It looks just like any other school – the loud chatter from excited children as they scramble to make it into their classes and teachers with stern faces making sure that not one of them strayed away from the pack. As we passed by, the bolder of the lot shouted out, “Good Morning, Ma’am!” while the shier ones simply flashed us quick smiles.
Entering the eighth grade classroom that had been assigned to me, the scene that met my eyes took me aback. I said a silent prayer, hoping that I wouldn’t be ill-fated enough to have to not only teach but also hold the roughly sixty students I saw before me seated at their desks, that too on my very first day. Thankfully, a sweet little girl came up to me and informed me that they were all assembled there to offer their prayers at the small temple that had been set up at the back of the classroom.
After the prayers were said, one of the boys came around with the Arti thali and offered us the prasad, the gesture being as sweet as the prasad itself. Finally, after all the others had left to their respective classes, I stood at the front of the class, staring at the twenty or so students that I had to teach for the next two hours.
I picked up the chalk and wrote, ‘Perimeter’, on the board, ready to impart as much knowledge as I could to them. As we tackled one shape after the other and brooded over the mysteries of ‘radius’ and ‘pi’, I noticed that each of the children had a particular aura about them. Some of them were the kind of kids who devoured my every word eagerly and shouted out the answer even before I had finished the question.
There was another pair of girls who were silent but attentive learners with remarkable looks of determination on their faces. Then there were others who listened and chatted at the same time contributing to the laughter and noise in the class. And of course, no classroom is complete without those children in the backseats who had their Hindi books open when you were teaching them Math.
At the end of two hours, with my throat as sore as could be and my hands covered with the dust of three chalks that I had reduced to stubs, I wondered at the cute girls with their hair held together using ribbons and the boy who had gone to the loo and returned fifteen minutes later with the excuse that some teacher had asked him to feed the cow on the way back.
I felt incredibly amazing as they all waved goodbye to me as I left the classroom- even the ones who I am sure hadn’t heard a word of what I said. And somehow, I couldn’t stop the grin from spreading across my face and wondering how long it would be before I’d be back to teach them again.
– Niveditha Arjun (IPM18)