By: Syed Mustafa Ahmad

Teacher, whether government or private, is the builder of a nation. But in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in Kashmir, this fact has been lost into oblivion. Private teachers’ lives are miserable more than before. They find it quite difficult to live from hand to mouth. Having no other sources of income, they are leftto the mercy of different hands. I have many examples of private teachers who are trying to brave against all the odds but still find it difficult to carry on with the daily lives. In the coming lines, I will discuss some of the private teachers in concise manner.

      First is Mr Bilal. He is an in biology with B.ed. He is over 37 years old. He is working in a local private school. Before two years, he married in a well to do family. His story is so miserable to tell. His family members at home are government employees but he is the only, apart from his elder brother, who is working as a private teacher. His father is retired government employee. He gave his all sons good knowledge and tried his best to settle his sons without Bilal. He was treated very harshly after he completed his masters. Seeing the miserable condition, he didn’t want to be a burden on his family. He sought the local private schools. He worked in many private schools for a meagre salary of 4,000 rupees. In 2018, he joined the prestigious private school in the locality. He is given 8,000 rupees per month. For a single, this amount is good to carry on. In the same year, when he joined the above said school, he married in the neighbouring village. It means that his responsibilities increased more and more. For 9 months, he was happy that he had a wife to live with and share his happiness and sadness but when the time of pregnancy came, he became worried. He had to seek help of others in bringing medicines and other things. When the coming of another person, miseries mounted. As he is living in his father’s home separately, he is generally unwelcomed. His father believes that his two sons are useless because they are private teachers. In this way, he didn’t welcome the coming of other person in the world. His wife is unsatisfied with her husband but luck and the world are not going in their way. Living in this fashion up to August, 2019, the heavens fell loose on him. He was rendered jobless. No schools mean no money. However, they are paid some pennies but that are never enough to carry on. He has been since February from fighting with the circumstances to carry the vehicle of life forward. Some days before, I saw him and was seeking Accountancy book for the Panchayat Assistant exam. I couldn’t believe that he is Bilal sir who is an ocean of biology knowledge.His hairs is gone. He has become lean. Eyes had gone deep into sockets. Clothes are simple. Slippers were torn. He was standing alone in a lane. I greeted him. And after few moments, I asked him about his present condition. He sighed and hiding his tears, he told me that I could not do anything in my life. I had no money to look for. Monthly pay doesn’t help my cause. I am not bothered about myself but my wife and child are to be sustained. I can manage but it is becoming too difficult to carry in this situation. As he was talking to me, I could see him adjusting his mask. I also began to look out for my mask for the novel Corona virus has hit the world very badly. Suddenly, he began to curse himself and with angry relish on his face, began to speak in a hoarse voice that the private teaching system is futile till you are fair in your dealings but whenyou step out of moral zone, then all the doors of happiness open. His life is more miserable with the introduction of the Covid-19. He told  my friend that he would do something else if the present situation doesn’t change. He needs 15,000 rupees per month to keep his family going. Eight thousand rupees cannot do miracles. Moreover, he is being pressurized to construct his own home. He is in dilemma what to do now. He knows this fact very much that getting a government job in the present time, is a difficult probability. For thousand posts, lakhs of forms are submitted. And the last nail in the coffin is that corruption is waiting all of us open mouth.

       Second is living in Srinagar. His name is Javid. He is an M.A. with B.ed. He is 30 years old. His childhood was full of misery so is the present. He is the only person in his family of 6 who has been taken higher secondary. All other are up to the secondary level or up to the primary level. He has a strong desire to learn. He learns everyday but today he is not learning at all. It is because he was terminated by the local school in the pandemic. He can not believe that the government orders are flouted in a broad daylight. Moreover, he is engaged in the nearby village. His first engagement was short-lived. Many misunderstandings crept in that which forced him to break the engagement. As he was trying to come to terms, suddenly, the pandemic came and engulfed the whole world. A majority of jobs were lost. The informal sector was most hit. He was paid 8,000 rupees per month that was enough for him to carry on for a time being. He was planning to open a coaching centre so that he could get more money. But all his dreams were shattered when he was terminated bon baseless grounds. He tried to prove his innocence but the authorities were adamant on their decision. They terminated him on the basis that they would provide him monetary air up to December, 2020. After that, he should find another job for himself. Today, he is thinking that how I can carry life forward when parents, his fiance and himself are waiting for him to help them. He conveyed this depressing message to his fiance who consoled him by promising that she would help her by transferring her monthly salary in his account, for she also is a private teacher. He has not told his family members that I have been terminated. He thinks that my father will certainly die if he listens to this bad news. His father is a heart patient. His one sister is still unmarried. She is above 28. In this situation, my friend has one support that is God. He has no other source of income, though his two brothers work as labourers.

      In short, there should be some respite for private teachers. They need more than what they get. It is up to us to help them. Let us at our individual level help them.

Note: Names have been deliberately changed to hide identity.

Author can be reached at [email protected]

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