Written by Deepali
“Teaching is a work of heart” I happened to read this somewhere and it made me pause for a moment and totally agree. So many children touch our lives in different ways and every child makes his own place in our heart.
We go to different schools to conduct weekly library sessions throughout the entire academic year within the school timetable and it is in one such school last year that I happened to get to know a boy. ‘Know’ is a wrong word probably as I may have barely skimmed the surface of his life. He was a very bright boy with shining eyes and a bright smile, hair neatly oiled and combed and a sunny disposition. He was naughty too but sharp enough to know just how much to trouble me. He would attend two of our weekly library classes on an average per month and was conspicuously absent the other two weeks. Sometimes, he would be present throughout the entire month. In all my ignorance, I assumed that he loved skipping classes. Sadly, I never paid much thought to this. This academic year, in my new class, I missed him and asked his classmates about him and they told me a story that shocked me to the core.
This 12 year old boy had been abducted by his so -called uncle and brought to Goa on the pretext of better schooling facilities along with a group of similar aged boys. In the summer, apparently, the neighbouring state police finally managed to trace the perpetrator to Goa and arrested him. The minor boys who were rescued were all sent for medical tests and all of them including this particular boy tested HIV positive.
The boys have been sent home to their families but I shudder to think what he must have gone through last year. What was the uncle’s intention in sending this boy to school and sending the other boys to work? Was it the uncle’s way of atonement for whatever he was doing? Was school a welcome respite for this boy or was it something he had to do forcibly? Could I have shown a bit more than the mandatory attention each child deserves and maybe helped him? But, I did not know and except for his absenteeism I had no other evidence to suspect anything. Would he have opened up to me? Where is he now? What is he thinking? Is he missing school, missing his friends? I am still grappling with this and many other questions regarding him and all I come up with is regret for time and opportunity lost. How is it that we take so many things for granted?
And today, I was told about two brothers who are both in a class of mine. They are brothers but refuse to acknowledge each other and their relationship. They do not even sit on the same bench. Sibling rivalry seems like a frivolous reason for hurt this deep. It is almost two months since I have known them (again the same wrong word) but it is only today that I have been informed about their relationship. Will I be observing them? Of course I will be….but definitely with a different perspective. Will I try to understand and support them. YES ! The school year will slowly unravel new stories and new experiences, and I am ready, growing stronger as teaching is but a work of strong heart!