April 26, 2011

To live with a smile..

        Mrs. Sheikh was tired of the long day at school. Children are incarnations of God it is said, she wondered how they  turned into devils the moment they entered school. In an Indian school the teacher to students ratio is an average 1:60.. After managing the class for 5 hours of the school , she could barely speak.  She sometimes felt trapped in her profession which was a weird combination of her dreamy and poetic nature( she was English language teacher) and the constant shouting and warnings she had to give to keep the class in order.
        It was late into the night and she was still checking the English papers. It was a mechanical job for her. They were all the same. It was 7th grade paper she was checking and yet she knew they would all be the byhearted compositions from the same book albeit with different spelling mistakes. Only Maths and Science were the subjects studied seriously in a nation obsessed with Medicine and Engineering profession. The next paper in her hand was written in a neat handwriting. The topic for the composition was "A rainy day". Every single paper so far had the same element," I sailed boats, went out in raincoat," etc etc.. But this one started differently..
       A rainy day..
It was cloudy since morning, but with not a drop of rain. Father was reading the morning newspaper and I was doing my homework. A few drops of rain trickled on the window pane. I went outside and in no time it started raining. I went out into the verandah. Mother was praying to the "tulsi" plant we had in the verandah. She rushed inside when it started raining. I took this opportunity to bring out my football and started playing football in the wet grass. Father came out and couldn't resist joining me. Seeing us both playing in the rain, Mother shouted out "Come inside, you both will catch cold". Father was enjoying as much as I. We both pulled in Mother too. We all were drenched in the first rain of the season. Mother too joined in the play. We laughed and had fun. Mother went early. Father and I went home much later. When we dried ourselves clean and came into the dining room, mother had already prepared hot bhajjis and ginger tea. We ate and sat contended. The rain continued till the afternoon. I was watching it from the window. The veradah smelled of the sweet scent of soil. The trees lustred rich green. It was a beautiful day.

"What a lovely family" she thought. She longed to be in the verandah of this boy's house. It had been years since she read something original and beautiful. She had to meet this boy. He had made her day. She went to sleep happily.
  She looked over the muster. The boy Vivek Bose had been absent for a few days. She could not wait to see him. She took his address from the school office and went to see him. She was shocked when she reached the address. She was anticipating a beautiful cozy home with a tulsi plant in the verandah, but the awaiting her was a dry ground in front of a decent housing named..
                  "Don Bosco's Boys Orphanage"
She asked the father of the center for the boy.
Vivek Bose... now she remembered. The irregular student at school. She watched as he walked with crutches. He had polio.
 "Ma'am you wanted to see me?"
Those innocent large eyes of that crippled, fragile body made her heart bleed.
"Beta why are you not coming to school?"
"Oh Ma'am you came to ask me that. That is so caring of you." His eyes beamed with joy.
"I was having fever and the sisters here take great care of me. They don't let me go to school when I fall ill." He added with a smile.
"Tell me Beta were you always here or you lived somewhere else?" She knew it was too blunt to ask a child that but she could not yet believe what she saw.
"Yes Ma'am this is my house. I never saw my parents." There was a hint of sadness in his eyes.
She hugged him tight as the tears flooded her eyes.
"You write beautifully my child. You are gifted.. not just with writing skill but with a positive spirit and the love of divine." She wholeheartedly believed it. He was special. He had the ability to touch lives.
"Thank you Ma'am. I have to go now. It's prayer time."
"See you in school child." She sent a thousand prayers for this child.

She saw him walking high spiritedly into the prayer hall. He seemed to be at peace with his crutches. She believed this boy had forgiven God for the injustice done to him...

He taught her what it is to live with a smile...


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