Author: Indranil Roy
Teachers are an inspiration for many students, for they ignite the imagination and instil hope and a love of learning in the young minds. No one can underestimate the importance of teachers in the building of a successful nation and their impact on the overall outlook and personality of the child. E.R. Braithwaite’s 1959 autobiographical novel “To sir, with love” was one book that had a great impact on me and I still remember the amazing story to this day. Though it has a different plot describing a fight against racist ideology, with a black teacher winning over his white students; the heart of the book details a teacher’s relationship with his students. The author Indranil Roy, himself a teacher, comes up with the book “The man behind the teacher’s desk” which tells the story of an inspiring student-teacher relationship.
The storyline follows Aniruddha Chowdhary who aims to become a teacher like his mentor and idol Kamal sir. Aniruddha draws support from his teacher, whose guidance helps him cling to life whenever he is dejected. He is persecuted in his childhood due to poverty, his parents fail to support him and he even becomes a victim of campus politics in his college life. He starts giving tuitions from a young age for survival and later joins a school. He gets in touch with four ladies and falls in love with three of them at different stages of his life, but fails twice to save his love interests. Having these setbacks, yet he decides to put up uncharacteristically deceptive resistance to save his favourite student’s future.
The book cover is beautiful, with breathtaking scenery of the mountains and an empty bench overlooking it, but one doesn’t quite understand its relevance to the title and the story. Most likely, it portrays the loneliness faced by Aniruddha and it would have been better if Aniruddha and Kamal sir were shown sitting on the bench. The blurb on the back cover is well written and details the story well.
The story is very much different as not many fictional stories have been written about the protagonist himself following the teaching profession deriving inspiration from his own teacher; but the writing style is somewhat bland, with not much usage of adorned language and a gratuitous monotony in the plot. The characters of Aniruddha and Kamal sir have been explored well, but putting more subplots in the simple narrative would have worked better.
This book should be read for its inspiring, yet simple plot; but more liveliness in the narrative and gripping complexities in the story were needed to exalt it as “To Kamal sir, with love” (referencing to E.R. Braithwaite’s book). Nonetheless, this is a good read for those wanting to delve into the story of a student in immense awe of his great teacher.