I have seen her struggle alone with two toddlers and a teaching job. I have seen her sitting late at night to finish her teaching diary. I have seen her scold her children to go to bed faster than usual, so she could check the examination papers carefully. I have seen her prepare her lessons thoroughly when the syllabus changed all of a sudden. I have seen her packing her bags with one hand while pricking herself with the insulin needle with the other hand for years. I have always heard her prioritize ‘ente makkal’ (my children) over her biological children.
And when her students ran up to her or wrote to her from different cities, I used to envy her.
She did all of this with utmost dedication for three and a half decades. But now, she says that teaching is a thankless job. She retired as a TGT (Biology) teacher from a Delhi Government Aided School on the 30th of September, 2015. She still hasn’t started receiving her pension. When she approached the Directorate of Education for her health card, they told her it had to be applied immediately after retirement through the school authorities. The school authorities tell her that it can be done only once her pension papers are through. Based on two RTI applications submitted, she is informed that her pension papers have again been sent back to the school because her pay fixation of an earlier date has not been computed correctly.
She is someone who refuses to share her grief with anyone. I haven’t seen her smile for a long time now. I haven’t seen her enjoy her time with any of us for the last few months. My mom who used to call me 10-15 times a day has now stopped calling me at all because she doesn’t want to add to my already stressed life. The other day when I gave her a surprise visit, she broke down.
She says, “I didn’t even bother to check if you girls were having your breakfast properly and ran off to school for this job that does not even guarantee me my pension which is my right. I haven’t been able to sleep for days now because I feel betrayed.”
Do you know how difficult it is to see your ailing and aged parents cry helplessly in front of you? Do you know why she is suffering?
She is suffering because she and her husband have refused to pay a bribe to obtain her rightful pension. I am not sure whom to address this grievance to. The school, the management, the principal, the Directorate of Education, the Delhi government or the teachers who were ready to pay the bribe…I have no idea whom should I direct her to. Because at every door there are infinte bats hanging with hands openly begging for a bribe. Not Modi. No Kejriwal. No one matters to these shameless corrupt employees of the system. It’s a venomous cob web out there. Why should we vote? Whom should we vote for?
What if we lose her? What if something happens to her? What if she dies before getting her pension? Who’ll be at loss?
It pains to even type this but these are questions she asked me.
The country and the government benefits….right???
What about her family? Her children may still be able to cope because they have their own responsibilities. What about her husband? May be his children will take care of him. May be they’ll try their best to help him survive. But will he be happy without a partner to unconditionally share his words in his retired life? My parents have struggled all their lives for a bright future. If this is that bright future, I am sorry to say that no one should work towards a bright future.
If this is what a teacher has to go through, I would like to agree with Amma.