“The Last class of my old professor’s life took place once a week in his house. It met on Tuesdays, began after breakfast. The subject was The Meaning of Life.” Out of the million books that teach you how to live life (I never really get them) this one is the most different because it was taught from experience. Morrie Schwartz was a doctor of sociology, he enjoyed dancing in his own free style and in the summer 1994, he was given a death sentence that of the fatal disease called the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The worst part of the disease was not only does it kill you; it makes death a slow and painful process. But to Morrie, the disease was a blessing (his positivity wouldn’t allow him to interpret it any other way) He thought this way he gets to say goodbye to all his loved ones.
Mitch Albom represents all of us, the ones who get lost in a rat race, forget our teachers, even the most important ones. Morrie was Mitch’s favorite professor and yet sixteen years after college, he didn’t even know his beloved professor was dying until Morrie appeared as his tired self in the popular talk show NightLine. The rest of the book talks about what Life can teach us, what the disease taught Morrie and, most importantly, that Death is inevitable.
14 Tuesdays, each with their own lesson, the book is different from other self help books because it brutally tells that you have to change for your life to change. “Death is one big equalizer” Morrie says. Sitting in his Wheel chair, he talks about how he doesn’t feel life has been unfair. He says he keeps a daily limit on self pity. If he feels miserable in the mornings, he cries a little about it and that’s that. He in fact takes pride in talking about the many people who love him enough to bathe him and more importantly wipe his ass (he says that’s the one point in life where you know you have lost your independence) He describes to Albom the importance to forge his own culture, “Don’t buy it. Make your own culture”
There are many lessons I’d take up with this book, the most important one being, that to know and admit that you are going to die is the most important thing. It makes life a more significant experience and you start questioning every single second of your life, Do I really want to waste my time doing this when I know I am going to die? You eventually end with the best experiences because you FEEL them. “Sometimes you don’t see to believe, you have to feel it to believe it.”
The lessons are precious and invaluable and the book is NOT a tear jerker story about a guy on his death bed. At the end of it all, you fall in love with that brave old professor who talks about the most brutal things in life with a smile. “When you are in bed, you are dead” I loved the read. Perhaps the next best Non-fiction after “The Last Lecture”
Morrie has set the bar real high! The book weaves around the last stages of an astonishing teacher’s life. And most importantly got me thinking how many of us remember the people who shaped our lives!
So this one won’t be a review, not just yet. this one is for all my teachers, particularly my language teachers. Starting from my class teacher at the UKG, Marwa ma’am, who took me onto the stage for the very first time! Then went on to drive my imagination wild by making me learn how to play the flute (never worked of course but still! I pictured myself playing that flute part in Mile sur Mera tumhara! )
Moving on to a Mrs. Malti, she wasn’t my English teacher but helped me hone my Public Speaking skills, took me to debates. She asked us to speak like Pronoy Roy of course I had no idea then how boring he was as a news reader. I was just glad that some teacher took interest in the few good speakers we had in our highly mediocre school!
But in my prized possession of teachers are two people, who by their hearts changed the lives of hundreds of children and continue to do so!
In fifth standard, I was a difficult child, my father had left for States and, well, let’s just say I didn’t take it well. But then the first day of our English class our teacher told us to close our books and just, talk to her! That was the day I met Jyotsna Kashyap Ma’am. She was a whiff of fresh air in a highly claustrophobic surroundings. I liked her class so much I used to bunk my Arts class (because the Arts teacher had washed her hands off me!) and meet her just to talk and she’d oblige EVERYTIME! She could have easily said no but her funda was if not her I’d be sitting alone in my classroom cooking up Devilish recipes of disaster. We had a particular chapter in English at the end of which we were all required to write a scary story. She told us to go home, put ourselves in certain surroundings and just shut the world out and imagine. She told me how great it is to just jot down whatever our mind says. I mostly claim to be a self made poet but the truth is, that one short story got me so scared of my own self! And that was the beginning of this blog and every poem that I have ever written. She made me dream!
When you are taught by someone in your on family, apprehension comes easy. But with my aunt, it was different. The one person who looks at every student as her own child. Cries his/her tears, laughs when she sees them laugh, my aunt has this special gift of making every one even the ones awful at math truly believe in themselves! I remember stories of students who flunked their first terms and I remember them saying one thing about her. She NEVER gives up on you. She never gave up on me and for that I am ever so thankful. She shows faith in you when you have none. And I am lucky coz while some of her students still miss her class. I have her for life.
“A Teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops” Henry Adams