The school’s opening event would take place at in the morning. I changed my mind at once; this appointment can wait. I felt immensely happy for my new decision.
I arrived here for the first time. I was profoundly astonished. The location is called ‘Methor potti’ whose inhabitant’s occupation is cleaning filth, but their houses were shining spotless.
I had to face an unexpected mutiny at the beginning. The Heads of the community expressed their strong disapproval. One of them actually gave the statement while making animated gestures, “Why our houses should be used as classrooms, can’t he use his home instead? Why isn’t he turning his house into a school?”
I didn’t let this commotion to be the reason for interrupting any of my pre-planned arrangements. I stopped them by saying, ‘I don’t need a home. All I need is a decent space for couple of hours with a roof that will prevent from rain.’ I reminded them that it was their children who would receive the benefit of education. ‘I am not a representative from any NGO. I hadn’t come here with any ill-intention. My only intention was to give your children access to the basics of education at beginner’s level. Please give me a chance, let me demonstrate my work. If my activities do not please you, I will not continue.’
The place that I chose to use for their classroom was so clean that I could not hesitate for a moment to sit on the bare floor. I had to face another wave of astounded shock; their teacher had arrived precisely at which I did not expect. Not that he was keen to prove his punctuality in front me as I informed him in advance that I might not show up.
Some of my acquaintances revealed their eagerness to teach them for free but I didn’t want to count on them. I had my own logical explanation behind the very reason. We are very sentimental as a nation. Someone may take the responsibility out of compassion but there is a good chance that the person will lose the enthusiastic spirit shortly after a while.
I was looking for a professional, skilled teacher who had proper training to teach the kids and I succeeded to find a suitable person called Bokul who would get paid on monthly basis. Probably I was fortunate to find the right person as a mentor.
The kids were lurking around us. I advised the teacher, ‘First of all, pre-pave the young minds before they start their education. There is no need to start teaching them right away, give them a treat, and have a friendly chat with them. You will see, they will easily be tempted once you promise them a candy.’ My strategy worked instantly. I told myself; settle down kids, you will soon realize why you came here. You will be trapped in the world of education.
It was unfortunate that most of them got parasitic worms. It would be necessary to get a doctor for them and it was not my desire to have a doctor who would do the treatment and remain unpaid. Because there would be a constant need for a doctor.
I noticed that the teacher was keenly interested to teach them. I told him, ‘I don’t want you to teach them in a conventional way. I want to play some fun tricks with the kids. For example, you can put 16 candies in front of them and tell 15 kids to grab just one for each of them; if you find there is no candy left then something is wrong. At this point your job is to point out that someone has stolen. Make them realize that it is inappropriate and immoral to steal.’
The local people speak their dialect in a slow manner; they expressed their eagerness to receive education and asked me whether I could arrange their education.
I felt a rush of excitement inwardly and said to myself, cheers! This was exactly what I wanted, to establish an adult school. But I was not sure where or how to start it. I was particularly delighted that I was getting the good things that were beyond my expectation!
I suppressed my enthusiasm and responded with a neutral expression, ‘Well, I shall consider this possibility in future but let the kid’s school run properly first and foremost. There will be no need for the text books or exercise booklets for the kids. All you have to do is to send them to school right at every day. That would be your only job for now. The old men nodded their head altogether saying, “Certainly, certainly”. Being impressed by their positive attitude I assured them by saying, ‘All the arrangements will be made for your education’. They chuckled in reply showing their remaining teeth. I enquired, ’How many of you want to start?’ They confirmed me there will be at least ten people. That is quiet a large number! I have decided that the children can get their education in the morning and the old folks in the evening.
I was taking a walk to home. I didn’t care how joyful they were, no time to give a thought about them. I was much more occupied by my own happiness right at that moment-couldn’t tell whether I was walking or floating! What else in this world could be compared with such euphoria that I was feeling, it was beyond my knowledge, wish I could know that mystery of joy. Who knows, if I remain conscious at the very moment of my death; these happy memories will help me to reduce the torments of death.
On my way home I saw one 7/8 years old unclothed child was taking a bath in torrential shower of water. Even the samba dance would seem boring to his dance! What is the difference between this child’s happy world and my own world of bliss? I could not find any contrast and I am certainly not looking for any.
*Translated from Canada by Tithi
**Link (স্বপ্ন, চার: আপডেট): http://www.ali-mahmed.com/2010/06/blog-post_14.html