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It was already one day gone of our Christmas holidays and I suddenly remembered that I had promised my friend something in diwali holidays but couldn't fulfill. I messaged her and got her reply that I can join her the very next day if I wish. Next day morning I was at her center and then we walked through the narrow lanes which led to the Zilla Parishad school. The school has around 60-70 kids in 1st grade. They were excited to see a new person with their regular teacher. We sat down on the floor and made paper boats with marble paper.They were so excited with the simple paper boats, I thought of our kids who don't even show excitement for the expensive gifts they get. Some looked bigger for 1st grade but were timid and quiet. Then the teacher told me that most of them are coming to the school first time directly to 1st grade. Their parents work at construction sites, road repairing works or sell small things on the footpath. And many of them send kids to school only because the kids get mid day meals at the school. Many times teachers go to their shanties or hutments to bring them to school.
Then next day we went to another Zilla parishad school. This time I was with 4th grade students. They welcomed me with song & a rhythmic clap. I simply taught them names of shapes and how to make designs joining different shapes. Then I told them Christmas story and sang Jingle bells for them. A cute cat eyed girl named Khushi had lots of doubts in spellings and then her friends told me that she rarely comes to school. When I asked her why she is not regularly coming to school, she told me that she has to walk a lot to the school. When I was leaving they all asked me whether I will be coming to school on friday.
On friday I went again to same school. I was so happy to see them eagerly waiting for me. They ran to me and wished me. Khushi was there with a broad smile and told me "I came today to school, just to meet you again". I gave a white paper to each of them and asked them to fold it and write their favourite things, person,their ambitions and wish and decorate the outer side to make it look like a greeting card. I was surprised to see some beautiful drawings. My last question was what they wanted to change in their life and the whole class wrote the answer-"Nothing". I asked them again explaining them whether they want to change their home, dress or anything else. But they answered - "No teacher... we are happy with what we have". Another lesson I learnt from them.
There were 3 kids sitting on the floor in one corner of the classroom. The other kids told me that they are new to school and teacher teaches them separately. I told them that as I am just having fun time with them, they can come and sit on the benches. As I was about to leave that day, I asked everyone to give the cards to me. She was there sitting with the paper, I called her and looked in to her paper. Just a name written"Jaya Namdeo Kale". She don't know to write. I took a pencil, asked her and wrote down her answers. Then I drew a tree and a house in the front side and gave it to her. I could see a twinkle in her eyes. I asked her about herself. She told me that her parents sell balloons and they live in a roadside shanty. I promised them that whenever I get a chance, I will be there to meet them. I came out of the class and heard a sound.." Teacher"..... she called from my back. With a big smile...she gave me the paper that I had given her, but with a drawing of a house on the other side. I was touched to the core of my heart.
Now also a boy from that class meets me when I go down with my son in the evenings. He lives nearby. Every time he asks" Teacher.. phir se kabhi aaoge humare class mein". Three days experience but I am changed a lot from inside. They gave me a lot of happiness. They taught me to be happy with what I already have in my life. They inspired me spend more time for kids like them. I love myself for the way they calls me.. teacher....
I am one of those 70% people who always want to do some social service but never able to actually get in to it as we are already busy with our own commitments. Thanks a million to my friend Sumukhi who runs an NGO named Manjari Charitable Trust, for giving me a chance to be a part of her service for just three days.