A while back, we had to do a writing assignment based on a prompt. While another one spoke to me a little more at that time, I decided to revisit a few that whispered. One in particular struck a chord – Teacher’s Pet.
Its not really about being her pet or anything, but more about something she said once, which has stayed with me ever since.
She taught us History and then English through classes 4 and 5. Once, after our finals I guess, she wrote the following for me:
Do what you think is right,
Do it to the best of your ability.
She spoke it out aloud as I took the book and read the two lines. She asked me if I understood what she meant and I remember repeating the lines and replacing the word “right” with “best”. She corrected me immediately. I remember asking her “aren’t we supposed to do what is best?” I had learnt by then that we were. It wasn’t safe to do what I thought was right. It hardly ever seemed to be the best option, it could hurt someone, be inconvenient and get me into loads of trouble…which seemed like such a lot of unwarranted effort, for quite a bit of unnecessary pain.
I don’t remember what I said to her, something to the effect of “shouldn’t it be “best””, or “are you sure its not best? Isn’t that better?”. She assured me that she had not made a mistake. She meant to write “right”, because “what’s best may and can keep changing, what is right won’t”.
I remember asking her “how’d I know what would be right?” She said “you’d know”. I was dubious, but thought I’d give it a shot once.
Its been 20 years and ma’am, I haven’t stopped giving it a shot since.