The fifth of September is celebrated as Teachers’ Day in India. It’s been that way long before the market made it fashionable to assign specific dates to specific social relationships, and has proved oddly resistant to the consumerist turns most special ‘days’ have taken. (It is, of course, ripe for the more old-fashioned forms of corruption in our society — extortion in the name of ‘gifts’, for one.)
The date is the birthday of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, philosopher and scholar of comparative religion. He was also independent India’s second president. The story goes that when his students asked his permission to celebrate his birthday as a public event after his ascension to public office, he said that he would prefer it if they instead used the day to recognise and honour all their teachers.
When the president of the nation expresses a wish, the nation jumps to it.
Conversation this Teachers’ Day morning at chez moi, however, was slightly less than noble. It went thus:
Me to the mater: Happy teachers’ day, Mumma!
The mater to me: Happy teachers’ day, my darling.
The left-out parental unit: Since when’s *she* a teacher?
Me, belligerently: And WHO was earning a living teaching undergrads in a distant, cold, foreign land ALL BY HERSELF, eh? Eh?
The P (muttering): Probably teaching them to swing from trees, swishing tails, getting up people’s noses…
Me (immediately changing tune to syrupy sweetness): HAPPY teachers’ day, Papa! You’re a LOVELY teacher. I’m sure your stoodents WUVV you! [ambush-hug and big kiss]
The P: [completely blindsided by this sudden change of heart] er, what? What?
Round 5th September to me.