Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Real Superheroes

Once upon a time there lived a monster named Cancer. And you all know rest of the story. Many of us would have seen it's worst faces. I know it's not a pleasant topic to discuss. But life is not only about pleasant things right? It's the imperfect mixture. I believe these stories could act as aids to uplift ourselves in similar situations. They remind us about the significance of hope and endurance. 

The Unseen and Untold

In 1990's cancer was a terminal disease and was not so known to all in detail as now. When I was in 7th grade, all that I knew about it was, this illness was incurable. Till then I've never seen or heard anyone who had cancer. My life was surrounded with cancerless people and talks. 

That year, 7th grade; our Maths teacher entered into the class with so much grace. Math is my most hated subject till date. So I really don't remember most of my Math teachers as well. But in contrary, this one I will never ever! Brijith teacher, Maths-Grade VII. Her first impression on me was quite appealing. Somehow I liked her looks. Someone can not describe her as 'beautiful' but her unique style and grace made her stand out from others. She was in her 30's. Short, light skinned, not so fat but plumpy and curvy, straight silky hair always tied in to a bun, thin black spectacles, perfectly ironed and pinned saree pleats. Her curvy body structure made her flaunt in any type of saree. In total, she looked interesting to me. You know, for girls the looks of a teacher is more appealing than anything else. 

She never worn any kind of accessories but that did not lessen her grace at all. Afterall why gild the lilly! She was strict with students. And I was not that student who jostled to talk to the teachers unnecessarily. I was more of an ambivort. In the classroom I acted like an introvert especially in Math classes. But my urge to talk to her or atleast to have a feather touch was burning inside. I guess most of us would have had this feeling towards your favourite teacher. It's nothing but the mere admiration and curiosity. I rubbed my fingers gently on her saree pallu(the loose end) when she walked between the gangways of boys and girls in the class. Like me, most of the girl gangs from seventh grade were her ardent fans. 

One day during lunch break Neetha, my classmate ran into the classroom with some breaking news. She called out for the girls crew for a secret conference. She had gone to staff room to submit her Math homework and what she got from there was something shocking! Brijith teacher was a cancer survivor, breast cancer! Neetha was like a radio receiver. She caught news from air just like that and most of them turned out to be true. Hence no one disbelieved her. It seems Sujatha teacher and Brijith teacher were having a chit chat and she listened in to. It was the first time cancer came so near to me. In the next classes we began to observe her in detail. We didn't know about transplantation on those days. There were much discussions going on. Whatever it was, for me she was a real survivor, a super woman! Somebody who won against a real monster...!


All I Saw and Perceived...

This is the story of a young hero, a boy who fought the monster...

I was the eldest in my mother's family. Eldest children in a family usually have the virtue to be loved the most. And I can tell I am one of them. I had a minimum of 4 years difference with my other maternal cousins. My mother has one sister and one brother who are younger to her. My uncle has one son, and others one girl and one boy accordingly. All three boys are of same age including my brother. They three acted like three idiots always fighting with the only two girls, especially me. As I was much elder I usually didn't give up and fought against them with full power. I had big fights mostly with my uncle's son. I even have criminal records in family for twisting his small finger during one such fight. So, you can imagine the scenes. But, as and when we grew I was blessed with such lovely brothers. Our fights transformed into best friendships. 

Life went on and 16 years later, the youngest member of our family arrived as a gift. He was my uncle's second son. He was the cutest and naughtiest of all of us. He was loved by all the big brothers and sisters so much. Being the eldest and youngest we shared only one thing in common- we were the most loved in the entire family. When you are the first child in the family you are lucky enough to be loved so much by all because you are the first baby. The same happens when you are the youngest in your family especially if you are born with a huge age gap. 
I still remember those days when he was a toddler. He was quite naughty and never listened to anyone. If we really wanted to make him do something then we had to give an opposite instruction. One such incident happened like this. One day he threw all of our slippers outside which were lying on the front porch. My grandfather happened to see this and he warned him this way, "very good job honey! If I see any of those slippers on my porch again... that's it! I will show you ahhhh..." The moment he went inside, our hero ran outside and threw all the slippers back into the porch. I nearly died laughing that day! Another thing what he was interested in was spitting on face if you try to carry him. He was such a plumpy and  adorable pie that no one could resist lifting him up. He was an active boy who wanted to run around the house like a rat. I have got much spat on my face as I was so attracted to kids of that age. So we called him funny names like "thuppalaakshan" and all. That's all still stays in my memory. 

