Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Face to Face

I was busy orkutting today in the evening when my friend Akshay came into my room and asked me, "Do you want to go to teach the street children, for NSS? Hours will also be awarded." Smitten by lethargy and internet, my usual answer was, "No, not interested." Even the greed of NSS hours could not motivate me.

Fifteen minutes later, I was frustrated with the net speed in the hostel and finally thought of moving out. I saw Apoorv going for the Teaching Project. I accompanied him just for the sake of providing recreation to my mind cluttered with boredom.

We moved towards the place in our campus where all the masons who build our hostels live. There were about a dozen children of the age-group of 5-10 who haven't yet touched a pencil. We had to convince all the parents to allow their children to be taught by us. In most of the cases the father would allow, but the over-protective mother would always hinder saying, "Anjaan log se padhne kaise bhej de?"

We told them that we were not strangers but we too were students. We decided to teach the children in their locality only, so that more children turned up and parents could also develop a faith upon us. This was just the beginning. Everyone of us(the volunteers) were assigned with one child to teach. We were asked to be a friend first and then be a teacher.

I was assigned to a girl of about an age of 8 years. Her name was Rani. Inexperienced in the domain of teaching, I tried my best to do my job effectively. I asked her how much had she studied. She told, "Sirf ek saal tak, uske baad ma ghar ke kaam me baitha di."

She turned out to be interested in studies. She told that she knew counting from 1 to 20, she knew hindi as well as english alphabets, she could identify all the colors and she loved playing luka-chupi. She told that she liked to study when she was in school, but her mother did not allow her to go to school saying it was of no use. I was in gloom after hearing that, feeling very very apprehensive.

To change my mind, I asked her what her ambition was, what she wanted to become when she would grow up? After I poked her for some time(she was feeling shy to tell, perhaps because it could be too big dream for her), she said that she wanted become a doctor. Drawing inspiration from the movie Taare Zameen Par, I asked her to draw anything on the paper. She asked me what to draw. I told her to draw a circle, and then a leaf, then a flower and then a face...and so on. She drew almost everything which was constituting our the surroundings. Wherever she stumbled, I helped her out. It was great fun for both of us, especially when starting something from scratch...from the grass-root level unlimits the possibility of explorations. I taught her how to write her name in hindi as well as in english. I talked to her about basic hygiene, about what's the importance of washing hands before meal and cutting nails. I asked her to share all these facts with her family too.

Time passed swiftly, and soon dusk overtured the sky. Our work for the day was over, Before leaving, I asked Rani to do a homework i.e. to draw a cow and come tomorrow. To my surprise, her reply was, "Ghar mein pen nahin hai." I asked her that your Dad might have it. She said,"Baba ko padhna nahin aata hai." . Stunned at what she said, I came to realize the real condition of my country. In the campus of India's best academic Institute, ironically when these people don't even have an access to the basic ingredients for education like a paper or a pencil, then what would be the condition of the remote areas of the country. I looked at her eyes, all I could see was the innocence and an immense desire to learn. I gifted her my pen and two A4 sheets and made her promise me that she would turn up tomorrow, no matter what her mother said!

What more, we had done our work, and probably two hours would be awarded for that(thereby making my hours count for NSS as 54). If I take off my mind from the NSS hours, this day has showed me something bigger than any of my personal desires i.e. my real India : the condition people at the very base.

Look at these eyes, can we be so mean that we don't even pay notice to the fire hidden behind those cute little eyes. The grass-root level has got an immense potential which will remain unexploited until people look forward to contribute. If we look around carefully, we can find numerous Rani waiting for us to show them the way. Often, we want to contribute but we feel insufficient to convert our thoughts into actions. Today, I came to know that we are not insufficient, but we are gifted with a great tool which is enough to bring a radical change in various lives and that tool is nothing other than EDUCATION. YOU and only YOU have the all the ability to reach out to thousands and touch their lives. This one hour of teaching has provided me with much greater feelings for my nation than my entire lifetime life had, and now I can say proudly, "Life is too big than these NSS hours."

P.S. NSS stands for National Social Service.
P.S. Some of my friends had a great struggle teaching kids who didn't even understand Hindi, but they didn't surrender. Hats off to them!
P.S. I have completed just 52 hours of NSS in the first year, of which about 10 hours are by fraud. They ask us to complete 100 hours in a year though.


yogy said...

gud goin buddy...keep people motivating for doing gud work for our nation..after all if we hav sum problem with the system than we ll hav 2 take the responsbility...keep it up...we need more too get motivation going...

supriya said...

first of all life is toooooo big than nss is wrong and once you correct it i think this might just be my fav post :)

aman said...

u portray the feelings and thoughts so well ,, that it really ignites a spark !!! u did it seriously and for the country i think u gave a try and a start (grabbed the opportunity infront of u) ,, u love this country much much more than anyone i met personally .. thanks for being there and as far as this country is concerned ,, it will change SOON ...

anita phalswal said...

i would like to see some more recent thought provoking write-ups at your blog.The one i just read has left me yearning for more.liked the inherent penetration potential this genre of your work has got...

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