Category Archives: Teaching/Teachers

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Each time I see my profile pic
And an inviting blank space
Below each and every post
By those unknown ‘post’ers,
My heart starts pounding –
How should I comment on…

the lady who made dosa today,

the girls who had cupcakes and selfies,

the boys who tried beer and adventure,

the man who stood beside a Rolls Royce,

the activist who was infuriated,

the journalist who was ‘enlightened’,

the teacher who came across

another meme that resonated,

the business man who hosted

another dinner for the celebrities?

My material soul utters scornfully:
Loser, it’s your turn to impress.

Waiting: Story 1


“Good! Next, you there, read out your answer, please.” F stood up and started preparing to read. Everything looked just fine, so far, but nobody knew those were the initial peaceful minutes of a slight thriller. Seconds passed by, and she was still preparing to read. A chuckle started to spread all over the class. The busy teacher became curious, and before losing herself to anger, confirmed F had been (physically and emotionally) all right. The friends had no evidence to prove it otherwise. F grew more pathetic and looked at her neighbour helplessly. The teacher, holding on to her last vestige of self-control, tried to encourage her to read. But alas, nothing happened! F was alarmingly quiet as if someone had accidentally pressed her mute button. She miserably gestured something to her friend who failed to decipher it. Already about five precious minutes from those final periods of the Term had been spent in anticipation of an answer that seemed infinitely remote. The  chuckling had by now given way to a perplexed, uneasy silence. Ms. J. , unable to take it any more, stormed out of the class passing this verdict – “Call me when you are ready!” The confused class almost let out a cry, shocked by the disconcerting turn of events.

***

Ms.  J. was at sea. Unlike many previous occasions, that day there was no homework defaulter, leaving no reason for the girls to worry about, or the teacher to take out her vehement sermon the nth time in two months. What must have gone wrong?

As Ms. J. sat there in her room, they arrived – F escorted by the beneficent school leader who of late had been sincerely carrying out her role as the helping angel for the ill-fated ones. “Teacher, she will read it.” Ms. J. readily agreed to the compromise. The angel was asked to leave. F looked desperate to let go the only shield against the  likely onslaught of the annoyed teacher. Having no time to risk that favourable twist, F was released too.

***

No other story might have had a smoother ending. The teacher got back to the class, F read out her answers and the teacher continued from where she had stopped as if nothing had gone wrong.

But Ms. J is still waiting – for F to explain it all to her, someday.

The Silent Bell


“The bell is not ringing!” This was a frequent complaint during the last two days from the annoyed teachers.

To understand the extent of the problem you need to be a teacher. In a school the absence of bell means a standstill. This is how one teacher reported, “I came prepared for the 40 min class, but even after completing it, together with some activities I concocted just now, it’s not getting over. 40 minutes,  this long? What’s going on?” I looked at the clock and sensed trouble. The bell!

The fed up teachers longed to flee the thoroughly enlightened class; the bored students awaited the next teacher for a different kind of replenishment.

Who was responsible? Who had been ringing the bell all these days? Kaka, a hapless victim of the new laws, used to do it. The bell had been punctual all these years and we never noticed the presence, the effort of a human being behind it. We took his service for granted. Now the person has left, leaving the bell dumb and the whole schedule upset.

*       *      *

The attendant is reminded once again, the bell goes and the each one heaves a sigh of relief.

The situation rings a bell and I recall O. Henry’s The Pendulum:

 Nobody heard the click and rattle of the cog-wheels as the third-floor front of the Frogmore flats buzzed its machinery back into the Order of Things. A band slipped, a spring was touched, the gear was adjusted and the wheels revolve in their old orbit.

I reflect: We miss you Kaka. Grateful to you. May God keep you safe, wherever you are!

[Thank you, Julia, for the inspiration!]

They don’t love me…


The misery of a century reflected
On her pale, scared face
When she said, “They don’t love me.”

And thus goes her story:
“I wash my clothes,
I make my food,
I help my mother
I am big enough
And know my duties.
I try to study well,
I am not naughty,
I never tell lies,
I obey my parents,
But they don’t love me,
I don’t know why!”

