I am sharing what ‘I Saw and I Learnt‘ at BlogAdda.com in association with DoRight.in.
While I was ornamenting my name written on the front page of my old diary, a little boy peeped into it. There was a hope of new creation. It isn’t uncommon for me. I have often watched these little kids- future servants, washer men, rickshaw pullers, masons or may be future doctors, engineers, bankers or professors. They always encouraged me to write- even though they did not understand a single word. They were not jealous, sad, angry, or greedy. They were just happy and humble. They went to school daily which hardly lasted for an hour or two. They played for rest of the day and after dusk, got assimilated into the darkness of their plastic covered unelectrified tin cabins.
A little girl: How many pages will you write didi? Is it some holiday assignment?
I remember this little girl. She’s the same who ran into me last Valentine’s day, mischievously encircled her tiny hands around my palm and asked for some chocolates. The auto driver who I hired to take me to office and bring me back became very annoyed- “Why do you beg here? Go and beg near the temples. The big sahabsliving here will not like it.”
At that moment, I could not help but giving way to a flash back. My favorite Literature teacher once told me, “If you want to become a good reader, step into the shoes of the author. If you want to become a good writer, imagine yourself in place of others. You would always find a protagonist and antagonist and in this course, you would learn a lot.” Recalling my lessons on empathy, I winked at the girl to go away for a moment. After the auto driver went muttering to himself, I held her tiny fingers and let her lead me to the nearest grocery shop. Soon I saw her entire gang following me. I was worried my entire pocket money would vanish in a moment but to my surprise, they shared the chocolates and biscuits happily. That was the day when we became friends.
One of the kids: Didi, why do you always write in the same copy?
Me: This is a diary. It is not a copy. It has dates of a particular year just like calendar but there is a page for everyday to jot down plans or notes etc. but it’s quite old.
One of the kids: Do you write stories in it?
Me: I try to
One of the kids: Please share some with us. Our teacher narrates us stories but they are really old.”-saying this, a boy snatched my diary and opened the first page. There were chemical formulae written all over the first page and at least 200 pages that followed. The old diary itself was a story.
Me: Kids, do you like studying?
One of the kids: No, we don’t like going to school. We like to play. We go to school only because our parents force us else they beat us.
Me: Well, it’s good to study. Your parents want you to do well in life. Anyway, I would tell you a story- not a fairy tale but a real one. The story is about how I got this diary.
When I was a kid just like you all, I too hated going to school for studies. I liked painting, dancing, debating, acting and playing. I was one of the few all-rounders of the school. Apart from being an active participant in every event, I was also one of the toppers of the class. However, my class rank was deteriorating in class 10th because others were getting too serious. This worried my teachers though I hardly gave a damn.
A kid: Did not your mom and dad scold you?
Me: My parents never believed in scolding. They always treated me as their friend. They just wanted me to do well in everything I do. They made me believe that I can become anything I want to- even an athlete or an artiste. But my teachers did not think so. My class teacher who taught us Chemistry was concerned. She once called me and tried to convince me that studies should be my priorities. I listened to her carefully and tried to tell her that I was already doing my level best. However, she was not satisfied with my explanations. Finally, she decided to be stricter with me. She cancelled all permissions to visit the playground or Art & Craft teacher during class hours. I was very cross but had no options other than sulking. One day I persuaded her so much that she had to give in. The only condition she set before me was that I had to answer all the questions asked by her in the class. To my dismay, she used to ask me the toughest questions for which I had no answers. This continued for two or three days until my ego was hurt. I decided to retaliate. I stayed awake for an entire night and prepared the chapter. Next day I was able to answer all her questions. This made her happy and it made me confident. With a little effort I was able to achieve better results in other subjects as well. I felt victorious but at the same time developed a disliking for my teacher. Two months later, I came to know that she was going to leave the city for another job. I was exhilarated. I bought a farewell card for her which made her emotional. She said- “I asked you questions meant for a topper and you never disappointed me.” She handed me an old diary and said-“This is my diary. Make the best use of it.” Perplexed about what I was supposed to do with the diary, I saw that she gifted books to other students, some of those expensive and rare. I was sad. I showed it to my mother and she asked me to open it. The diary belonged to my teacher when she was a student. It had notes from several text books of Physics, Chemistry and Biology. My mother told me-“You told me that she did not like you but she gave you the best gift. Your results have improved because she challenged you and encouraged you to push your limits otherwise you had already lost your battle in your mind.”
