Members of the college council became my sworn enemies. They opposed every decision I took. It become very difficult for me to work under such hostile conditions. I resigned. I had no complaints against the minister. But I had hoped he would weigh the matter on the scales of justice; he however gave policy precedence over justice. The result was that my resignation was immediately accepted despite my many years of devoted service.
That was the most bitter experience I had in life till then. I was going through a very bad phase; my wife passed away during this period. She had been unwell for some time. I had gone out for a stroll by the banks of the river in the evening, and when I returned I found her dead. She had suffered a heart failure. My wife's death shattered me; she had been an unlimited source of encouragement for me; she had been an optimist through and through - I don't remember ever seeing her brow wrinkle in a frown. I had been seriously ill on a few occasions; even the doctors were not sure whether I would live. But my wife nursed me back to life. She was certain that it is she who would die before her husband, and her certitude came true.
I was disheartened, and decided to spend the rest of my life in a small village. The village nestled amid hills, and the Ganga flowed on one side. I built myself a small house on the banks of the river.But human nature is such that he cannot live in idleness. I started teaching children from the village, and my classes were held under a tree. My school became so popular that children from other nearby villages also started attending it.
One day while I was teaching the children a car came to a halt, and the district deputy commissioner alighted from it. I was attired in a "kurta" and "dhoti" and I was feeling very embarrassed to meet such a high official in my shabby clothes. When the deputy commissioner came nearer I held out my hand hesitatingly. However, instead of shaking hands, he dropped on his knees and touched my feet to invoke my blessings.
I was so surprised by this strange behavior that words failed me. I am proficient in English, I am also an expert in philosophy, and, then, I can deliver good lectures. But these qualities do not entitle me to be venerated. It is only the wise and the sages who have any right to be venerated.
I was still pondering over this peculiar behavior when the deputy commissioner lifted his head and looking at me said, "Perhaps you have not recognized me."
Those few words brought back a flood of memories. "Is your name Suryaprakash?" I asked him.
"Yes, I am that same disciple of yours."
"It has been twelve, maybe, thirteen years."
"The teachers may forget their students, but the students always remember their teachers," Suryaprakash said with a smile.
"It is very difficult to forget students like you," I said in a lighter vein.