I found three of the seven lessons I was supposed to.
While they weren’t hard to find,
They certainly were hard to assimilate.
Each of them, a more than gentle reminder of just how infinitesimal my problems are and have been as against the people here.
Some of them, such a socking contrast, that I’m still wondering if I’m even deserving of the comparison.
I’m leaning towards: ‘Not quite’.
They are ‘more’ than many I’ve known.
The kids here are far more talented, more naturally endowed, more persevering if provided with the platform and more humane than any I’ve known.
I wasn’t half the child any of them are. And it breaks my heart to think of the millions whose potential lies untapped and undiscovered. It breaks my heart to think of the millions whose purity and strength of character we don’t acknowledge, further or transmit to one another.
It’s hard being a school kid here.
The kids here have real responsibilities. Ones that stretch far beyond showing up at school, turning in their homework, participating in school activities and juggling all the different components that make them well-rounded students.
They have duties to perform at home, often standing in for their parents to perform routine tasks and taking on professional commitments every so often even.
I have taught children, who on somedays haven’t been able to make it to school because they have to work the field or man a tea stall or care for a sibling in the absence of a parent or simply because an added hand is needed.
And yet, they catch up with school work, having done their housework – the washing and cleaning and cooking and they show up to everything with a smile.
It killed me and filled me with embarrassment to think of all those times at school I have complained about having too much to do and too little time, of the pressures of studying, of exhaustion and most of all, making too big a deal of student life. Mine was a breeze, in comparison. And I didn’t face half the hardship that kids here do. If I did, I’m not sure I’d have survived.
So yes, my excuses were baseless and my time at school, rather cushioned, even comfortable I’d say!
When a kid asks, it must be addressed.
Kids have a very unique way of looking at anything. It’s always fresh. And because it’s so innocent, it’s worth preserving.
Every time they wondered, I did too.
And it almost made me question everything I knew. I hadn’t asked the same questions as them as a child.
May be I should have.
May be we need to create classroom environments that are more conducive to curiosity.
“Why do all the stories speak of a blue sky?”, one of them asked.
“Because the sky is “also” pink sometimes, it’s also grey and it’s also purple”, a chorus chimed in.
Well, at least someone’s taking the time to look at the sky, here in the village.
As for me, I’m learning what a rainbow of possibilities exist for these children and beaming inwardly.
In teaching, there is only learning. A little more every day.
I need to give this seven-lesson-quest more time.
Adding onto how indebted I am to the village, its people and this experience,
I’m willing to stay in debt with the milk lady to whom I owe a lot more than all those glasses of milk daily.
Four lessons still lie in wait to be found.
I will return and repay.
For the Revolution has also happened outside of this letter, inside my head.
The village deserves more time. From a lot us; from a variety of us.
It will take another RURAL DISPATCH.
It will happen. And it will happen soon.
Thank you Prof. for leading me here.
And now, for ensuring I stay, no matter where I go.
School is a story we all want to tell and cause a revolution somewhere…
The kids here must be on their way…
X is currently part of ‘The Story Exchange Program’ at the O.P.Z. High School in the village of Dhasa in Gujarat. This letter is part of a series we’re calling: ‘THE RURAL DISPATCH’.)
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