“Who among you know the meaning of the proverb –Rome was not built in a day”, teacher asked the class.
“Sir, I have a question”, a student who was sitting somewhere in the middle asked.
“What is your question, Subir?”
“In how many days Rome was built”, the student asked.
“Subir, it is not important to know in how many days it was built or who laid the foundation stone of the city. This proverb carries a very important message and that is very important to know”, the teacher asked the boy to sit down.
“Sir, I was just curious”, the boy said again.
“Please sit down and try not to disturb the class” the teacher sounded little harsh.
“Which Rome sir”, a boy from the front row asked.
“Prashanta, there was only one Rome even though there were two Roman empires, western and eastern. Rome was the capital of the Western Roman Empire and Constantinople was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Now please sit down.” The teacher looked at the class with a hope that someone would try to answer his question.
“Sir, I think I know the meaning” a boy stood up with a big smile on his face.
“Tell me Suresh what it means”, the teacher looked at the boy with a smile.
“Sir, I am not sure but I heard my father said this to my brother once”, the boy sounded little less enthusiastic.
“If you could recollect the incidence and narrate it probably we will be able to derive the meaning of it” the teacher encouraged the boy to recollect the incidence so that he could help the class to derive the meaning from a live example.
“Sure sir. When my brother failed in physics, chemistry and mathematics in his ninth standard examination he cried and cried and cried and requested his teachers to promote him to the next class.”
“Suresh, you do not need to go so much into the past. It will not help us to get the meaning of the proverb”, the teacher interrupted and asked the boy to be precise.
“Sorry sir for going so much into detail. When my brother came home he was still crying. Then my father told him not to cry. But my brother was still crying. Then my father consoled him by saying – failure is the pillar of success and he encouraged my brother to work harder. But my brother was still crying. Then my father told him – even Rome was not built in a day.” Suresh finally looked very happy being able to narrate the incidence.
“Thank you Suresh. Now can you derive the meaning of the proverb from the incidence?” The teacher sounded enthusiastic but did not look hopeful.
“Sir neither my brother asked my father the meaning of it nor my father told him the meaning of it but I noticed one thing, immediately after hearing it my brother stopped crying. So I think this proverb helps when someone cries bitterly”, the boy finished with a big smile hoping to hear few words of appreciation from the teacher.
“Probably your brother stopped crying because he had no more tears left after crying for so long, first in the school and then at home. If you had given him a glass of water to drink probably he would have resumed his water works. Now please sit down”, the teacher sounded angry.
“Sir, I know Rome was built in a day”, a boy spoke from a corner of the last row.
“And how you are so sure”, the teacher looked very upset but sounded sarcastic.
“Sir, we have a neighbor who works in ship. He visited many parts of the world for his work. He heard two people from Bangladesh discussing that Rome was built by two tigers in just one day. Our neighbor was standing next to them while they were looking at a monument in Rome and talking to each other. The neighbor later told this to my father”, the boy finished with a big smile as if he has just built the city.
“Sir, I also think that it is possible to build a city in one day”, suddenly a boy spoke from the middle row.
The teacher who looked upset and angry spoke in a sarcastic tone, “Can you please tell us how”.
“We have learnt in our mathematics class that if we increase the number of workers then the number of days to finish the work gets reduced in a linear fashion provided the amount of work remains the same. So I think with enough number of workers not only Rome but any city could be built in one single day.” He smiled with a great pride as if he has captured Newton, Einstein and Niels Bohr in one single equation.
“I could imagine what a great mathematician you would be when you will grow up”, the teacher looked impatient, angry and upset.
“Sir, it is not possible to build a city in one day. Even our second toilet, which is really small took three days to build”, a boy spoke while displaying fore, middle and ring fingers of his right hand. He was sitting in the middle of the last row.
“Are you the one for whom the second toilet was built”, sarcasm was obvious when the teacher spoke.
“No sir. We live in a joint family so we needed a second toilet. But my father and my mother discussed endlessly about who should first use the toilet”, the boy replied without sensing the sarcasm in his teacher’s voice.
“And who was the lucky one to use it first, your father or your mother”, the teacher not only sounded sarcastic but also somewhat curious.
“My mother wanted her father to use it first but my father wanted his father to use it first”, the boy replied innocently.
“And which of your lucky grandfather did use it first”, the teacher asked.
“It was my sister who used it first”, the boy replied.
“And how a grandchild was permitted to discharge such an important task of a grandfather”, the teacher asked.
“Sir, my parents were waiting for an auspicious day to start using the toilet. But one morning when the other toilet of our house was occupied by my father, my sister also wanted to go to toilet, she was unable to hold so my mother asked my sister to use it”, the boy replied.
“Did that upset your parents”, the teacher asked.
“No sir, I think both my parents were happy but I do not know why”, the boy replied.
Suddenly a boy stood up from the first row and said, “Sir what is the meaning of the phrase – Rome was not built in a day”.
“I do not want to hear the word Rome ever again in my class” the teacher said before he walked out.