“You go. I will take care of him”, I said as she left with a heavy heart and wet eyes. While I walked him down to the office, I was confused and moved simultaneously. He was suffering from severe stomach ache which I had dismissed earlier. “Please call his parents and ask them to pick him up”, I requested the school admin who then took charge and asked the kid to sit down while she made the call.
I was born with a certain set of luxuries that most of my kids don’t enjoy. I find it very difficult to understand their intricate and delicate issues because I have never known for them to exist in the first place; I’m a koop mandook, to borrow a phrase from one of my senior colleagues. I have enjoyed the luxury of choice, of having an opinion, of attention and many more such subtleties of an upper middle class life. To come out of that and witness the world is not just overwhelming but also scary at times. But change is not easy, I knew that!
I try my best to expose my kids to the worlds they are unaware of with the intention of widening their horizon. Whenever I do, we end up discussing the various systems and structures within that world which leads to a healthy debate over the problems and their solutions. A bunch of over excited nine-year olds calling money flow in the market a form of barter system is very inspiring. Yes, I am proud of where these kids are headed! Of course they have miles to go but I believe they have chosen the right path (for now!).
We always advise people to find solutions to the problem, within the system. Many try their luck at bending the structures to meet their needs, while some manage to beat the system itself. Education is a major problem in our country. What starts in our policies rarely reaches the ground. This being the case, most of us have to try and work our way around the system (sometimes bend or beat it even). In the process, we manage to propel quite a few students towards “success”. Yes, ours is a success story, success of overcoming the system!
His sister raced down the corridor to see him. I followed her cautiously knowing nothing about what happened to the kid I had asked to lie down and rest. Her eyes widened at the sight of her brother. His eyes were moist and red. I could see every expression take its form on her face. It moved from surprise to concern and then to helplessness. She hugged him and stroked his hair gently asking him to calm down while he wept profusely. She did not know what to do. She was not aware of her right to request the teacher to send him home, she was not aware of her right to ask for first aid, she was not even aware of her right to ask someone for help. Neither was he, a boy who had had the TFI way of education. They both just wept together in each other’s arms. I have never seen such unconditional love, never! Their helplessness made it even more painful to watch.
As I sunk back on the bench, a million thoughts raced through my mind. What was she trying to do? Didn’t she know what to do? Or did she just choose not to act on it? Was she scared of the system around her which would probably shrug her away or was she just plain unaware of the possibilities? Whatever it was, I don’t know what I am teaching the kids any more. What am I to teach these budding souls? To break the system by employing cheap off the shelf tricks? To beat the system with their superior knack for shrewd decisions? Or to create a system of their own? What is “success” really?
Whatever may be my next step, I know one thing for sure now, love is where everything must start!