Monday, May 3, 2010

Peace At Last

Bhuri Bai and Panchi Bai are my prize students. Recently, a young Meera Bai joined their ranks, reading diligently from their Hindi intro book. A few young kids sit in their midst, correcting identification errors. This allows me to focus on the beginner learners. However, the problem with newbees is that they get bored easily. A certain motivation that comes with recognition hasn't infected them yet. As a result they just want to learn names: their sons, daughters, husbands, villages, and most importantly their own name. Which is fine by me, because it substitutes for a let's-get-to- know-you-better conversation.

Panchi and Bhuri are in a league of their own. They went above and beyond today, displaying a true love of learning. Everyone left at 1 pm to go home, but those two stayed back, memorizing the third quarter of the Hindi alphabet. With everyone gone there was no need to scream over crying babies, arguing women, or children "Madamji"ing persistently to obtain a slate. It was quiet, how a classroom might be in the conventional sense. Nikhil suggested getting them small copies they can practice in at home. After two days of visible changes in adult education I expected the same in the silai classes. It was not to be.

The sewing machine needed desperate fixing. For the past two days now, the little metal bobbin refused to cooperate. So Shantaji improvised her class. Yesterday, the girls learned how to hem handkerchiefs. Today, their new Madamji taught them how to stitch hooks and hook-eyes for their blouses. The girls practiced on their long skirts, picking an inconspicuous spot to sew a hook on. Occasionally, one heard a Where'd my needle go? In her calm but firm tone Shantaji explained how to keep the needle from being misplaced. Tie it on your dupatta, like this. She showed them. Nikhil and I decided to take the machine to Bhilwara and get it repaired. We returned triumphantly in the evening. A large meal of dal baati awaited us at Shantaji's home.

Exhausted from a day of traveling, stomach bursting with food, I was looking forward to lying on the charpai back at home. Within minutes of coming upstairs Lakshmi, Radhyshyam, Mithu, and Jasodha paid us a visit. Sitting with the kids my fatigue disappeared. Nikhil dealt with Lakshmi's boundless energy by occupying her with sketching animals. I picked Jasodha's brain by transcribing a few folks songs she sung so well at the recent wedding celebrations.

An hour passed quickly. We would have continued were it not for Nandram's thundering voice commanding his children to come downstairs. They meekly obliged. I lay on the charpai and started at the dark sky. At last. Peace.

1 comment:

  1. Its so peaceful, the feeling of contentment in this post. Good Job. We are so proud of you both.

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