There was a teacher

Greater Kashmir

There are different professions we humans take up. The purpose of this choice is that human beings work according to their aptitude. The best professions are teaching and practicing medicine. These are a source of reasonable earning and also earning eternal good will. Nothing is satisfying more than serving the humanity.

These noble professions are always acclaimed high in a society as long as these are fair in practice. Once an element of exploitation creeps in, both doctors and teachers are looked down upon. A teacher always is expected to update himself in order to be creative and innovative to give something new and different to the students. The students may have nowadays different source of knowledge available but a teacher enjoys a pivotal position, because he is live and interacts with students. His love and affection for the students enriches their life and the teacher performs as a role model. Students also reciprocate this love by way of obedience, submission and respect. A teacher enjoys this love from students even after his retirement from active service, or from life. Thus teachers are expected to perform their role with zeal and zest, dedication and commitment, love and affection to the profession and to the people because a teacher serves humanity at large.

Our beloved teacher Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, who passed away on 20th July 2020 was the best-fit in the context of aforesaid criterion. He taught us at Government High School Nowhatta from 1966-1970. He taught us Mathematics (Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geometry), Urdu and Persian. He was a well-trained teacher with B.A, B.Ed. He was gentle, soft spoken, highly enthusiastic and well committed teacher. He made us to understand basics of mathematics very deeply. He made us comprehend every verse thoroughly.

In 1968, there was heavy snowfall on 29th April. This untimely snowfall caused havoc in the valley. Orchids around Jamia Masjid Srinagar were destroyed as trees were uprooted. We went to school and Urdu class was conducted as usual. Mohdammad Yousuf asked us to open notebooks and write an essay “Kashmir mai bewakt barfbari”. He dictated us the contents and we wrote down the essay. After completing the task he corrected the text. Today, I realize after so many decades that what facility he had available or what source he made use of to guide us to write this essay. There was no internet those days. The local newspapers did not hit stands that morning. There was no television either. However, what I guess today he might have been watching the snowfall whole night, watching the destruction caused the next morning.  Thus, he activated his thinking process to make students write a situational essay which he had not studied from any guide books. He processed content based on his observations.

Last year a group of students including GR Sufi (first chief information commissioner of J & K) desired to felicitate our beloved teacher Mohdammad Yousuf Bhat. They asked me to visit him, and to invite him. Our beloved teacher was residing at Jiladghar Mohalla, Jamia Masjid Nowhatta. I did, as asked for. I reached his residence, knocked the door, he opened the door and asked me to be in. I submitted that a group of old students who are now working in different walks of life at top notch positions including his most favorite student G R Sufi, desire to felicitate him at Government High School, Nowhatta or at any place of his choice. And share a cup of saffron kehwa with shirmal / katlam in old Kashmiri cups and seek his blessings. To cut a traditional ‘Rooth’ available in Shehri-khas instead a modern cake. He kissed my forehead and tears roll down from his eyes. He showed his unwillingness to attend the event. He was not fond of such events and accordingly he advised that all of us must proceed and attempt the event. However, we cancelled the programme.

Here us what G R Sufi says about this legendary teacher:

“I was his taught for 5 years i.e. from 6th class to 10th class. He prepared me for the real test in those days i.e., Board’s 10th class because by 1967 Board had allowed schools to conduct Middle class of their own and not under Board.

When we compare the present commercialization of coaching and teaching by the modern teachers late Yousuf sahib emerges as a saint turned teacher. With the passage of time I developed the feeling that he had streaks of a “darwaiesh”.

In his small room there was a group of students around him learning mathematics. Meanwhile electricity went off. There was pin drop silence. After about five minutes electricity was again on. Silence was broken. He raised his head. His eyes were red. He pointed out towards electricity bulb and asked will he go to Jannat or Jahanum? I said “who, sir?” One who invented electricity. He will go to his heaven. After some decades Ishfaq Ahmad, during a course of round table was asked, What about Ganga Ram who established a chain of hospitals in Delhi and Lahore to mitigate sufferings of people. Will he go to Jannat or Jahanum. He responded that Ganga Ram will go to his ‘Swarg’ for his good deeds to reduce the pain of mankind.”

Through a flashback, I now learn how intensely I admired Master Mohammed Yousuf, a frail but graceful teacher, who left an indelible mark of his devotion on the students he taught. Frankly speaking, I had almost forgotten him. I don’t know whether I ever remembered him at all in the past six decades, which witnessed completion of my studies, looking for a job and retiring too on superannuation a decade ago.

The demise of Yousf Sahib the other day came as a rude shock, taking me back to the era of the sixties. It was precisely 1966 and 1967 when he was tutoring us after the school hours. Known for his mastery in maths, algebra and geometry, it was a craze during those days to join his tuition institution. He was the gem of a teacher. He was a perfectionist who would focus on minutest details. I still remember how conscious he was about the academic environment.

Masterji took tuitions after school hours at his residence, a room which he had converted into a classroom with blackboard on the front wall. He would teach us maths with professional finesse in lieu of Rs 15 tuition fee per student. The class would go on for two hours. Each one of use would leave the makeshift class as mathematicians, a feeling which gives us a kick at this point of time as well. A mathematics teacher of 9th and 10 class at the government High School, Nowhatta, he would ensure our satisfaction with the tuitions. A real gentle-person and a dedicated teacher, Master Mohammed Yousuf will be remembered by all his students with gratitude and nostalgia. Whatever little we know about maths is his blessing and whatever we don’t know is our bad luck, as we retrospectively understand now. He was a builder of generations who performed their professional pursuits with confidence, courtesy the teachers like Yousuf Sahib.

Mohammed Yousf Sahib is remembered by his taught with love and pride. A caring gentleman only knew how to give and what to give. He gave his students a lot. He will always be remembered as an affectionate professional who nurtured us with care.

His students had deep love and affection for him because he developed, chiseled, nourished and nurtured their careers. They maintained life long good connect with this noble soul. All his students on attaining top positions here and there in the state went to him to seek his blessings before joining respective positions.

Our esteemed teacher was a great philosopher. By his wisdom and vision, he laid down strong foundations that his students were able to pursue advanced studies in medicine and surgery, advanced studies in academic research, competitive administrative service examinations, judiciary and governance and so on. May Allah shower his choicest blessings upon this departed soul.