepak never had any opportunity to receive a prize. But Tulaskar was happy that he appreciated the winners wholeheartedly.

One day, Tulaskar called Deepak and asked him to see him after the class. When everyone left, Tulaskar found Suresh with Deepak waiting for him. Tulaskar called Deepak close to him. Deepak looked at Suresh and told him to come with him. Tulaskar noticed that Deepak was a bit scared to talk to him alone.

“Deepak, I want to talk to you alone. Let Suresh wait outside the class.” Suresh turned towards the door. Tulaskar saw Deepak was tense.

” OK. Suresh, you also wait. Deepak, I saw your mark sheets. You have done exceedingly well in mathematics throughout. Do you like maths so much?”

Deepak’s face brightened up. He nodded.

“Derivatives, integration. My god! Honestly. I am scared of mathematics. I am an Engineer but still, mathematics has always given me goosebumps. And you are excellent at that. Great. Anyway, I want to tell you Deepak, I found you a little tense when I was teaching. Dear friend, there is nothing to be afraid of. Everyone coming here is seeking some help to speak English. Some are quick to pick up, some are slow. That should not matter at all. I am quite used to slow learners. If you feel you have not understood something, it is my fault, not yours. Raise your hand and I will explain it to you again. If you find it awkward to stand up in the class and ask about your difficulty, you can meet me after the class. I am available to clarify your doubts. Do you know Rajendra? He waits for me after the class many a time to clarify his difficulty. Don’t ever feel, you are troubling me. Even Ajay. Have you met him?”

Deepak moved his head from side to side.

“Ajay is a very brilliant Engineer today. But when he joined the class, he could not speak even a sentence. And now, he can give lectures, wonderful lectures.

And Deepak, don't ever forget your mastery of mathematics. Where most students are weak, you are visibly strong. So do not get bogged down by your weakness. We will work together, you and I. And I am sure you will get over the apprehension of speaking. Don’t worry at all. You may make a mistake. We will correct it. You make the same mistake again. We will correct it again. Till you get comfortable, we will repeat the session. If it is hindering the class, we will work after the class hours. Ok?

Do you find me frightful?”

Deepak nodded negatively.

“Then next time onwards don’t make Suresh wait for you whenever you want to talk to me after class. Ok? We are friends. As Suresh is my good friend, you also can be my good friend. Alright? See you then tomorrow.”

Tulaskar picked up his book and started going out of the classroom.

Deepak also turned and started leaving the room. He found Suresh already at the door.

Slowly their interaction increased. They had many meetings after the class.

Tulaskar was reminded of Nebula, often called the Star Nursery. It is the region in space, where new stars are formed, from the remnants of an age-old dying star.

Deepak was catching up with other students.

After a couple of weeks, in the class, Tulaskar was discussing perfect tense. He threw a question to the class, “Any doubt? Is everyone clear?”

After silence for some time, an unexpected hand was raised. That was Deepak. He got up. “But sir, what is the difference between present perfect and past perfect?”

Tulaskar was wonderstruck. Thrilled at the same time. “Deepak, very good difficulty. The difference is the reference. Present perfect is referring to the event in the present tense and past perfect is referring the event that had happened earlier. Look, if I say …. “ He continued explaining the further details. He was posing questions during the discussion and Deepak was answering them. It took some time but the concept got clear not only with Deepak but the whole class was satisfied as well.

When the class was over, Tulaskar found Deepak mingling with students other than Suresh and discussing the matter. Tulaskar was elated to see this picture.

And slowly Deepak was a good friend of most of the students of the class.

A few days later, Tulaskar called Suresh and told him, " Suresh, Deepak is performing very well. Can I tell you something? I suggest you discuss some concepts of physics with Deepak. And give me feedback. Ok?"

“Sure Sir.”

After a couple of days, Suresh shared his experience. Suresh said, “ Sir, Deepak explained the concept of surface tension to me so beautifully, that all my doubts are cleared. Sir, Deepak has changed.”

Hearing this news, Tulaskar was delighted. Slowly Deepak was coming out of his shell. His friend’s circle was increasing. He was getting popular amongst the youngsters. His authority over mathematics made him the most sought-after.

National festivals were celebrated by the students. On these occasions, the best-performing student was felicitated. It was appreciated by all of them although the awards were not of any significant monetary value. And once Deepak was the recipient of The Best Performance award.

Very soon Deepak appeared for the final year of B.Sc. Mathematics.

Tulaskar was anxious to know the results. Meanwhile, he had become Tulaskar’s good friend. In fact, Deepak had become a part of his extended family.

And the University results were declared. Deepak stood second in the college. His overall performance had improved considerably. This was authentic proof of changes taking place in Deepak.

That day Deepak’s parents went with a packet of sweets to Tulaskar’s house.

"Sir, you have done a miracle. A boy who was getting sidetracked as a hopeless case of Autism Spectrum Disorder, you have brought him onto the right track. Sir, we are obliged. We are indebted."      

The bond developed during the learning of speaking English and later in personality development was so thick that even after entering the professional world, the students kept in touch with the UBUNTU group and It was getting a form of a family. The extended family was increasing in size every 5-6 months.

Gradually, the UBUNTU group started changing its complexion. The celebration of the national festivals was entirely managed by the senior members. The earning members willingly contributed to the expenses. The itinerary, the games, the prizes, everything was handled by them.

Days, months were passed. After every 3-4 months new batches of students were made comfortable with English.

That evening, in the clear sky, stars identified by Tulaskar were shining brightly.

And to culminate his pleasure, one evening Deepak came to his house with great news. He showed an offer letter from ISRO at Sriharikota near Chennai. Appreciating his Doctorate in mathematics and his interest in Cosmology, he was offered the position of Senior Scientist in a research laboratory.

The fledgling young ones had taken to flights of great heights.

October 30, 2021 06:03

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