Your first day at school

first day at school

I remember that first cry of yours – an angry squeal, as if to ask, “Why are you taking me away from my mother?” How tiny you were then! You seemed so fragile! You were so beautiful! I remember how proud your father and I were of you, our own little twin daughters! You were a miracle of life! We could hardly believe that two such perfect babies belonged to us!

Slowly you grew. Days turned to weeks, weeks to months. From helpless babes you grew to an awareness of things and people around you. I remember the endless nights when the two of you took turns to sleep and I would wonder if you would ever sleep at the same time.

I enjoyed holding your soft warm bodies, cuddling you close to my heart. How I loved those first delighted smiles and coos, crawls and stumbles!

Slowly you grew, learnt to crawl and walk and with each new month, you learnt new skills; and with each new thing you learnt, you grew a little independent of me. You no longer needed me to hold your hand as you ran around the house. You no longer needed me to play beside you. You could now eat by yourselves and make yourselves understood, yet I did not feel sad, because I was still the centre of your world. When ever anything frightened you or seemed threatening, you immediately rushed to seek shelter in my arms. You still willingly believed everything I told you. “Mummy can never be wrong,” was your firm belief.

You made me feel so needed! You showed me the meaning of life! You showed me all the silver linings behind the clouds and all the pots of gold at the end of the rainbow!

Today you are going to school for the first time! How sweetly serious you look in your smart uniforms, with your school bags and shoes! As I look at you, my heart contracts with mixed feelings – of pride and sadness. Pride because you are going to learn to take part in social life and sadness because from now on I will no longer be the centre of your world. That little world of ours must, of necessity, be destroyed in order that you learn to live in the bigger, wider world beyond. Now no longer will my word be law. Now I will hear statements like, “But Mummy, teacher says….” Some unknown person is going to take over the task of molding your little minds.

And you so sweetly say, “Don’t worry, Mummy. We won’t cry for you. We will go to school by ourselves.” Oh, how those words hurt! I feel like sitting down and crying my heart out. But no, I must smile and be cheerful as I explain to you what a great adventure going to school is.

Your grandmother looks on and smiles a little nostalgically. She pats my shoulder and says, “The greatest pain of a mother is to see her children grow. As the year keep coming, the distance keeps growing and the pain keeps increasing. But so does the pride and satisfaction. I guess where there is love there is always pain and if there is no pain in letting go there is no love.”

This was written 24 years ago, when my twins went to school for the first time. But I guess the feelings would still hold true for mothers today.

Note: This is part 2/4 of the Letting you Fly Series.

To read more

Part 1: Letting You Fly

Part 3: And You Fly!

Part 4: To be Announced

Letting You Fly

 

playground_giraffe

We reached the garden. You saw the gigantic metal giraffe painted in red and yellow and green. Colours designed to attract every little soul who entered the garden. Without warning you left my hand and ran to the giraffe. Before I realised it your feet were on the first rungs of the bars that made it up. And you started climbing. I don’t really know how tall that thing was. But to my fear numbed brain it seemed at least 10 feet high. And there you were a tiny little thing, just past your second birthday, trying to climb up as fast as you could.

I opened my mouth to shout and call you back down, when I caught your father’s eye and he just shook his head to stop me. I understood what he meant. We had made a pact that we would never stop you from exploring, from learning by doing. We had promised ourselves that we would give you the freedom to grow, to fly, to touch the sky. And now that it seemed that you were actually trying to reach for the sky, I could only stand there paralysed with fear, watching you as you climbed higher and higher. And as you reached higher all that I could think of was that it was a longer way to fall. I had visions of broken bones and worse.

Dad in the meantime positioned himself beneath the monster, encouraging you and telling you where to place your feet. His presence there gave you the confidence to go right to the very top, secure in the knowledge that Daddy was there to catch you if you fell.  You finally reached the top and squealed with delighted laughter. I could not help but laugh with you, as tears streamed down my face.

You climbed back down with Dad guiding you and the minute you reached the ground, I swooped you up into a hug that hid all my anxiety. And then so sweetly and innocently you asked me, “Mamma, why are you crying?” I answered you with what I now realise was the truth, “Because I am so proud of you.”

Note: This is part 1/4 of the Letting you Fly Series.

To read more

Part 2: Your first day at school

Part 3: And You Fly!

Part 4: To be Announced

 

How The Magic Began!

poster feelings on writing 2

 

A long time ago, a young girl turned 13.

“A great age to be,” everyone said.

“What’s so great about it?” she wondered, “I am the same….no change from 12 and a half to 13.”

“Oh, you don’t know,” they said. “13 is a magical year! Things happen!” they whispered mysteriously.”

But the girl shook her head and smiled. She knew all about false hopes and broken promises. And anyway, magic never happened to ordinary dull girls like her who couldn’t even get up the courage to speak for themselves.

No, magic happened to Sabrina, her sister. Even her name was magic, like the teenage witch. Sabrina had been born on a full moon day, fair with hair flowing down to her shoulders. Till date her hair had never been cut.

But as for herself, she had been born dark and ordinary….just a baby girl…no magic…nothing extraordinary.

But true magic was her youngest sister…Janice…the cutest baby with the most adorable dimples and huge melt your heart brown eyes.

Looking at the baby, suddenly words started forming in her mind and joining together, they created magic….A poem…..a perfectly magical poem

The words arrived….tumbling over each other…from some unknown place…. forming new sentences… ….creating a picture…as perfect in her mind as her little sister!

The words flowed on and on and continue flowing till today, bringing with them admiration and applause.

Yes, that day I  discovered my own magic, the magic of writing!

How I became a teacher

how-i-became-a-teacher

I was all of fourteen. It was the 5th of September, 1979, Teacher’s Day. I was in the tenth standard and as usual the teachers had gone for a picnic, leaving us, the tenth standard students to run the school.

I was in charge of the kindergarten. I had been told to ensure that all the kids wrote down the alphabet. Everyone complied, except one little girl, Monica. She just stared sulkily at her note book. When I asked her why she was not writing, she just shook her head stubbornly, without saying a word.

But the rest of the class yelled out, “She can’t write. She is a dumb head.”

I was shocked to hear these little five year olds talk like that. “Who says she is a dumb head?” I asked.

“Our teacher, Miss Margaret,” they replied.

I felt an uncontrollable surge of anger towards Miss Margaret. “How can anyone call a baby a dumb head?” I wondered as I looked at little Monica who had hung her head in shame.

I put my arm around her and said, “You are not a dumb head. You are my friend. And so friend, tell me, what do you like to do?”

She looked up at me with eyes round in surprise and not a little fear. Then she whispered, “I like to draw.”

“And what do you like to draw?”

“Houses”, she said.

“Okay”, I told her, “Let’s see. If you can draw your ABC just like I am doing, I will let you draw a picture of a house for me. I will take that picture home and keep it on my fridge. Okay?”

Still full of wonderment, she nodded and “drew” the alphabet neatly in her book. After that she drew a beautiful house and garden for me.

I showed her book around the class and said, “See, Monica is not a dumb head. She is an artist.”

The beatific smile on the child’s face was all the reward in the world.

This was my first experience of how we as teachers can make or break a child. All it needs is a few words to build up someone’s confidence and confidence is a mighty motivator.

I tasted power that day in that kindergarten classroom. I realized that I had the power to change the way a person thinks about himself. I could make people believe in themselves. I could help people succeed.

And in that moment was born my dream. I decided there and then that I would be a teacher… not of academic subjects but a teacher who would teach people to be confident and believe in themselves. I would help people succeed in life.

Note: This was originally posted on the Shiksha Power Blog and is republished here.