I was walking ahead and Sivakumar strides in front of me. With a newly discovered confidence, he said “Hi Rohit. How are you?”And with a wide grin I replied “I am fine. How about you?”He responded with what I believe to be with a pinch of sass and said “I am good too. Ok Bye”.And with a laugh that sounded like a Chetak scooter coming to life, he darted away inside.
This 5 second dialogue exchange made me feel like I had carved a marvelous sculpture. It’s surprising on how a normal conversation would be etched as a beautiful memory. This guy who until few days back was apprehensive in speaking could now initiate a conversation. The tricks I had put in place for the children worked after all.
One maddening monday, I was reminded that I would have to teach children. All I wanted to do then was to go to my room and finish the tower of books lying unattended. I was apprehensive on teaching as there was a lot to do in a short span of time. The sight of a blue cotton candy which complimented the tired sky made me temporarily forget about the potential troubles ahead and while relishing it turned me into a 5-year-old again.
Becoming a child to teach children was a masterstroke idea, I felt like Amit Shah who devised a brilliant plan to win elections. My hide and seek skills came in handy and I had my daily workout as well. I had to search and run behind few who have decided not to sit as the weather is good outside to play kabbadi. Few children assembled and their excited faces greeted me as I met the fourth standard students at a Government School. After a minute of interaction, I realised why they were eager. Turns out, the enthusiasm was because they got a new bakrathis week. They had a wide range of plans on troubling me so that they could play Kho-Kho or Kabaadi whenever I come. I had a rare moment of playing the villain role and crushing other’s dreams in a small scale. Their ideas which were exchanged in tamil was easy to figure out. During the class when I replied in Tamil for one of their jokes all I could see was faces which turned to deflated tires
However, a boy named Aditya was excited and smiled when I spoke in Tamil. In a hushed tone he enquired whether could I teach him ‘TV la vara English?’ After he and his friend had a covert operation to the next room did they raise their voices a bit more. The teacher was fast asleep like that baby in Airavat buses. Their plan on breaking that teacher’s scale failed due to cold feet.
The ten kids were a bundle of energy and despite the dingy room we were at, my worries became lighter. I got acquainted with them and they even requested for homeworks after the class. One of my students, Sachin was really curious of my sweating armpits, that I wish I had that curiosity when I learnt organic chemistry. A pair of friends Anjaneya and Daniel were raising hue and cry demanding the homework task to be reduced a little. Sivakumar meanwhile completed the task given and was my Ulysseus arguing that what I am doing is right.
The kids did do their homework but there was a twist, only few had an idea on what I was doing. On what seemed like a googly, few of them do not know the alphabets while others can write but can’t pronounce words. The kids were happily playing and shouting, for a second I thought it was my final ride to the cremation ground.
I quickly devised a plan on individual basic lesson plans for each and the gambles had a pretty good successful rate. Students who were hesitant to speak earlier could now read out a paragraph or a poem. Students who didn’t know alphabets had a proper foundation. Plagiarising tunes from tamil songs, I ended up teaching the poems and rhymes which worked wonders. The class’s favourite was a rhyme called ‘Cup and Saucer’. I just hope I don’t write the verses from this rhyme in my OE paper.
My teaching hour was fun and on the last day, the students passed the tests. Most of the events of the later part of the day seemed to be put on a fast forward. I had to split two guys who were in a fight. Check whether one of the guys hurt his head, check whether I hurt my head by involving in the fight. I allowed them to play the games they wanted.But they wanted to take a selfie before the game starts.
But only two ran, Aditya cried, Anjaneya asked for homework and Sachin whose excitement lightens up the class started flickering. He ran and gave me two paper boats he made and showed me his drawings. The kids asked whether would I visit them again and seeing my helpless face took my mobile number. I was overwhelmed even after stepping out of the school and suddenly I started looking like an abandoned person..
Aditya did call me after two days and asked help on his English homework and how he has started talking few words. He went on to say how he managed to hide the teacher’s scale at his table as he never sits there. I have absolutely no recollection of what I said then but I laughed a lot. He too giggled and said that he shall call me later.
More than the alphabets and sentences which I taught them. I think they ended up schooling me on things I wasn’t sure on. One thing they made me understand is that I have a boxy figure I should be proud of and that I have fans for my ‘spiky’ hairstyle. They drew a caricature of mine to substantiate the point as well. Also, that it isn’t necessary to know a language to teach. If there is some urge from one side, the other side should just shut up and provide what is required. VJ once said “When you see the excitement in people who are experiencing joy in doing things that you do every day for the very first time, it ends up rubbing on you”. They had an intention of troubling me the first day I met but on the last day their wish of making an impact on me did succeed after all.