A teacher through and through

October 5, 2014

I think I should go find him and have the pleasant experience of conversing with Professor Zameer Naqvi once again

A teacher through and through

A confession to make first. Whenever I wrote an essay in my primary or secondary school examination on "My favourite teacher" it was a boring exercise, a laborious job reflecting my rote-learning.

While the female teachers in my primary school shouted on us at times (read often), my encounter with male teachers at a government school was simply shocking. Thus, no ‘favourite’ teacher at that time! But that had to change later.

Perhaps that is why it was not until I was pursuing my master’s degree in English literature that I came across a professor who was able to change my earlier impression of a typical teacher -- strict and humourless.

Honestly, it is not because I share his last name, Prof. Zameer Naqvi who taught us American Literature in our fifth year did a wonderfully good job. He was one of the few professors around at the institution who seemed to know how to put their point across.

He would speak English in a proper accent and accurate pronunciation. One could take Naqvi to be a middle-aged American or someone who had spent quite some time in the US. That was the first impression one formed after listening to him and the way he would gesture while talking.

In those days, many of us would know the US only through Hollywood movies and the kind of image it projected of the US people and society. Naqvi showed us the real and contemporary face of the country through literature, connecting it to the everyday life of an American common man. And that he would do through weaving in US politics, society, and economy. It was like taking a virtual tour of a place.

Not ever before had I seen such command over a subject and such knowledge and information to put literature of a particular time in a proper context. The words and lines in a drama or a novel were not faceless any more. It was so easy to visualise characters and situations in "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller he taught us as our course.

He made sure it was an interactive class, engaging students in discussions and giving them the chance to speak their mind. He was able to see what level of proficiency each student of class had in language and literature and would try to communicate with him accordingly.

Another thing that came naturally to him was reading -- books and newspapers. I remember when our class had gone on a picnic outside Lahore, we found him engrossed in reading a newspaper while we played cricket.

I think I should go find him and have the pleasant experience of conversing with Professor Zameer Naqvi once again.

A teacher through and through