As I told earlier, we had a huge age gap of 16 years! As he grew up I was sent to hostel to hostel for my higher studies. I did not get much time to spend with him like my other cousins. He had a connection with all of them except me. Because, either they stayed close to each other's house or they used to have meet ups often. Also the family partition system literally partitioned our family. Though, we children still keep the bonding strong. But, the big siblings of the house fought each other like kids. Most of these cases, if you observe closely you will find something common. It is not the siblings who fight but it's their spouses! 

Our visits to my uncle's house got cut down. So, there were very less chances for me to get to know the young lad. But after my marriage whenever we came home I got to see all of them again. Me and my husband's family always visits all the relatives whenever it is possible. At times, we may feel relatives are so irritating and irrelevant. It's normal especially when you are young. No family is perfect. But it's always good to maintain relationships by keeping the limit in mind. Being too close and too far both are risky. You need to be in the middle of the bridge to have healthy relationships. Relationships are very fragile. If you are too close you may loose them. If you are too far they might loose you. So keep them in one arm distance; the safe zone. You are neither interfering in their lives nor you are allowing them to enter into yours. See, these things you need to learn from our elders, I mean from their mistakes ;). So that we can stop history repeating itself. 

Anyways, I was lucky enough to meet them all once again. They too never showed faces. But, when I met him years later he was not what I expected. I was looking for that same naughty boy whom I used to carry. I was therefore surprised to see a soft spoken, timid teenager. I was astonished to find a young mridangam aspirant (mridangam is a percussion instrument accompanied in Carnatic music ensemble). His mridangam skills were great and I even wished to dance along. Some wishes are untold and unfulfilled and that's what make them special.

I guess while he was in his 8th grade they spotted recurring head aches. In the beginning the local doctors ignored it as common ailment. But then one day it got seriously hit everyone when he didn't answer from his room for almost an hour. He said he slept off. That was the red flag. They approached another physician and conducted more tests. Later he was diagnosed with brain tumor. When I came to know about it through my mother and her sister, it was a shock of my life. Imagine about the family then. I didn't know much about that timid teenager but I did know the naughty three years old boy who threw slippers back to the porch. I didn't want to loose him. Though they had fights in family, everyone together prayed for him. Whenever my mom spoke about how his studies were affected, how the treatment was going on her voice trembled. Chemotherapies left him with a pale face, little hair and speech difficulties. But he fought well. He was back in action. He proceeded with his studies too. We were relieved that he has recovered. 

While, the monster reappeared in our family thrice again. My chitta(mother's sister) was diagnosed with Cervical cancer, her son-in-law with brain tumor and one of my second cousins of my same age with breast cancer. I really don't know what triggers this monster! No one knows exactly. Fortunately, they all are doing well and still around us as the epitomes of hope!


The Theory Of Unseen

All these times I was just an observer. I was just standing there and watching, nothing more I did. I have this problem which I don't like in me and I still don't know how to go about it. I am really bad at handling a situation of serious illness or death of someone close to me. I try to avoid talking about it. I fail to console someone or myself verbally in such circumstances. I prefer silence or to divert the topic. Surprisingly my pen could do the job which my tongue couldn't do. Anytime I could do this through my writings. That's what you are scrolling through now.

Meanwhile, I happened to build my own convenient theory when my lovable grandfather passed away. I was deeply connected with him more than anyone else. One of my undergraduation days woke me up with the message of his demise. With the telephone receiver hanging down I stood there like a statue tears rolling down, until my hostel warden felt something wrong and shook me hard. It was a sudden death; cardiac arrest. So it took time for me to digest the reality. They sent somebody to pick me up that day as my hostel was quite far. By the time I reached the body cremation was started. So, I couldn't get to see him for the last time. It felt bad at that moment but that made me experience something else. As I didn't see him lying down lifeless, in my mind he is still alive the way I wanted him to be. I had only those warm memories of him which were the happiest. Though the old house is demolished, sitting here far from my native I feel that he is still living there in that house fighting with grandma just to make us laugh... That's when I discovered my 'Theory of Unseen.' I realised that, if you don't get a chance to see someone in their last days of death you tend to forget the truth that they are no more. Your mind convinces your heart that the person is living somewhere happily ever after. 

