I was out for my evening walk when I approached this small temple down my road. There was this kid, practically sprawled on the marble floor just outside the Ganesha temple and writing. On closer inspection the kid, who was dressed in a dhoti, seemed to be the son of the priest. Unable to contain myself I went down on my haunches and asked him what he was studying. He said he was doing his Sanskrit homework. I asked him why he was studying here, he replied that he sometimes helped out his father at the temple in the evenings and the light here was brighter than at home.
This is the land of great men like Dr. Abdul Kalam and their humble beginnings. We have also heard many a tale of children of auto-drivers or maid-servants clearing competitive exams with outstanding scores, kids studying under street-lights, children polishing shoes on one side and reading their school book on the other, some delivering newspapers early in the morning, or selling flowers in the beach. We do hear, but we never really fully understand the enormity of our blessings. Such things need to be seen to be believed. When children are told these stories, many of them get irritated, unable to appreciate what they have. Some of them sigh and roll their eyes impatiently. Most of them are lying smug in this belief that their parents will somehow see them through. I guess we as parents are responsible for this thought in them.
What caught me was this child was so happy there, perfectly comfortable, oblivious to the curious looks of passers-by and engrossed in his home-work. He seemed genuinely interested in the work he was doing. Something inside me blossomed. As teachers it is this interest, this thirst that makes us want to give more. This child did not use his circumstances to ask for more, neither is he using it as an excuse not to study.
I want to ask all my students – what is your excuse?
(I am not posting the child’s picture here to protect his identity.)