The notes helped me a lot during my Board Exams but more important fact was that it gave me a lesson that one can mould iron only when it is red hot. People who are your benefactors need not to be people who always adore you but they can even be your strictest critics.
One of the kids: Do you take notes in the diary?
Me: No, it doesn’t contain any note taken by me. In fact it contains all the learning that I had at any point of my life. I have decided that I will also hand it over to someone who would come across as a favorite student.
One of the kids: Didi, my mother also tells me stories of Gods and ask me to be good. Do you write those stories also?
Me: There have been many things that I have learnt from my parents, for example, all the good habits but the best things that I have learnt from my parents are those they did not teach me but I developed myself based on their teachings. The lessons learnt in life are not those made to learn by heart but those which we understand, sometimes tweak a little and apply in our life. About ten years ago when I was in class 7, I visited my grandparents’ house in the village to celebrate my birthday. A big puja was organized followed by a bhoj.While my family was busy arranging for the event, I was bored to death and thus sneaked into my neighbourhood. There were many children of my age there who I knew. I remember them sitting on floor outside our TV room every day watching match or daily soaps. What amused me most was how these people used to give me way to enter the room- rolling, dragging, pushing one another as if my touch would burn them down. I asked the children to play with me. Very relunctantly, they agreed. We were playing Hide & Seek. I was not good at it but I enjoyed it. It was my turn to catch people hiding behind walls, wells, bushes etc. I could see a little boy hiding behind our mango tree. Silently I approached him from behind, placed my hand on his shoulder and cried, “Caught you!” One of my cousins elder to me who was inanimately watching our game, came to action and dragged me to the well. She poured a bucket of cold water on me and scolded- “You should not touch these people. They are untouchables.” My grandparents also supported my cousin. I was embarrassed but more than that furious because this was something I used to write against in my school magazine. I remembered when I was unhappy that unlike my other friends, I was unable to learn all the shlokas and puja rituals. My father said to me-“It’s okay darling, you don’t need to learn these or even visit to temple daily. Just love God and his creation and he would always be yours. I knew I was right so I went forward and touched the untouchable kid once again. Without looking back for even a second, I went straight into my room.
One of the kids: You disobeyed your elders. How did your father react?
Me: He was pleased with my action but not my behavior. It was very difficult for me to understand his point of view. He was of an opinion that even though they seemed to be wrong, they were much older than me and were much more experienced and wiser than you are. Even if these customs are unfair, they have been following it for a lifetime now. By behaving rudely, you cannot change them but you may convince them by a healthy debate or at least remove your doubts.
One of the kids: Did you apologize?
Me: Not until after the train journey where I got the biggest lesson of my life.
One of the kids: And what is that?
Me: While travelling back to the city, I met a family- there were two sons, a daughter and their old father. The father was too old to walk, talk or even hear properly. Throughout the journey, the children were busy playing cards, eating or chatting, seldom listening to their father. The poor old man was having a difficult time coping with the speed and noise of the train. The children were not even accompanying him to the toilet and he had to pee in the open. While everyone was asleep during the night, the old man was shivering. He was not given any shawl/blanket. He was trying to wake up his children but none of them was responding. The plight of the old man brought tears in my eyes. The old man looked around helplessly. He caught me watching him and begged for a shawl. Suddenly I realized, there was an extra shawl just beside me. Soon I realized that this was my dad’s shawl that he kept near me because I had cold. I was touched. I trembled thinking of the depth of my parents’ love. I gave my shawl to the old man and went to my dad with his shawl. I told him the incident and asked him to share the shawl with me. He did not say anything at that time and patted my back but next day, he scolded his sons badly. I don’t know what effect it had on those people but my father became my hero.
Thus people say that life is a school and you learn something from everyone, everyday and everywhere. So, love your school, love your parents, love your work, love your game and love learning. Learn to dream and chase those dreams.
I do not know what effect my stories had on these kids but one effect was evident. Now I was not the only person sitting on the park bench and studying. I have a bunch of little friends too who study with me, ask me their doubts and have even borrowed some old books. I guess soon I am going to part with my beloved diary.