Soon after my marriage at age 25, I enrolled into Max Muller Bhavan to learn German language. When I was almost 28 I was in one of the advanced courses. It was a small group of six students and our professor was a man nearing retirement. He had silver beard.
Our class was held in one of the larger rooms and we all sat around two square tables. The room had large windows and one could see the old gigantic mango trees out in the garden.
We were reading two novels. Both had strong women oriented stories. The heroines were radical and followed their hearts a midst great turmoil. One was “Brigitta” and the other, “Der Eulen Ruf”…
Both were romantic novels which highlighted the evolved spirits of two incredible women, Brigitta and Lena respectively. One a discarded wife because she looked like a man and the other an unwed rural mother. And how both find their own calling and love in a world which was largely for men!
What I liked about the class most was the intimate way in which we studied or read the novels. ‘Der Professor’ read and we listened. I particularly was mesmerized by the way he read (the eternal romantic that I am). He smoked in the class, wore Fab India shirts and trousers and all that I loved about him. I felt every word that he read was directed towards me.
We were also given essay assignments to write. And once I wrote a humorous piece using German prepositions and he liked it so much that he read it out in the class. I was proud of myself that day.
He often spoke to us about other German authors and literature. His wife was American and a painter. He would often invite us to her shows.
He trained us well and always had a twinkle in his eyes while addressing a few of us. When I was admitted in the hospital for my cancer surgery, he called me there to find out if I was doing well.
Two years later when I met him again, he held both my hands, leaned against a door and looked into my eyes and asked me how was my health and what was I doing in life. I too clasped his hands and told him I was a German teacher myself. That evening I realized the feeling of affection and respect was mutual. My heart was warm with love.
He soon retired and left for Germany and I was away from the city so could not attend his farewell party. I came back and found an invite to his farewell in my mail box. I could not say goodbye.