Few months back I had the privilege of interacting with a group of NCS probationary officers and the brief interaction really filled my mind with lots of positive energy. The questions posed by them reflected their genuine concern for the society and strengthened my hope and belief that the young generation will lead the society towards bright future of the common men.
During my three decades of service in Nagaland, I have come across many young officers joining different services in Govt. sector with lots of enthusiasm to serve the society and later struggling to strike balance between their ideals and the surrounding realities. Many officers mange to practice their principles though they may not be successful in ensuring that their subordinates also follow honest ways while performing official duties. Unfortunately, in many occasions the surrounding influence is so strong that even officers with sincerity and dedication gets demoralized. I wish to share few of my own experiences in life for encouraging those sincere officers not to give up their ethics to the pressures exerted by de-motivating forces and also to reiterate that “The mills of the Gods grind slowly, but they grind small” even in the 21st century. I hope you will be kind to read my experiences with patience.
Few years back when I served as the principal of a school, I took my students for a study tour to Kolkata by Sleeper Class in Train. It was hot summer and the two young Post Graduate Teachers accompanying the group were unable to bear the hardships of travel by Sleeper Class. They requested me to upgrade the tickets for the teachers and mine to AC Class and they were even ready to pay the extra charges from their own pockets. I politely refused to accept their request and told them that they can upgrade their tickets but I cannot leave students in Sleeper Class and go to AC Class. They might have cursed me but got adapted and enjoyed the trip together.
After the trip, I proceeded to my hometown from Kolkata while my students and teachers returned to Nagaland. As usual I had booked my train ticket in AC III Tier class. But, I was excited to see that my ticket was automatically upgraded to AC First Class without any extra charge. Believe me; I have never travelled in AC First Class before that and after that too. Another excitation awaited me inside the train cabin. Normally one cabin in AC First Class is allotted for 4 persons. But I was all alone in that cabin from Kolkata to Chennai as the co-passengers failed to turn up. I still remember the fun of my royal style travel. One may say it was an incident of mere coincidence. But for me, it was a gift given by God for being with my humble students during their happiness and hardships.
Allow me to share another incident. Once during the conduct of HSLC examination, one poor parent from a remote village brought her daughter with bandages wrapped in both fractured hands and requested me to allow her to write exam in a separate place. I got her examined by the medical attendants and obtained Medical Certificate from the CHC Medical Officer on behalf of the parent and allowed her to sit in Medical Room and write the exam under the supervision of an invigilator. I also sent the report to NBSE and the girl did pass the examination.
After two weeks of the conduct of the examination, my wife called me from hometown and informed that my son who was about to appear HSLC Exam after one week got his knee dislocated while playing football. Though he was given plastering at knee, he had pain and inconvenience for sitting in same position continuously. By learning about the incidence, one of his teachers advised us to approach his school principal with medical certificate and request for allotting a spacious bench. The principal not only allotted a convenient seat but also granted an additional grace time of 15 minutes by taking up the matter with the concerned Board. Do you think that this too is a mere coincidence?
There are many such incidents in my life which taught me that whatever we do, whether good or bad come back to us with interest. There will be no missing credit or error in God’s account book. I should also share one incident which gave me a good punishment for one of my mistake. When I was at my late 20s, one day I had a difference of opinion with my father. Instead of expressing it politely, I shouted at my father. He was shocked and speechless as it was my first misbehaviour with my father.
Shortly after that I went to watch a movie to a cinema hall with one of my friend. An employee of the theatre in an inebriated state uttered something arrogantly to us and I asked him why he was shouting at customers unnecessarily. Within a moment he kicked at me and I was protected from further attack by other employees. A flash light sparked in my mind….My father was unable to react for my arrogance because I was grown up. But God doesn’t like to let me continue with my mistakes and corrected me immediately with one fine kick through an alcoholic. I never repeated my arrogance again and only count the blessings of God now.
I always feel that God gives opportunities for everyone to correct themselves. When we fail to listen to his messages, the price we need to pay at a later stage becomes higher. Good or bad whatever we do come back to us multiplied and magnified. Let us do our duty sincerely to the best of our ability without worrying about the de-motivating forces surrounding us. Service to mankind is service to God.
Directorate of School Education, Kohima.