Madam Krishna M Tiwari is the first teacher of my life.
It was in 1993 when I was enrolled at Tingtibi Primary School, a remote school located along the Gelephu-Trongsa highway in Zhemgang district. Madam Krishna, then, was a young lady, at the peak of her beauty, tall, slim, and fair, and just married to her husband.
I was nine years old then, too big, old to be admitted in class PP. Our family had just moved to Tingtibi after the upsurge of protests in southern Bhutan posed risks to us and our home in Gelephu was demolished. However, due to good fortune, my father got a caretaker’s job at an orange orchard in Tingtibi, and there we built a small hut and called it our ‘new home’.
That year, with the support from Madam Krishna, my elder sister and I got admission to the school, which has changed my life forever (for the better). Madam Krishna taught me English in class PP. She was a brilliant teacher, with a great passion for impacting her students with knowledge and values. She would look stern but was always taking care of her students.
More specifically, those days Madam Krishna gave me special attention and care. Maybe because I was an older student, or just maybe she discovered different qualities in me. Soon after, I was offered a double promotion by the school, which means I was promoted to class II directly.
Soon afterward poverty ensnared our family, as my father’s income was not enough to feed us. Unfortunately, my sister had to drop out of school to work on the farm and support the family. However, my parents continued to send me to school. During those trying times, Madam Krishna was very supportive of me and my family.
It was in 2013, after 19 years, that I met Madam Krishna in Thimphu. Thanks to a journalist friend of mine who brought us together. I was working as a program officer at the Department of Youth and Sports after graduating from Sherubtse College and Madam Krishna was teaching at Etho Metho Primary School. In the beginning, I didn’t recognize her and she didn't either. One evening, after work, we were walking to our homes, talking about our work, hometowns, families, and education.
“I studied at Tingtibi School,” I said after she told me that she had taught there.
“What’s your name?” she asked curiously.
“Riku Dhan Subba,” I replied.
“Goodness, you, idiot,” she cried and punched me in the ribs with great force.
That punch shook off my balance on walking. I felt that I deserved more than that, for not recognizing my teacher. I felt ashamed. After that, she took me to her home. And I was more surprised to discover that she lived in a building just 20 meters away from my apartment.
Today I am a proud citizen of Bhutan, contributing to my society with my best abilities and knowledge. But without a teacher like Madam Krishna, I would not be where I am now. So there is no other better way to show my gratitude and appreciation to the first teacher of my life—someone who had shown me the better direction of life—than to wish for her today.
A Happy Teachers’ Day, Madam Krishna. Thank you for being such a great teacher and thank you for everything!