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School under siege for ‘Sir we love’
- Taught: English and trees

Nadanghat (Burdwan), Sept. 3: A teacher who taught children to love trees along with English has been forced to refuse a headmaster’s job elsewhere.

It was a force Arup Chowdhury willingly succumbed to — for he loved his students.

When he stepped into Rampuria High School to plant his last sapling, nearly 1,000 boys and girls lay on the ground in front of him and another hundred said “we’ll not let you go” in chorus.

Chowdhury, who had applied for the post of headmaster at Faridpur High School, some 25km from here, had received a confirmation.

In tears with hundreds of students and many of their colleagues, he managed to convey: “I’m not going anywhere.”

The school broke into a thunderous applause and the headmaster scrapped plans for a grand farewell for the “gachh (tree) master”. There would be a special programme for him on Teacher’s Day.

Moumita Haldar and Sudipta Khan of Class XI, Aniruddha Sarkar of X or Arun Pal of IX made a V with their fingers to flash a “victory”.

“We whooped in joy when Sir told us he was not leaving. We had won,” said Moumita.

Chowdhury, 45, who lives in Burdwan town with wife Mithu and son Sushovan, 15, has been teaching in the school for 12 years.

“He taught us to love English. We were scared of the subject earlier,” said Aniruddha.

But those who had nothing to do with either the subject or the school loved him as well — because he had turned the area green. “Sir” must have planted over 4,000 trees in the area, said a local resident.

“He mixed with the people in the locality and stressed the importance of trees. He is our Gachh Master,” said Rabindranath Sarkar, the father of a Class VI student.

Physics teacher Ashok Roy was as fond of the tree fanatic as the literature enthusiast in him. “You could tell he was different from the way he took the decision to stay on with us,” said Roy.

His colleague in the history department, Swapan Das, had no doubts about it.

Burdwan inspector of schools Tapan Basu said technically, there is no problem if Chowdhury decided not to join his new post. He’ll only have to inform the School Service Commission.

“No felicitation will be enough for him,” said headmaster Sukumar Garai.

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