Where the past few weeks have been filled with setbacks and disappointments, overwhelming deadlines and way too many exasperated moments than I’d normally like to deal with, they have also been filled with a number of smiles, relief and contentment.
The former was mostly because of a breed I’m unfortunately a part of as well – the adults. The latter was primarily because of a few children and animals I’ve come to know in the past few years.
Since the past couple of weeks, I’ve been witness to incidents that made me acutely aware of the sensitivity gene, that probably goes missing around the time people grow up.
One of the incidents is one which I’d like to unload here:
Chetna was a student in my class last year. I use the past tense because she hadn’t attended a single day of school since session began in June. It wasn’t a surprise to me because I had been aware of the reason – a very simple one actually – by way of meiosis and other related biological process she has been destined to be taken care of by a pair of insensitive adults. (More insensitive than you or I, hopefully). The father has been stopping her from attending school till the mother moves out of the house. The mother has surrendered responsibility of her two daughters saying it will make the father more indifferent than before. The two girls, as a result, are mere pawns in this game of power between the two.
After waiting for her to come to school and postponing my plans of visiting her house for the nth time, I finally visited her house yesterday. I was greeted by a bunch of women standing at the door. Fearing the worst, I asked what had happend. “Chetna gayi”, (Chetna’s gone) her mother said.
Her father had gone off with the two girls (9 year old Chetna and 4 year old Dharna) just 30 minutes back, saying he was going to get them admitted to a hostel in Kolhapur. On calling the father, I heard his smarmy voice assure me that he was going to come back for the leave certificates to the school. He wasn’t willing to divulge the name of this supposed hostel. Of course, there was no train to Kolhapur at 3 in the afternoon either.
Came back home feeling defeated and tired. Called a helpline who asked me to await their call (which didn’t come). Called up the woman and asked her to lodge a complaint with the police but she didn’t fear much for the children as it turned out.
So Chetna came back this morning after being shuffled around like a football. Thankfully alive and well but also ready for another round of to-and-fro between her parent’s messed up relationship.
I will call the child service agency again and arrange for a consultation but the experience has been more unnerving than I expected. As her teacher, there is only so much that I can do.
Even though I’m sad that it happened, it has helped me get my priorities back in focus, which had been side-tracked by some bureaucratic hassles and insensitive adults in my work place.
What saw me through the past few weeks? – My students; who in their emotionally perceptive way sensed my troubles, cleaned the class, arranged my desk and even decorated the class with last year’s Christmas decorations from the cupboard.
After watching a documentary on Summerhill, A.S. Neill’s words keep echoing in my head:
”No one is wise enough or good enough to mould the character of any child. What is wrong with our sick, neurotic world is that we have been moulded, and an adult generation that has seen two great wars and seems about to launch a third should not be trusted to mould the character of a rat” — A.S. Neill