I know what I want to write about today. My friend just sent me a WhatsApp sticker of the face of our college principal M in a neutral expression, and the word "lolz" written on it. I left that college years ago, and M is no longer the principal. When I was still there though, I was mostly absent. I cannot remember why students liked or disliked him. But I want to write about two incidents involving M that I found striking.
The first was when our marksheets were being distributed. My friend G who is blind did not get his marksheet, the office staff could not find it and told him to wait. M happened to be there. He made the staff look for it right away and he helped them search too. They found the marksheet and M reminded me to read it to G to make sure there were no mistakes.
The second incident involved more searching. My friends, including S who has partial vision, and I were at the canteen. Principal M was there too. Suddenly S could not find her bag. Those of us sitting next to her started looking for it while the rest continued our conversations. We realized the bag was missing and M saw that and made everyone around search properly. The bag wasn't at the Lost and Found department either. M took charge and wrote us a letter of permission to check the cctv footage. (I think the cameras were installed just earlier that year. Fuck surveillance, although it did help S find her bag sooner.) S had a class so I went alone to take a look at the footage. It showed the student who took the bag. When M saw it, he recognized the student and knew the department he was studying in. So M, S and I went to the student's class--luckily they had a lecture going on. The student said he had picked the bag by mistake and after he had realized this, he had left it back at the canteen. M, S and I went to the canteen. The head of that student's department--possibly management--also accompanied us. We found S's bag in a corner of the canteen.
In both cases, M could have just told us what to do, but he always came along to help. I appreciated that. Some years ago I also heard that he had arranged hostel space for a student who had lost his parent.
I am thinking of the people I met at college. The watchmen, the library staff, the canteen staff. Anna from canteen. He was very kind. My mum and I were at college once, perhaps during summer vacations. That means the canteen was shut for holidays, except Anna's counter. But at the time we reached, his counter was closed for an hour's break or so, and he was busy bookkeeping. He still got up and let us buy tea, he didn't make us wait. He would have been this kind to anyone else, but I like to think that that time it was because he knew me well.
I used to see the librarian on trains, I still do. Often the 9 am and 5 pm ones. She lives in my city. I once watched Les Choristes and found that it was based on a book. The next day I was at the library, searching its catalogue for the said (obscure) book. The librarian was around and she peeked at my search and said well that's too random, we won't have it, what is it about? I explained it to her. She searched the catalogue for "children" and "war" and we found a relevant book!
It is amusing that I remember these incidents because a lot of my memory keeps getting destroyed by the ravages of life. I don't know what links them, other than that they are all about small kindnesses, tiny bits of attention given in an otherwise violent world.