From that time, I had tried to apply this theory whenever possible. I had not attended any funerals in my family later on; even my grandmother's! Staying far away always been helpful that way. Unavailability of tickets became excuses many times. Though I feel bad that moment, later I am happy about those pleasant memories which only I could cherish forever without any shadows of death. In my memories they all are healthy, happy, smiling forever. It may sound crazy and absurd for you. I am sure, after reading this many fingers are going to point out towards me. I remember sharing the idea of my theory once with my brother. He exclaimed and shot a question in turn, "Oh, will you not come to see me when I die?" I was thinking over it though I couldn't find an answer! Who knows who will bid a goodbye first, right? The most unpredictable thing in this world! I would rather prefer no one to see my frozen face as I fear it would take over all the happy moments and mostly my pale face would linger in your mind whenever you think of me. Of course, I don't like it that way! 


The Second Wave

Apparently the monster was cooking up a storm in his kitchen. We were worried to know that inspite of all the therapies and medications the monster had rooted those cells in his brain immutably. His brother who was working abroad flew back home leaving everything behind only to look after his little bro. The age gap of almost ten years made the elder one caring him like a small kid. They were like one soul ever. He was ready to go to any extent to save his little soul. Infection spread all over. Those hospital days must have been hard. He fought and fought for almost few months. Then he came back home dreadfully only to be in ventilator. No one was permitted to enter his room except palliative caretakers. My mom went to see him once. She stood near the door and peeped inside. She told me, "It was not him, definitely not. Am sure he is safe somewhere else!". I had no plans to visit him. I wanted to treasure that three year old naughty boy not the one whom my mother saw. 

And the day arrived he became the real superhero. He left us may be to defeat the monster in the other side of the world. He will be healthier and safer there. Twenty one years of journey ended there. When the message reached me, I had the same old experience once again. The one I had gone through years back in my hostel. 
I applied my 'Theory of Unseen' once more... Am letting it all go now. 

This is a memorabilia of my youngest brother who was unknown to me !

I know, this too was tad long like my previous one. Excuse me, for I write from my heart and there is quite a lot in there! When it gets heavier I pour it over here... :)










Friday, October 9, 2020

ഒരു ശോഭാ രാത്രി


ഇന്നലെ രാത്രി ഒരു 11.45 ന് ഉറക്കം വരാതെ കിടന്നപ്പോൾ വെറുതെ ഒന്ന് നടക്കാനിറങ്ങിയാലോ എന്നൊരു തോന്നൽ. അസമയത്തു ആവശ്യമില്ലാത്ത ഓരോരോ തോന്നലുകൾ കേറി വന്നോളും. ആ ഒരൊറ്റ തോന്നലിൽ ഇറങ്ങി അങ്ങ് പോന്നു. പാതി ഉറക്കത്തിലും സ്നേഹ സമ്പന്നനായ ഭർത്താവ്, "ഈ പാതിരാത്രി നടക്കാൻ പോണോ മോളെ?" എന്ന് നൂറു വട്ടം ചോദിച്ചതാ... കേട്ടില്ല. "വരുന്നുണ്ടെലേ വാ മനുഷ്യാ" എന്നും പറഞ്ഞ് ചാടിതുള്ളി ഇറങ്ങി. 

17th wing ന്റെ പടിയും കടന്ന് പാർക്കിന്റെ സൈഡിലൂടെ തണുത്ത കാറ്റത്ത് മൂളിപ്പാട്ടും പാടി നടക്കുമ്പോൾ "ശ്ശെടാ... അങ്ങേരിത് മിസ്സ് ചെയ്തല്ലോ" എന്നോർത്ത് ഉള്ളിൽ ചിരി പൊട്ടി. നടക്കാൻ അധികം ആളില്ല ഇന്ന്. ഒന്നോ രണ്ടോ പേർ വായുഗുളിക വാങ്ങാനെന്ന പോലെ പാഞ്ഞു പോയി. കിഴക്കു ഭാഗത്തുളള ഇല്ലിമുളം കാടും കടന്നു മുന്നോട്ട് പിന്നെയും നടന്നു. സെക്യൂരിറ്റി ചേട്ടനെ അടുത്തെങ്ങും കാൺമാനില്ല. അത് പിന്നെ ആവശ്യത്തിനു നോക്കിയാൽ കിട്ടുന്ന ഒന്നല്ലല്ലോ ശോഭയിൽ! പതിമൂന്നാം wing ലേക്ക് കടന്നപ്പോൾ മുതൽ നല്ല ഒരു സുഗന്ധം നാസാദ്വാരങ്ങളിലേക്ക് ഇരച്ചു കയറി. ഇൗ പാതിരാത്രി ഇതാരണപ്പാ പെർഫ്യൂം കട തുറന്നു വച്ചിരിക്കണത്! ആസ്വദിച്ചു നടന്നു പതിനാലിന്റെ മുന്നിൽ എത്തിയപ്പോ ദാണ്ടെ നിക്കണ് പഴയ കൂട്ടുകാരി മുന്നിൽ!! "എടീ... നീ ഇവിടെ ആണോ താമസം? " എന്ന് തുടങ്ങി പിന്നെ കുറച്ച് അല്ല ഇച്ചിരി അധികം നേരം പാതിരാ സൊറ പറഞ്ഞു ചിരിച്ചു. ഇയ്യോ! സമയം പന്ത്രണ്ടര കഴിഞ്ഞു. അങ്ങേരിപ്പോ രണ്ടുറക്കം കഴിഞ്ഞു കാണും. പോണെന് മുന്ന് നമുക്കൊരു സെൽഫി എടുത്താലോ? രണ്ടു പെണ്ണുങ്ങൾ ഒരുമിച്ച് കൂടിയാൽ സെൽഫി എടുക്കാണ്ട് പൂവാന്നെച്ചാ അതിൽ കൂടുതൽ സങ്കടം വേറെന്തുണ്ട്! തൊട്ടടുത്ത് കണ്ട മരത്തിന്റെ ചോട്ടിൽ നിന്ന് ഒരു സെൽഫീം എടുത്തു അവളോട് ടാറ്റാ പറഞ്ഞു തിരിച്ചോടി വീട്ടിൽക്കേറി. 

