With no earrings,a broken watch waiting for its turn and empty fingers, I enter Ummeed worrying not about my jewels but whether boys today will choose education over cricket. It was 9 AM and I promised to have breakfast with them today. All but one already had breakfast, most of them slept again after having it. I had breakfast with one who was waiting for me. I sat in a corner to understand how will I begin teaching. 3 out of 9 IX standard students got up and sat down after a push and pep talk. In past one week, I have discovered that all my students are brilliant but they lack discipline and self-belief. Because of their background, they cannot be forced to do anything nor they can be motivated with stories of great legends. The only thing they need is sense of achievement in academics which will come with consistent trials of their own persistence.
One of the student attended three classes and never attended another one. Two students attended classes and everybody was amazed that they did so. I am still figuring out what turned one away and brought the unexpected ones into classroom. They love my presence is all that I have figured out till now but they have been abandoned before and they don't think I would be an exception. So they don't trust me. I prepared lunch for one of the younger ones, who is not my student, in the past week for I don't like eating my home made food alone while they all eat from mess. I loved little lunch talk I had with him. I brought one boy, desperately waiting for having his love materialized, to my classroom by hitting the bull's eye with "No girl's family will reject you if you are earning well".
This past week it was 9 AM to 10 PM and, a kind of hard work that I never have done before. I am sitting with fewer students at a time so I understand each of their learning styles and motivation levels. I dealt with an issue where a student's clothes were all torn with blade in the night time in his "locker" and he was wearing borrowed clothes. Still don't know how he developed that level of enmity with someone. I just couldn't teach kids when I figured out that they didn't have dinner and breakfast because of some issue with the food. But that was not all. I hit the bottom.
I have got one regular student in my classroom. He is always smiling and has a great sense of humor. He never says no to studies and so I have been really fond of him. During middle of the week however he started asking me quaint questions. It all began with "Didi, what do you mean by 1000 chicks?". Ignored, answered, dodged, deflected, I reached to a stage when he asked me very simply if I have seen Desi Boys. I said Yes and he said "didi why dont you teach us the way the teacher in that movie taught?" I was furious without any bounds. I confronted him by asking him if he has any idea what he is talking about. I asked him to leave the class. I was numb. I thought I have lost a student by not stopping him very strictly at first incident. The fault was mine. And he misused that liberty. After fifteen minutes, I found him lying in another room. I called him out and ask he wants to talk to me about all adult things? If he wants his teacher to give him sex education class and impart to him knowledge of an appropriate behavior towards the opposite gender. He said sorry several times. When I was about to leave that night I found him cutting away from me, not giving his usual smile and not raising his head at all.
Next morning, I went back to him. This time I said sorry for being so furious. Of all the things I know his intention wasn't bad. He just didn't know what to talk in front of a girl. I want to be a mother of these kids and I just have to accept the challenges that they are giving me. He still didn't want to talk and didn't respond well to my apology. After two hours however when I was teaching eighth graders, he asked me from behind "Didi shall I bring the book?". He was back! My joy knew no limits. He placed his trust back in me again. He studied for two hours that day with a gentleman behavior and his usual sense of humor! Joy pervade in every cell of my body. I am proud to have a student like him!
Ummeed definitely is turning out to be one of the hardest things of my life. And I think I am underestimating!