An ode to teachers day

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Year 1979/80 or thereabouts. The Indian Prime Minister's office, with its new incumbent, received a request from a Pakistani man by the name Mohammad Abdus Salam to do some detective work for him. Mrs. Gandhi, the well-informed stateswoman that she was knew that Salam was a theoretical physicist from across the border who had just won the Nobel Prize for Physics a few days ago – as of then and even now, the only Pakistani to have ever won a Nobel. She felt compelled to use her good offices to help him on his request.

The Nobel prize, meanwhile, was the rightful culmination of a series of astounding achievements that set Salam far, far apart from anyone in his field or his generation in Pakistan. Born in an Ahmadiyya Muslim family (a largely persecuted Muslim community in Pakistan)...
in a small village by the name Jhang in the Punjab province of British India (in present-day Pakistan), Salam was quite a prodigy from an early age. After having scored the highest marks in his Matriculation exams ever recorded during his times, he went on a college scholarship.. Lahore, where, apparently at the age of 16, he saw an electric lightbulb for the first time in his life. While in Lahore, forces within and outside of Salam kindled in him a sense of devotion towards Mathematics, resulting in his faithful, lifelong affair with the subject..

Soon thereafter he wrote a paper by the name "A Problem of Ramanujam" where he published his work on Srinivasa Ramanujam's problems in Mathematics. Then came, amongst other things, a scholarship at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he secured a double-first class honours... Mathematics and Physics followed by a PhD in Physics from the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge.

Teaching stints at colleges in Pakistan, a chair at the Imperial College in London, a fellowship at Princeton, massive and decisive contributions to Pakistan's..., Atomic Energy & Nuclear Programmes, and a multitude of scientific endeavours resulting in a slew of decorations that couldn't possibly be listed here for want of a human's average attention span – all of this made up the beads in the eclectic necklace that was Salam's life, the Nobel being the most resplendent of them all.

The request that Salam had made to the Indian government was to help him find a certain Anilendra Ganguli, who had taught him Mathematics back at the Sanatan Dharma College in pre-independence Lahore. Eventually it was discovered that Ganguli, by then a feeble, ailing octogenarian, had retired to a quiet life in a silent neighbourhood in South Calcutta. Salam, a good 2 years after his first pursuits, finally made it to Calcutta in 1981, his most prized possession firmly ensconced in the breast pocket of his suit, to Mr. Ganguli's house and found the old man lying incapacitated on his bed with little energy to even greet his former student from 40 years ago.

Removing the Nobel Prize medal from his pocket, Salam said, _"this is your prize, Sir. Not mine,_" and hugged his recumbent teacher from college.

Teachers are amongst the most precious things in life unbounded by trivialitoes such as religions and nations.

If the world runs and seeks to improve, it's because every moment a teacher is teaching somewhere.

Happy Teacher's Day!

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