No dear, they love you.
(She had no evidence to believe so.)

I am not their child
Even yesterday my mother told me
“You were bought from the market
For five bucks.”
She repeatedly tells me,
“Go get yourself run over by some vehicle
You bitch, you wretched creature.
You were not born to me!”

She used to fry fish for me
Nowadays she does that only for my brother.
She flogs me with a hanger,
Burns my skin,
Curses me daylong,
Sometimes makes me sleep in the kitchen.”

But why? WHY?

I sometimes get poor marks.

So study well.

But last day I got 10 on 10
Then she said, ‘You cheated.’

What about your father, dear?

When he returns from work
Mother reports my performance
And he ‘whips’ his share
Using his belt!

I don’t want the school to be over
I can’t think of going home
I prefer week days to weekends!

She was just nine.
She was the only daughter.
They were her biological parents.

Then why……?
I have no answer,
Neither did they.

Interventions helped.
Realizations,
Remorse,
Penance,
Reconciliation.

Happy ending.
Hope it lasts.

Dear teachers,

If any one of your students is often found unusually gloomy or naughty, take him/her aside for a little heart-to-heart talk. She may be a victim of child abuse. And you can be of some help.

(100% true story from the city where I live. She is just as old as my girl, whom you see in the picture.)

I am not going to school.


(Adapted from a kid’s thought-diary, after her first day at school)

My sister is responsible. She, who lured me into the idea of going to school, seemed to enjoy a lot of privileges: a special dress called uniform, a large bag full of books, pencils and even coloured pencils, the freedom to use them anywhere according to her whims… School must be a wonderful place – that was the impression I was drawn into seeing her deeds and expressions. Oh, my God what a trap it was!

I had been eagerly waiting for the day on which I too would go to the magical place called school, like my sister.

The initial stages went on well. A new bag, a few colourful books and other stationery, lunch box – the day papa bought them just for me, I strutted around for my sister to see. (Pride goes before a fall!)

I had made two conditions to my parents about going to school. 1) I wanted to go to school in a bus. 2) My sister should be teaching me. In reality: I was made to walk to the school in the neighbourhood. And my sister was nowhere around!

Rest of my dreams got shattered, one after the other, the minute I stepped into the premises of the dull building. It didn’t take me much time to surmise that ‘school is an eccentric place not at all suitable for people like me!’ You too would agree if you consider the following facts about the place:

  • There are so many rooms but I am always asked to go to the same room. Wonder why I am denied the freedom to explore the other spaces! The rooms are all arranged in rows – looks really childish.
  • Throughout the day I have to be glued on to the same chair. You might know, at home I have never remained in the same spot continuously for more than two minutes.
  • The most awful part is the character called ‘teacher’. Her words are all Greek to me. Surely she can speak like my mother, but for  reasons unknown she abstains from that. If I stare into her eyes bewildered, she will repeat the same sounds, more loudly the second time. Stupid lady. Does she think I am deaf? The whole day she indulges in similar meaningless deeds.
  • I should write on the pages, and on the lines, and the way she prefers! At home I could even write on the walls (though my mother makes faces about it).
  • A lot of other children in the class scream their head off in the midst of their struggle to escape from that dreadful place. I don’t understand why they need to make so much fuss about it. Silly people! I have better plans. 😉
  • We usually eat when we feel hungry, right? However school has indigestible rules about that too. I should eat when I am not hungry, and when I really yearn for some food I have to remain hungry.
  • To ‘shooshoo’ I should make some funny signal to the teacher. (Don’t know why at school I felt the urge often. Yeah, honestly.) The teacher would then send me to a horrible aunty who does not seem happy to take the children to the toilet.

More such oddities are there.

Anyway, I have had enough. After a day at school I have picked up my first lessons in life:

  • Life, Reality – both are bitter!
  • There is no place like home!

So, I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL, come what may!

(Hope school won’t blow out the enthusiasm of our little ones.)