I don’t remember exactly when I first saw him. He was probably a student of our second batch back in 2011. Alauddin was not someone who would attract your attention. He had a small stature and was very thin. But what one would not skip noticing was his broad smile and the sparkle in his eyes when he smiled. He smiled quite often.
He was not a remarkable student in the first two semesters; at least his grades did not show any such sign. In the first two semesters he did not perform that well nor did he talk much in the classes that I took with them. However, it was a few semesters later he started doing well. He frequented my room quite often to show me his notes or to seek suggestions. His grades improved steadily and he became one of the toppers of his class.
What all of the faculty members started noticing was his enthusiasm and his ability to push himself to his limits. He started making his mark not just in academic activities but also in extracurricular activities, especially in the football ground. I don’t know what compelled him to face all the challenges of his student life with such indomitable spirit or who his constant source of motivation was. But he talked about his mother and how concerned she was about his studies. One day he came to my room.
“Ma’am, would you talk to my mother?”
“Yes, but why?”
“She thinks I am not giving enough efforts on my studies.”
His mother calls and I convince her that he is trying hard. She told me what dreams she had for her son’s future career.
“Please look after my son.”
“Of course I will” I assure her not realizing that we, as teachers, have our own limits and our roles do not go beyond the premises of our campus. And to prove how true this was what happened a few months later was sad, dreadful and to some extent unimaginable. Alauddin was not feeling well (I came to know about it later from his friends) but as adamant as he was, he still wanted to participate in the Inter-Departmental football tournament. He had too indomitable a spirit to get subdued by any physical ailment. But probably he had too strong a will in too fragile a body. He was hit in the ground and it was severe enough to snatch his life away in the very football ground.
Many years have lapsed since his death. Hundreds of students have left the department successfully completing their degrees but I still remember Alauddin, especially in isolated evenings or when I see someone who resembles his looks. I remember him just as I remember the near relatives who I lost in my life. Had he been alive, would I remember him so often? I guess not. We as teachers no doubt wish our students well and wish their happiness. But do we love our students? The answer is not definitive as the question involves multifaceted complexities. What is definitely true is that my subconscious mind has retained a sense of loss that I had with his untimely demise and I guess it will not let go of it as long as I am alive.
Head of the Department