Militancy in the classroom


Teaching English is fun especially in a CBSE school.  Even my principal thinks that English is a “light” subject, just fun.  All subjects should be fun to learn, according to me.  CBSE has made the English syllabus too ‘light’ to make it funny, especially at the plus two level. So it’s a child’s play for the teacher in the classroom.  In spite of such a playful atmosphere (or because of it, perhaps) in the classroom, some students get bored and indulge in personal enterprises in the classroom like drawing cartoons, scribbling whatever comes to their mind, or practising their signature. 

“∑militants = my lyf” was one such scribbling I came across the other day on the notebook of a student who appeared distracted. 

“The sum of all militants is equal to my life,” I read it aloud paraphrasing the mathematical equation into normal language.  Then I liked the way it sounded.  I repeated what I said.  I could easily sense that the whole class had become interested in the line. 

The student who wrote it is from Manipur.  He had returned to school a few days back after the Diwali break.  He had witnessed the turbulent situation in his state.  A situation that had inflated the price of a gas cylinder to Rs1000 or more.  Life is quite tough in the hill state.  Militants make it tougher.  It’s no wonder that my student’s life became tantamount to the sum of all militants. 

“You are a poet,” I said to the student.  “Only a poet can write such a line.”  Of course, I chose to ignore the mathematical symbols in what he had written.  Rather, I translated them into normal English.  “So you have to complete this poem.  Give me the completed poem tomorrow.”

The poem did not come the next day. 

“When will I get it?” I asked.

“Friday, Sir,” he said.

He was true to his word.  Yesterday he gave me his poem.

Here is a part of it:


The sum of all militants is equal to my life.

Calm, quiet and no sound of love;

Hear the sound of destruction

And the scream of a mother,

For she lost her family and

I couldn’t even help them

And I remain insane. 

… …

I just couldn’t fight

And I remain insane.

I wonder why our society fills the life of its youth and children with insanity.





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15 Responses to Militancy in the classroom

  1. Much is being written and discussed about political logjams, economic stability and policy making alike. What we forget about are the policy-livers; the human aspect of policy making. In this part of the world we forget that people are not numbers after all.

  2. Sure, he is a poet but I feel rather sad for the source of his creativity. Fourth line onwards you feel pain. I always wonder, why can’t there be total peace.

  3. Raghuram Ekambaram says:


    You just made your English class no fun at all, after claiming it is unadulterated fun in the first sentence, thanks to the student from Manipur!


    • matheikal says:

      This is the real fun in learning a language, isn’t it Raghuram? The fun of creativity; the thrill of converting one’s feelings into a poem / story / painting…

  4. Jose D.Maliekal says:

    Dear Tomichan,

    Let there be many more poets… let the poets bloom and poetry blossom. Sure, you are a catalyst in the process.


  5. Raghuram Ekambaram says:


    I am not tooting my own horn – but, poetry will come a distant second to fun in structural engineering, the way I teach :))))


  6. dawnanddew says:

    A touching poem with an interwoven pang of destruction and hard life. Thanks to the teacher who has brought it to the readers with an understanding attitude.

  7. dawnanddew says:

    According to me, poetry is integrity. The society does not allow us to confess honestly about manythings. Poeetry is a safe haven where integrity is celebrated. Poetry is also a shoulder to lean upon, a friend to pour out our heart. Thanks to modern critics who try to call it Intentional fallacy if a poem is looked at from the perspective of the writer’s heart. They have really given poets and writers all freedom to open their wings of heart and soar high cutting across and through the heaven criss cross. I love thee poetry on whose lap my heart can melt through a drop of tear and condense into what you are!

  8. Vishal says:

    If his situation was not troublesome, I would have been amazed at how a young mind can comprehend so much and frame it so well. I cannot comment on the plight of North – East as nothing I say is gonna be of any use. But I hope this boy’s creativity does not get stifled and he goes on to achieve a lot more, making you proud…

    • matheikal says:

      I share your hope, Vishal. The education system does not necessarily stifle anyone’s creativity. That’s just a cliched understanding of some people. There are far too many schools today that encourage students to unfold their creativity in innumerable ways. Unfortunately – as I’ve noticed – students don’t bother! They have to be coaxed into working on their own potential!

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