Every now and then I feel that I had chosen the wrong profession. Why hadn’t I chosen to be a journalist, an RJ, a novelist, a translator-- why did I become a teacher? I remember my post graduate years when there were discussions about our career options and I used to vehemently declare I’d never become a teacher even if I had to starve to death… The reason was that as a student I was notoriously obnoxious and decided that I’d do anything but deal with students like ‘me’. Well, Fate has this funny way of laughing at you and there I was, well into my 13th year of teaching. Why did I opt to be a teacher? I suppose I should admit one thing- I became a teacher because I had opted to be one. Well, I was not in it for money… God knows I, like all my colleagues all over the world, was underpaid for the mammoth task I had undertaken. Glamour? Covered with chalk dust and lugging piles of books, trying not to degenerate into hysterics…? Hah! Fat chance! The joy of spreading knowledge?Who am I kidding? I know that for every achiever feathering my teaching cap, there were dozens who gave me nightmares…or sleepless nights! Then why was I a teacher? I guess I know why, inside my heart, when… …I saw light dawning on a few faces at last when I got through to them. …I shared light-hearted moments with my students while I let them relax and ‘interact’ in class. …While travelling by train suddenly a young man or a pretty lady came near me and asked me, “Are you a teacher?” “Did you teach in…?”And then… “Ma’am…I was your student! Are you still a teacher?” Then follows a wonderful session of recalling the highlights of their academic years, remembering all my students…and colleagues… The most unforgettable reward of teaching came my way when, while waiting to cross a road in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comffice:smarttags" /><st1:City><st1lace>Bangalore</st1lace></st1:City>, I had met two of my students who had graduated as engineers, and when one of them said, “ Ma’am… I still remember all the details of the ancient civilizations you taught me in Grade 8 - <st1lace><st1laceName>Indus</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Valley</st1laceType></st1lace>, Egyptian, Babylonian, Inca and the Aztec.” I smiled blinking away the tears that threatened to fall… What kids! All I had done was let them read through my collection of National Geographic with articles on these topics as an incentive to getting them interested in those topics… I recalled their enthusiasm on those occasions. Many of them were seeing such a magazine for the first time in their lives. Another thing my ex-students want to know is “Are your present set of students as good as we were? Do you like them more than you liked us?”“Never!” I tell them, knowing that God would pardon me these little fibs, for the joy and pride I see on their face then is the true bonus I earn in my career… Last summer vacation, when I was in Bhadravathi, three boys of my 1995 batch dropped in. They had heard that I was in town and wanted to see me… I was transported back to those days when I taught them in my class… the boys have all done well for themselves… and they told me how all the others in their batch were doing… where they were and who all had got married… they rang up some of their friends then and there, telling them that they were with me… Many of them called back, as their network obviously is strong…and that feeling of being loved and respected once more overwhelmed me… All these things make me feel that it was quite worth it!