Written by Deepali
As I am sitting here facing a blank page, it suddenly occurs to me that I have seen such blankness many a times on my children’s faces as they struggle to comprehend what is being said in class. I do not think that I am an accurate face reader or such but after so many months of interaction with these children; I can surely claim to know a little bit about them. This class has a grand total of only ten children. It is a tight knit group of four girls and six boys who share an unusual bonding with each other and support each other through thick and thin.
There is Saraswati, the unofficial leader of the group. The boys and girls all respect her and look up to her for advice in studies and elsewhere. She is a very intelligent and humble girl with bright shiny eyes who has no arrogance whatsoever and is always ready to help. She has ambitions of becoming a doctor and I do hope she gets to fulfil her dreams. Asha is her right hand in command and her shadow, also bright and tries to keep up in studies with always a naughty smile on her face. Pooja is a quiet girl who struggles to understand English and would rather prefer to be far away from studies and all such worldly things. The last girl from this girl is Pinky. She still has the innocence of a five year old and is devoid of any machinations and deviousness. She also struggles to cope up with studies and may drop out after her tenth.
Ramesh and Suresh are like twin brothers, both smart and intelligent and can read English fluently and understand what is happening in the class. Both also possess a dry sense of humor which makes me laugh too. Pankaj is Pinky’s brother and refuses to acknowledge that he needs help. With sheer determination, he tries to read and is successful most of the times. He knows the value of hard work and I am sure he will go a long way with his determination. Shankar is a quiet boy who till date has never spoken to me. His way of communication has always been by nodding his head either sideways or up and down. He is unfamiliar with local languages of Marathi, Konkani and Hindi and cannot understand English at all. Next is Asif, a bold and brash tall boy who rides a bike and is a good artist but can barely read a line or two. He says, “ Padhai-Likhai nahi jamti, teacher, tenth karunga phir baap ka dhandha sambhalunga”. And last but not the least at all is Kanhaiya, my mystery boy…till date he has attended only three of my classes, and yet I have seen him every Thursday outside the school in his uniform going back home saying that he has been sent home for coming late. I do not know anything about him except his name and the fact that he has been attending my last two classes diligently as promised.
All these children have made a place in my heart and I pause to think and worry about what awaits them in their future….Surely, there is a silver lining to every dark cloud??
(All names have been changed to protect identities)