I had a professor during undergrad who taught networking and mobile communications. He was known for his brutality, which consisted of frequently failing 60% of the class, or at least that’s what the rumor always was. And I couldn’t help but wonder why it was that way for a while.

I’ve never indeed paid 100% attention in classes. I only attended them to fulfill 75% of the attendance criteria of the university. I would be a no-show to everything except labs if it weren’t for that. I studied for midterms and small tests from Wikipedia for 20-40 minutes before the exam and got up from my seat 20-30 minutes for an hour exam. I always wondered what the rest of the students wrote and knew that I did not. And somehow, I still managed to stay 75 percentile which was a fantastic effort in my books.

Let’s call the professor RP, and I started on the wrong foot. So my best friend and I decided to do something about it. Everyone was always bored in his class, tried to avoid the first benches, and did not ask questions. We did the exact opposite. Always sat on the first bench, so we always talked to him, so we knew him, and he knew us. We made sure to talk about things outside the books. We asked very detailed questions, especially which I knew he wouldn’t know the answer to because I knew where his knowledge stopped. He never took it personally; instead, he returned to his desk and looked up everything I talked about. After three weeks of his classes, he completely ignored the rest of the class, 40-50% of the lecture’s entire course, and talked to my best friend and me. I passed the class with an average grade. I mean, we were his favorites, but he wasn’t partial. My respect grew for him. In all fairness, he was a simple man, wore formal clothes similar to ones we find at a thrift shop. By the end of my undergrad journey, we were better friends than anything. And then life went on.

The last I heard from him was on LinkedIn when we saw me winning events/competitions/hackathons back to back on a stretch, and he messaged me that he was proud. I usually don’t smile often, but when one of your professors who once despised you complements you – it’s hard not to blush.

I did not hear from him until a few days back. He messaged me saying his wife is seriously ill and needs a heart and lung transplant. Hence he had set up a fundraiser on ketto. He needs $50,000 for it all. I quickly sent 500$ without reading anything as I only saw the start date of it, and it had been a while, so I assumed it already had most of the funds. After I opened the description page, it had only garnered around $13,500. A lot of thoughts went through my head. His wife is only 35. He is a professor and doesn’t earn that much. He probably never saves that much of an amount, even working for 5-6 years in academia with a wife and kids. It was heartbreaking to me. I had just received my paycheck, and although I had been saving for months for surgery (not severe) I needed to do soon, it could probably wait. And my morality was thrown into a toss. I have saved some money that I could send him, which might not help him with his total amount but will still be more than he has. On the other hand, I have a horrible habit of not thinking for myself first, which has put me in trouble. Yeah, I would be cutting it close with finances this month, especially with everything going on, but his wife is battling between life and death. Are my needs that much important than a person’s wife who guided me for a small but essential part of my life in undergrad? It’s tough to make a judgment here.

On the other hand, my anger towards the university grew more as they have always been leechers for money, raising the tuition for students anytime they feel so. It truly boils my blood that they sit on a plethora of cash and cannot help one of the professors that gave the precious years of his life for the same institute and has to go around asking his students for money. How shitty is that? Like goddam. My expectations were low as possible, but this is the time I regret having a high moral compass and not using cyber security skills to do justice somehow where it’s rightfully deserved. I’ve never really had too much respect for the institutes themselves but do respect the people who teach academia. Being a teacher/professor is not easy, and I respect that.

I sent messages to a few folks I went to undergrad with. They haven’t responded to messages. But yeah, this is hard. Hard to comprehend and take in everything that is happening. The start of this year has been from mediocre to bad to worse to horrible so quickly. And it’s just January.

If something happens to his wife, who’s fault would it be? The system that does not pay the people working in academia well, the univ who doesn’t give a s**t about its professor, the students who aren’t helping the professor enough, or the professor itself who cannot provide for his ailing wife? I am at a crossroads here.

While the professor struggled, I had shamelessly ordered a $25 lunch the same day because I was glued to my work system for 8+ hours. So is it my fault in some way that I don’t earn enough or have a severe amount of cash at hand to help a person who has a small yet essential part in my life who made me who I am today.

When I talked to my mom about this, she told me I think many psychological conflicts and my favorite should not be Crime and Punishment. Also made a statement, “Airline attendants ask people to put on their oxygen masks before helping others.” Well played, mom.