A Tribute to a Teacher

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Thank you Saeen Ghulam Muhammad Mallah -We are indebted

Zaffar Junejo

It was era of inspiration, it was era of liberty, it was era of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto – new schools were being opened, the lux soap was replacing the lifebuoy soap, the detergent powder was replacing the ‘Khar’, the ‘Chheet’ was pushed by ‘Jarjhet’, and ‘Herkh’ was being cornered, irrigation water was still in abundance, establishing of Dadu Sugar Mills was under discussion. However, the radio was still in, and it caused the people to gather around it.

One day, as usual, we were gathered at Nano Karim Bux’s Otaq for listening BBC, where I heard that one teacher is coming to join Boriri Middle School. I still recall that Nane told my father (Wali Muhammad) that Atta Muhmmad (father of Rozina Junejo) has asked to make the arrangement. It was the first overheard conversation, where I listed the name of Saeen Ghulam Mugmmad Mallah. I vaguely recall it was 1973 or 1974. One day a man, in pure white shalwar qameez came in, on a the motorbike. Still, I remember it was winter, and in evening Ama (Gulshad Begum) opened loh wari peti (iron box) and asked my help hold its heavy lid, and I did so. She took out farasi, pathernni (thin cotton filled layer), and sawarr (heavily cotton-filled blanket), chardar (bedsheet) decorated with jhalar (beautifully interlaced hangings), it was work of Ar (long needle), which was done by Puphi Khadija. These arrangements impressed me a lot. Really it was first time I learned that farasi is also part of the bed, and it is reserved for the important guests.

Nana Karim Bux reserved one room of his Otaq for Saeen Ghulam Muhammad. Saeen, after school duty, rested for a while and started teaching students in the evening. There may be other students, but I recall three names: Bilquees Junejo (my elder sister), Abdul Rashid Junejo (my maternal-uncle) and Asghar Junejo (my maternal-uncle). Perhaps, all of them were students of class seven, at the middle school Boriri. I nebulously recall, Saeen taught them all subjects however more emphasis was on English language. I always followed what they are learning from Saeen Ghulam Muhammad. Thus, I punctually looked at the tuition copies of Adi Bilquees. Although I was in primary, at that time, but I have memorized some introductory conversing words/ sentences – ‘Good Morning’, ‘What is your name’, and how to ask for permission before entering the room. One day, I went to collect the utensils and other items from Saeen’s room. I remember – hesitantly but in audible voice begged permission- ‘MY enter the room? Quick response in a question came in – ‘My I enter the room? Or May I enter the room?  I was not sure. But I instantly said, ‘May I enter the room?’  Yes, come in, I entered, and series of questions was in the queue for me. I recall, one question, it was of the general mathematic – Dhedh, Adhai, Sadha Te Aen Punna Char Ghanna Theya (what is total of one and half, two and half, three and half and three and seventy-five), I worked mentally, Saeen noticed my silence, and said Okay, next week. Meanwhile, I came with answer, and indirectly uttered the number. Afterward, he asked about my studies. It was first formal introduction to Saeen, Ghulam Muhammad Mallah.  Let me confess that still I ask the same question, while I meet the students of primary classes – Dhedh, Adhai, Sadha Te Aen Punna Char Ghanna Theya?

Another event I recall that that one day, Saeen Sir Shafi (one of the brilliant and committed teachers of our area) came to our village (he always rode a bicycle). Saeen Ghulam Muhammad and my father welcomed him. The topic of their discussion was education. But suddenly, Sir Shafi addressed to me and asked, in which class I am studying? Before, I answer, questions came in series– are you good in studies? and who are clever students in your class? I looked at my father for quick support, but Saeen Ghulam Muhamamd rescued me, he said ‘he is in competition with himself’ – I was saved, and discussion turned to old topic. It was a simple sentence, but it became the part of my sub-consciousness, it revealed itself in full-bloom-expression, while I read Buddhism, where I learned that how one improves himself/herself while making his/her yesterdays as reference. I recall, in the same gathering, it was discussed or indirectly told me that handwriting is the first introduction of students’ personality. This message also pushed me to improve my handwriting. Still I carry these instructions voluntarily with myself- perhaps my love for beautiful ink-pens, fine-paper, and stationery are founded on the conversation of that day, and that love has turned into my longing to write in longhand, although, writing on computer screen is convenient for me. Let me state that while I write in longhand, it soothes me in so many ways- emotionally as well as physically- and credit goes to trio – Saeen Ghulam Muhammad Mallah, Sir Shafi and Saeen Wali Muhammad (my father, who was primary teacher).

Saeen, we all–my family (Adi Bilqees, Abdul Rashid Junejo, and late Asghar Junejo) and my friends (Gulsher Mangi and others who were your students at Boriri) are grateful to you and will remain so-today, tomorrow and forever. We pray – YOU MAY BE AS HAPPY AND FORTUNE AS YOU ARE GOOD.

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