By M.K. Dhar
I first saw Mr Jagan Nath Patwari when he was in thirties. A young, charming, active and graceful personality. He was the person who conducted me to my class in the school, National School, Karan Nagar, Srinagar. It was somewhere in 1949 when I was admitted to class 7 section B. Principal, Sh S.L. Raina (Langar) asked Mr Patwari to carry me to the class. My father accompanied me. It was my first exposure to the regular school environment. Mr Patwari introduced me and my father to the teacher, who was teaching Hindi. They made me sit in the first row of the class. The classroom was provided with jute mat and a desk type ‘chowki’. The smile, with which Mr Patwari made me sit in the class is still fresh on the screen of my memory. He patted me and gave me an affectionate hug. I felt secure and assured of a frily environment in the school. Thereafter, I would see Mr Patwari everyday. I forced his presence in all the activities of the school – be it academic, curricular, cocurricular or extracurricular.
He was an excellent teacher of History and Geography, now known as Social studies. He was quite innovative in his methodology. Map work and model making was one of the chief tools through which he used to explain various topics in the subject. His blackboard writing was quite attractive. He would make lessons quite interesting We would enjoy his teaching of the subject.
I passed out in 1953 from the school and joined Gandhi Memorial College for F.Sc. and Amar Singh College for B.Sc. and the other Teacher’s college (now college of Education) for B.Ed. So from April 1953 till September 1962 I remained away from National School. But even during this period I got several occasions to see and interact with him. It was always enjoyable to see him and interact with him. As a teacher he had left an indelible impression on us. No doubt, he believed in strict discipline yet his approach to students was always fatherly and frily.
There was a warmth in his dealings with everyone. It was because of this warmth that students did not fear him but loved him and found an affectionate fri and guide in him. He did not only give knowledge and information to his students but also helped them in their emotional and moral development. He had deep sense of understanding of students’ psyche, flexibility in approach and a positive sense of humour. There are hundreds of students who must have been inspired by him during his life time as a teacher.
My second rapport with him started from 1962, when I joined National School as a staff member. I was then 22+ years of age and I was to work with all those who had been my teachers. It was quite difficult to deal with them as my colleagues. However, it was Mr Patwari, alongwith a few other youthful teachers, who were then in forties, who made stay in the school comfortable. Their warmth and encouragement made my day to day working as teacher quite easy and interesting. Mr Patwari was in the forefront to l full support and guidance to me in shaping me into a teacher. I found him to be respectful to his elder colleagues, frily to his same age colleagues and fatherly, full of affection to young colleagues. It was his this attitude that had earned him an unparalleled respect among his peers. He had a straight forward attitude. Instead of pinpointing the drawbacks in his co-workers, he would highlight their good points and help them in removing their difficulties. He believed in encouraging others and helping them in their deficiencies. Naturally, his colleagues had developed lot of faith and confidence in him. He was gifted with power of inspiring others. He treated all his colleagues as members of his exted family. These qualities of head and heart and his dedication to hardwork, his sincerity towards his work, his honesty and integrity earned him lot of respect.
He was a well known teacher in the student community and their parents. I had seen parents coming with various problems to him and he would satisfy one and all. Every one would leave his room with a smiling face.
It was not only academic field where he contributed his maximum but all other fields – co-curricular and extracurricular activities, found his impact. He was an excellent teacher, a pragmatic housemaster, an efficient leader as headmaster, a meticulous treasurer of the Managing Committee, and above all soul of National School.
Even after his retirement he was always there to help and guide us. He would participate in all the important decisions and functions of school. He always felt the prosperity and progress of the school as his personal triumph.
When I last met him, some two years back, I found him mentally quite agile and active though physically he had grown weak. In his correspondence with me he would always talk about how we could contribute to the betterment of the school and the student community.
May his soul rest in peace!
(*The author remained Principal National School, Srinagar)