Pradeep Pattanayak

The way a recently-retired teacher was given farewell has, perhaps, never ever been seen or heard in Odisha's Kalahandi district. 

In honour of the teacher who served the society for 40 long years, thousands of people with traditional drum (Ghumura) and outfits came out of their houses voluntarily and took out a huge rally that passed through the lanes and by-lanes of Golamunda block in Kalahandi district.  

The rally was in no way inferior to any political victory rally. 

The teacher in question was Abhiram Sahu. 

For Sahu, teaching had been his lone purpose in life. His inclination towards imparting education was first revealed when he established an M E School in his own village, Dhamanpur. And, from thereon, his teaching career found a humble beginning. Then he went on to set up another school on his own land, and this was a high school. Acting as a secretary of the school, he went the extra mile to nurture the school, which he would regard as second only to his children. 

Now, both the schools he founded have been accorded government school status. 

“I had been imparting education to students religiously for 40 years. During this span of my career, I met people who showered their love and affection for me. This will remain as a source of inspiration to me for the remaining years of my life which, I have decided, will be dedicated to teaching,” stated Sahu. 

In the last leg of his teaching career, Sahu had joined Khaliapali Primary School in the tribal-dominated Golamunda block as its headmaster seven years ago. And it was his love for the noble profession of teaching that endeared him to students, parents as well as villagers. 

Besides bringing out a sea change in the development of the school and going out of his way to shape children’s careers, Sahu also inveigled into the villagers’ hearts by being one of them, taking part in their happiness and sorrow, in equal measure. 

The villagers’ love for him was evident only when the news of his retirement spread. The whole village turned out to host a farewell party. The farewell meeting was held on the school premises. Going to make it memorable for them as well as Sahu, they organized a huge rally. As the rally with Sahu in the middle went around the village, parents, students and even teachers welcomed Sahu by garlanding him, washing his feet and putting sandalwood paste on his forehead.  

The entire event bordered on any village fair. 

“We have never seen any deviation in discharging his duty. It had been his wish to see his school, teachers earn a name and fame,” said Kamala Majhi, a teacher. 

The students said they would not get a teacher like him. “It is his way of teaching that separates him from others,” said Duhlani Chalan, a student, in a choking voice. 

Heaping praise on Sahu, Dambarudhar Majhi, a Khaliapali resident said, “During the seven years, his contribution towards the school’s development is inexplicable.”