Image : educationinsider.net
Teaching is a noble profession. Add to it the determination to wade through neck-deep, filthy water to reach school on time, without a day of absence. Well, we will have a teacher who has taken this nobility to new heights. Respect is a word which falls short of describing him.
A T Abdul Mallik has been teaching in a Muslim Lower Primary School at Padinjattumuri in Malappuram district of Kerala since 1992. He used to be late for school when he would change two buses and walk about two kilometers (total 12 km) to reach the school in three hours. Hence, he decided to swim across river Kadalundipuzha every day to reach his school on time. It takes him 10 minutes from his house to reach the riverbank and three minutes walk to school after he crosses the swirling river. With an average salary of around Rs 25 000 a month, he manages to save Rs 30 a day.
On reaching the river, he wraps his dress and personal belongings in a plastic cover and takes to the water with a tube. With his spectacles on his eyes and one hand carrying the bag above the water, he has become a living clock for the villagers in the area – it is 9 am when he is in the water. On the other bank, he puts on dry clothes and walks to the school to be greeted with a bunch of smiling students who compensate for his meager salary. “I haven’t had any problem so far,” he says.
Being a staunch environmentalist and a swimming enthusiast, he hopes that his unique method of commutation and taking his students for occasional swimming classes and field trips would instill in them a desire to save the river and its surroundings, while keeping fit through this excellent exercise.
On Teachers’ Day (5th September), he was appreciated by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Miss Jayalalithaa. He also got recognition for his curious selfless service by way of a mental health doctor from England donating him a fiberglass boat. But before that, in 19 years, he had already swum almost a length equivalent to the English Channel, which separates England and France, and around 700 kilometres during his entire career in 35 years. A unique record for any teacher in the state, and perhaps our country!
This is our humble effort to let people know about his devotion to his calling, about his determination and self-confidence which are perhaps unprecedented.