After 6 years, i was supposed to be in MS, but due to some funny reason, i was not, in fact, i was neither in MS, nor out of it, so I was made the TA in Programming and Data Structure (PDS) course. I had a small group of students to deal with, their lab tests, answer scripts and all the routine things.
She was a silent girl in the class, so i did not pay much attention to what she had to say about C. The girl never complained anything about the marks, nor about the assignment, as I used to be in my first year- aloof.
Time: 1500 Hrs
The end sems were nearing and in the regular lab, i was resolving someone's doubt, when i saw she raised her hand to ask some question. I saw the professor go to her..... The professor should know about how his subjects are doing.
Time: 1530 Hrs
The prof is still explaining things to her, and she is nodding her head, as if it were connected to her body by spring. I am attending this guy who is having trouble understanding the question
Time: 1600 Hrs:
I'm solving this girl's problem who is debating with me about something which she felt was correct. The professor is now himself coding, and the girl seems to be taking an active interest (the way she was looking at the monitor, trying to read the broken english of C, with all the unexpected brackets and semi- colon, which make it a bestial language, was too good).
Time: 1630 Hrs:
I was done solving the doubts, and was hearing to stories of a TA, when this prof came from behind the pillar. "Nimesh!", he called me. "She doesn't know anything about C!", said the prof in a very worried tone, as if it was he who had to give the exam! The prof was a very good man, worried about the well being of this soul... I replied "Yes Sir! why, i'd talk to her right now." I went to her. "You!" I pointed my finger to her, standing in front of her desk, looking sharply into her eyes, "You will meet me after class." She looked at me, with a fright -mixed-with-laid back- look, said "Yes sir!". After the class,i said to her "I'm noticing that your performance is consistently poor, and unless you put in some hard labor, you'd be in a soup. What do you have to say about it? Koi load to nahin hai? (translates to: any problems with this subject?)" She said in the same tone "No Sir!". "So you'd be coming to my lab to study till your end sems, is it all right?" I asked in an authoritative tone, and she could not refuse.
The week coming was going to be nothing short of a challenge to me, confronting C, the hidden fear. This girl turned up the next day, with one of her classmates, as she too was having a lot of problems in the same. So i started with them, a baby step at a time- C made easy by a dummy.
The week was nothing short of a test for me- a lots of stories about C, a solid punch for making silly errors, rewarding for a good thinking and finally, understanding the mind of a student, which i were a few months back. I realised teaching was not just about delivering the knowledge, it was also about making the whole subject interesting and leaving good impression on young minds, so rather than developing an aversion to the subject for the rest of their lives, they enjoy the experience. I was trying my level best to cock up new stories about C to explain the fundamentals in a simple, friendly and a dignified way. Time passed, and with the end of a week, both of them caught up to the essence of C. By the end of second week, i could teach them advanced topics in data structures.
Shilpa, though could not turn up for the last 2 days, which i learnt was because she had to mug up mechanics the last night before the Mech end sem! However, since the basic of C was already covered, and advanced topics could be derived from there, so i didn't have to worry about her. The other girl Shalu continued till the end sems.
In the end sems, i saw the grade sheets, Shalu had secured an A while Shilpa had secured a D, still better than me, who secured a mere P (a just passed grade), saving my tail with it.
It is how i encountered my fear for C, and returned the gift Raka once gave me, and my prof PK enriched with his inputs. I believe, we must return twice of whatever good we got to the needy, this is the best way to repay it, and i guess i did it.