കൂട്ടുകാരിയെ കണ്ട വിശേഷം പറയാൻ ഉറങ്ങിക്കിടന്ന കണവനെ കുത്തി എണീപ്പിച്ചു മൊബൈലിലെ സെൽഫി കാണിക്കാൻ എടുത്തതും എന്റെ ഉള്ളിലൊരു കൊള്ളിയാൻ മിന്നി!! എന്റെ പൊന്നും കുരിശു മാതാവേ... സെൽഫിയിൽ പ്രിയപ്പെട്ട കൂട്ടുകാരിയുടെ ഭാഗത്ത് വെറും വായു മാത്രം! ഇവളെവിടെപോയി?!! എനിക്ക് കയ്യും കാലും വിറക്കാൻ തുടങ്ങി. ദേ, മനുഷ്യനേ ഇങ്ങോട്ട് നോക്കിക്കേ... അങ്ങേർക്ക് ഒറങ്ങാൻ കണ്ട നേരം. കണ്ണും തിരുമ്മി എണീറ്റ് ഫോട്ടോ നോക്കി അങ്ങേരു പറഞ്ഞത് കേട്ട് ഞാൻ, പടച്ചോനെ... ഇങ്ങള് കാത്തോലീന്നും പറഞ്ഞു കട്ടിലേന്നൊരു ചാട്ടം. എന്താ പുള്ളി പറഞ്ഞെന്ന് കേൾക്കണോ? "പാതിരാത്രി പാലമരത്തിന്റെ ചോട്ടിൽ നിന്ന് തന്നെ വേണം സെൽഫി എടുക്കാൻ. അല്ലാ, കൂട്ടുകാരി എവിടെ പോയി?" !!! അപ്പോ അത് യക്ഷിമണം ആയിരുന്നോ എന്റെ ഭഗവതീ!! 
അവളെ ഫോൺ വിളിച്ച് ചോദിക്കാം എന്ന് വച്ചാ, ഫോൺ നമ്പർ പോയിട്ട് ഒരു തെങ്ങാക്കൊലേം എന്റെ കയ്യിൽ ഇല്ല. അപ്പോഴേ, ആ വഴി നടക്കുമ്പോ നിങ്ങളൊക്കെ തോടിന്റെ വക്കത്ത് പൂത്തു നിൽക്കണ പാല ചേച്ചിയെ ഒന്ന് സൂക്ഷിക്കണത് നല്ലതാ..!

ഏഴിലം പാല പൂത്തു ... പൂമരങ്ങൾ കുട പിടിച്ചു... ശോഭ ഡ്രീം ഏകേഴ്‌സിൽ! 13, 14 wing-ലുള്ളവർക്ക് ഒരു യക്ഷി മണം അടിക്കുന്നുണ്ടോ?

