Written by Avni Murthy, volunteer, Karve Shikshan Sanstha
Today, class was going to be a little different. The girls weren’t paying attention and their interests were fading, so me and Devyani decided to have a heart to heart session with them. We would not be teaching anything in class today, we were just going to talk. Encourage, motivated.
So we walked in, not worried for a change. Spilt the girls in two groups, each of about 10. We went there to teach them spoken English three times a week. We asked them why they come here, why they wanted to learn English, and all of them had their hands up instantly! It’s like they knew the answer so well and it was almost rehearsed. Mohini said that she wants to learn English because everyone knows it and said that “garaj aste oh naukri karayala, bhandi nai ghasayachi divas bhar!” She likes computers. I was amazed, they were all really ambitious. Shreya wants to get into the army and Renuka wants to become a doctor.
Back to the motivation bit. I started off by telling them stories of personalities who grew up in harsh environments and with hard work made it big. Then told them about a few of my friends who are inspirations to me. I wanted them to want to learn English. I know how I make fun of people who can’t speak English grammatically right, and I can’t imagine not speaking English myself. I even think in English. This is why I started volunteering here in the first place. I asked them about their parents or relatives at home. How they are all working hard for them to have a good life and the least they could do is get good grades. About how you need to learn English not primarily always, but getting good education would be the key to their success and that only education will solve all their problems. Most of the girls are either orphans or have only one parent. They have seen some cold days. But somehow I couldn’t get through to them; I was finding it difficult to communicate the importance. I really want them to be someone when they grow up and stand tall. Devyani on the other hand there seemed to be doing a kick ass job. Girls were weeping there! So I asked her to switch groups. Even on a good day I can’t make someone cry but even on a bad day I can always make someone laugh. I was going to the weepers group. Before I did anything or said anything, the girls took my hand, made me sit and some hugged me, rested on my shoulders and slept on my thighs. I didn’t know what to do. Chaitrail was the one crying the most out of them. She is about 6 years old and has lost her dad. She started telling me about the day her dad died. Every cold detail, crisp as she remembered. About her mother’s reaction over the phone when she found out. The men in the family trying to be strong along with her 9 year old brother who was trying the hardest. Her grand mom and the devastated look she wore. I could’nt say anything, I just held her hands tight. Nayan was a orphan. Very mischievous and bubbly, I never knew this side of Nayan. She refused to talk, just rested on me. A few minutes later my shirt had her teardrops, she apologized, and I hugged her as if she were dying in my arms. She almost killed me. Renuka was sitting right next to me, listening. Mothering the rest of the girls who found no place on me. Wiping their tears and telling them that their loved ones would not want them crying like this. She was the strongest one there. Who knew the nights she cried herself to sleep, waking up with eyes that told a thousand stories. She wore a key in her neck. Big black eyes and short hair and powder on her face. I admire her a lot. I am thinking of all this, about them, right now, but what must they be thinking of before going to bed? Do they pray to god? Do they sleep with a dream they already know they are going to dream of? Or do they have dreams that don’t let them sleep?
Yet, every time I have been there, they have offered us nothing less than their smiles and their enthusiasm. Their eyes still always sparkle. They have warmth, and the way they take you in as a part of them, as a friend they can share everything with. Even their deepest secrets and problems.
Their life is so simple, they get up, live in that one assigned location, do their chores and study and go back to sleep. They don’t care about what they are wearing or the things that they do not have in their lives. They don’t even try too hard to make you like them. We have memories of school or a camp we went to or a dance competition we all took part in, and they have memories of dark days and nights spend just worrying if tomorrow is going better than today .They live such simple yet such complicated lives. At their age, they have seen the worst. And those two hours motivated me more than them. It thought me not to crib because the things I have are their wildest dreams. They are truly an inspiration to take what you have and make the best out of it. To not waste your life or time doing stupid things that don’t give you anything. Have fun and take your life seriously, educate yourself because you are given the opportunity to, because you can! To not be hypocrites. To be true and honest and to know that only hard work will get you somewhere. And how never to forget that you have been BLESSED if you are capable enough to read this.
Avni Murthy, volunteer, Karve Shikshan Santha.