While teaching ‘aksharmala’ to a bunch of high-spirited kids, I too learned a lesson. Wondering what ‘aksharmala’ is, its the series of hindi alphabets- the first step in our formal tutoring! Two things to be noted, firstly I was teaching a troop who was not opportune enough to get education in schools like us and secondly, I could teach only what I knew! After I managed to reach the letter ‘gha’, I paused and pondered; ruffled but resolute I restarted with all I could. Now, read more to it.
Shankar was youngest in the lot and being completely new at this task of teaching a child, especially of his age and means, I tried to go about my own logical way. I asked this champ if anything came to his mind which possibly begins with ‘gha’. He looked puzzled. He wasn’t dumb; he was bright and clever for a child of his age. To encourage him to think I asked “tum kisme rehte ho?” Clearly, the answer expected was ‘ghar’ but swiftly he replied ‘jhuggi’. His response stabbed me. Don’t we all dwell in a ‘ghar’- our homes, the place we call our own and love it enormously too!
I coaxed him to think and believe that where he resides is his ‘ghar’ but the outcome increased my embarrassment. He was rigid in his belief. For him people like ‘us’ stayed there. His reply was abrupt, “Ghar mein aap rehte ho!” Wherever we live today, we wish for a much bigger house and a mansion would certainly do! Simply look around; there are homeless people who are living on the streets, a few have managed to grab a place in the slums. Ever can we imagine ourselves in places like these?
Nonetheless, my attempt to familiarize him with the letter failed miserably. I needed cover. I started thinking of other words beginning with ‘gha’ which probably he could relate to without making me uneasy (inadvertently though)! Thus, I asked “time kisme dekhte ho?” thankfully he answered ‘ghadi’, “paani kisme se peete ho?” and he answered ‘ghada’. He said ‘ghoda’ when I asked “tange ko kaun sa jaanwar kheecta hai?” I felt better that he finally learned the letter though the incident had unnerved me.
Doubtlessly we are living a very demanding life. Every effort is put in with the objective of making it better (truly a self-centered aspiration)! We- the privileged ones should realize that it is no fault of that little gem and countless others like him for where they are today. A promise to change the world is not required. Changes- small but significant, few but uplifting will matter. It is definitely not about charity and donations. It is about ensuring that every child is enabled and equipped to bring about his transition from a ‘jhuggi’ to a ‘ghar’.
Unknowingly we come across a sight which ‘moves’ us, effectively for an hour or a day and non-effectively till we come across something similar again. But to come across something unknowingly and to ignore it knowingly is what spectators’ do and we don’t! Thus, educate if you can as there is a world waiting to learn.
Thursday, September 23, 2010