A Wednesday morning means that I’ll either be in Auxilium Carona, or Kasturba Matoshri. Today, I’m in Kasturba Matoshri High School (KMS). I’m taking the 5th std class after a while.
Since they come back riled up and excitable after recess, I decided to make them go through a serious of actions as a game, just to calm them down and settle them back into the class room space. I’m happy to see that this game still grabs them. Seems maybe I’d forgotten that they are still a young class and there is joy and engagement to be found in even a simple physical activity.
I took some time with bringing the concepts of the book to the fore. We started the discussion with animals around us and their colours. In time, I asked them whether they knew an animal that ‘did not have a colour of its own’; and got no responses to this. I then rephrased and asked if they knew of an animal that changed colours. Still, my question met with silence.
Hmmmmmm…….come on, where was that golden moment when I got the right response?! And I so wanted it to come from them!
A small voice at the back said ‘sheddo!’; and I was relieved! I asked if anyone had heard of a sheddo, and Nandini explained to me the concept of a ‘shadow’. After writing the word on the board and explaining that ‘sheddo’ was anKonkani word that described an animal, we moved on and another boy said that ‘it had a long tongue.’ And that was our cue for a little discussion on the features of a chameleon.
“So….does anybody know why a chameleon changes it’s colour?” I asked them. ‘So that no one else can see it!’ ‘So that others cannot catch it!’ ‘So that he can hide and catch other animals’
I was a happy story transactor…who was now ready to bring on the big book! I admit that it’s one of my favourites at the moment and so, the book we were reading today was A Colour of His Own. A wonderful story written and illustrated by Leo Lionni. In this story, a chameleon wonders why he doesn’t have a colour of his own, and thinks up ways in which he might get one. When all fails, he shares his woes with another chameleon who tells him, that they will never have a colour of their own; but goes on to propose that they stay together, so that though they will never have their own colour, they will always be the same colour together. And the chameleon was happy to have found a friend.
The illustrations in this book are beautiful and have (along with the story) a wonderful capacity to hold an audience. And this is exactly what happened that day. We were all happy in our cozy little story shell.
And when the last page was turned, and a satisfied sigh was heard. I asked a question. ‘Did the chameleon find a colour of his own?’ And they told me, that he didn’t, but he was happy to have found a friend.
And then as they all proceeded to give the chameleon an adopted colour on their activity books, I walked around the class helping them out. I requested those who had not yet written the name of the story or the date to do so. I corrected a couple of spelling errors. I spelt out a good number of words for the kids in that class.
And I wondered. About a language of their own. Expressions of their own. The struggles that they face between the two. How hard must it be to struggle every day to learn a foreign language. How hard to have to use words that one does not possess to express thoughts that are thought in a different language.
How to bridge the gap?! The battle is uphill all the way. And our work continues, it grows, and it has it’s low moments and it’s high moments.
Stories. This is our ‘colour’.
And for now, we’re happy to have found these little friends who are happy to have the same ‘colour’.