We knew that by the end of the week, we wouldn’t be the same people
It was the first week of October, 2016. We had reached the tail end of the 3rd semester, with the entire module of ‘Culture and Communication’ still untouched. Paranoia was beginning to set in, but Anupam Sir reassured us, “I’m trying for the best teacher, but the confirmation is taking some time.”
That moment, I couldn’t comprehend how good the ‘best teacher’ of the subject would be! The new time table showed an entire week of just one professor and one subject:
‘Culture and Communication – Prof. A. F. Mathew’.
The entire batch gathered, restlessly shifting seating and expecting to be bored for a week, but when the man – the phenomenon that was Prof. A. F. Mathew, walked in, little did we know he’d change our lives forever.
A sociologist by profession, Mathew Sir is easily one of the most knowledgeable and compassionate people I have had the privilege of knowing.
He spoke about religion, gender, sexuality and others in ways that overwhelmed us. He bombarded us with shocking statistics, and strange but uncomfortable facts, calling us out for our ignorance in a way that no one else had before. The first day left us in a state of shock, disgust and guilt. We knew that by the end of the week, we wouldn’t be the same people.
He spoke at length about Islamophobia, the 3 waves of feminism, the indelible grasp casteism still has on Indian society, the need for reservations, the history of the Kashmir issue, the difference between sexuality and gender and the fluidity of the former, how media is Brahmanical and classist and how his generation was more ‘progressive’ than ours.
He got the quietest people to voice their opinions. He put us in awkward dilemmas and asked very progressive questions, teaching us slowly to dispel our ill-informed judgements and biases, and filled our hearts with compassion.
I can think of no bigger testament than the fact that with each passing day, we would willingly stay back longer, just so we could lap up all the knowledge that was offered. He opened up a whole other world in those six days and has since left us to explore it by ourselves.
On the final day, we took one picture with him and bid him a gratitude ridden goodbye that will always pinch my heart. That photograph shall always be treasured by me.
Article By: Venkata Pratyusha Varanasi (Batch of 2018)
Photograph By: Venkata Pratyusha Varanasi (Batch of 2018