Let’s not even pretend I liked you the first time we interacted in the classroom. I had heard many a great thing about you, which led to high hopes for your class.
I didn’t like you. I thought you were snobby, mean, and way too smart for your own good. Later, I’d realize there’s no such thing as way too smart, especially for the given combination. I began to recognize you as the only smart adult in my life, an adult who saw me for who I was when I didn’t even know it myself.
You saw potential in me when every other grown-up thought I was the washed up disappointment, who had mediocre achievements and would never go on to be someone or something. To this day, you encourage me to pursue my ambition, even if it puts me above both Lady Macbeth and the devil on the list. You are the person who lifted me up regardless of me failing my exams, screwing up in oral or written quizzes. The one adult who saw me flunk both physics and chemistry, and said, “Beta, these two don’t matter. You have better things in store.”
When I had to withdraw from the university for a semester, the first person I thought of telling was you. Wanna know why? It’s because you are kind, compassionate, understanding, empathetic, and always see the best in people. You haven’t been dealt the best of hands, and the odds have very much not been in your favor. Life and people have screwed you over countless times, and it hurts to see a person as good as you suffer through so much, but the fact that you’ve come out of it as a better human being never ceases to amaze me.
You are awe-inspiring in both your academic and worldly knowledge. When I say you’re the smartest person I’ve ever met, it isn’t meant to make you feel like you’re in a competition with other intelligent people I’ve met (I’m sorry Mortdecai, you know you’re the best), it’s supposed to let you know that your head is not only screwed on the right way, it is also not filled with horseshit, just putting it out there, in case you didn’t already know. The things, you’ve taught me, go beyond the basics of psychology; they are what no one else bothered to put in my head. I cannot express enough gratitude towards you; for all that you’ve done, not just for me but for all of us.
As a teacher, I can’t say there has been a better one, and I don’t think I ever will be able to. I’m fine with that, I really am, but I wish there were. I hope that the world sees more teachers – more people, period – like you, sir. You are an astounding, and rare specimen of the male species, and perhaps the only one who has made me and my friends feel completely and utterly safe, and at ease. We’ve shared our entire life stories with you, without any hesitation, and you’ve unflinchingly accepted our truths. That is a feat not many can accomplish, and one you’re incredibly skilled at. We’ve been brutally honest with you, when at times honesty may not have been too good for your inner peace, Po, but you’ve taken it and handled us with care.
We were a broken set of students sir, and you helped us in every way you could. The rare times I pray, you’re one of the first for whom I pray for because you deserve it all. You are worthy of all the love, recognition, care, and happiness in the world. Most of all, I hope that you find not only your happy ending but contentment within and with yourself.
I don’t know how many students can say that they’ve hit up a teacher smack dab in the middle of the night, and cried to them about their life taking a turn for the worse. All I know is that you’ve been there each time I’ve done something stupid, dusted my metaphorical blazer off, and helped me pull myself together. Once again, I cannot emphasize what a wonderful person you are. Thank you for offering a safe place for us all.
You’re not just a teacher, sir. You are our family. The Kung Fu Panda who protected the rest of the clan at all costs. Thank you for being there, for being yourself. I hope the world only has the best in store for you.
Have an excellent birthday!