Friday, October 2, 2020

രാഷ്ട്രീയം

ആനവണ്ടി തൻ പച്ച സീറ്റിനടിയിൽ 
ഒളിപ്പിച്ചു വച്ചൊരു വടിവാളുമോങ്ങി എന്നഗ്രജനൊരു വെളിച്ചപ്പാട് പോൽ ഓടിയതായിരുന്നെന്‍റെ രാഷ്ട്രീയം

ഓടുന്ന തീവണ്ടി തൻ ഏതോ
ബോഗിയിൽ തിരഞ്ഞു നീയന്നേതോ 
ഒരു തല തല്ലിപ്പൊളിച്ചതായിരുന്നെന്‍റെ രാഷ്ട്രീയം

ഇല്ലാത്ത ക്ലാസുകൾ ഇല്ലെന്നു
ചൊല്ലിയാ ജാഥ തന്നറ്റത്ത് നീ
കൊടികൾ പിടിച്ചു കൈ ജയ്കൾ 
വിളിച്ചതായിരുന്നെന്റെ രാഷ്ട്രീയം

ചുവപ്പും നീലയും കൊടികൾ തൻ
യുദ്ധത്തിനവസാനം വെള്ള പുതപ്പിച്ചു
കിടത്തിയൊരെൻ ജീവനാം ജ്യേഷ്ഠനെ കണ്ട നാൾ അവസാനിച്ചതാണെന്‍റെ രാഷ്ട്രീയം!!








Saturday, September 5, 2020

A souvenir of love - Chapter 1


I usually write blogs in my native language Malayalam because I feel emotionally connected to that more than any other. There is a comfort and my expressions are more profound while writing in that language. This happens may be because I was a Malayalam medium student and English came to me as an acquired language where I had to overcome many hardships to learn it. Am still learning. However this one I decided to write in English as I want all my fellow colleagues to read and relate. I wish to reach out to most of the parents as well. So, I hereby take an anticipatory bail in order to the same!

On this September 5th, Teacher's day I dedicate this blog to the teaching fraternity with much respect, gratitude and loads of love. A huge shout-out to those teachers who understand their students, who doesn't differentiate between their students, who still believe in compassion, who have not given up hope on the worst child in their class... This is a small gesture of gratitude from my side for all those wonderful souls. I thank all my co-teachers who had given me tremendous support throughout the years. I would be definitely writing about them in the upcoming chapters. To tell you the truth, I have also met with teachers who were lethargic and temperamental which is not advisable for pre-primary level. Let's talk about them later. I would rather prefer to have more of positivity today.

If you are a teacher, this is for you to cherish and sonder. If you are a parent, you must read this to know your child's teacher and probably what your child might be doing in his/her class. And if you don't have a child yet, please read this so that you will feel relieved and relaxed (trust me! no need of Yoga and Yogam for you today! You will definitely say "Oh God! am saved...") I am sure, least of all you could take your mind for a walk to your old school days! 

Once a teacher always a teacher! That's how it is. The memories are countless. I want to keep each one of them close to my heart. Every teacher (especially those are teaching in lower grades, though I do have a few for higher grades too) would be able to relate even to the tiny bits of these episodes!

Children are innocent, funny, naughty and sometimes agitating as well. During my teaching tenure (though it's not a long period), I had encountered many of these kind. I bet you too did. Some were unforgettable and chucklesome. Some were totally rib-tickling. Some were eye opening. Some were heart wrenching. Some were misty. I would love to save all those moments forever, hence these write ups. Just read and relax and my pleasure if you get motivated at any point. 

P.S : Dear Parents, This is not a blog to glorify teachers but it's all about children. This is to get to know them better and to let all know that there exist teachers with endless love and compassion. 
Dear teachers, at any point of time if you feel like reading anecdotes or remarks it's quite normal! Excuse me for that ;)


MOL (Moments Of Laughter)

The best thing about teaching in lower grades is you will get to see a lot of MOLs. These tiny ones are so innocent, non-judgmental and open as a sky. They are not worried about what others might think about them. That's what make them funny at times.  

You know that children are highly observative. When it comes to class, they observe their teachers and imitate a lot. Not only girls but also boys notice their teacher's clothings, earrings, watch, sandals etc. I do remember one boy told me once, "Ma'am your lipstick and dress colour is matching matching." 

Am gonna tell you the heights of observations. It was a day when we had co-ordinator's observation. If you are a teacher you might be knowing what are these observations. For those who don't know, I'll give you a miniature picture. Usually these are to understand how the classes are happening, whether teachers are following the curriculum, which are the areas the teacher lag behind and of course to know the students of that class. This happens without any prior notice. Anytime they can  come and observe our classes. So in short, this is where we get to score our marks. Exactly like you appear an exam most of the teachers will have symptoms like tension, stress, black out, trembling hands, raising pulse etc. How much ever your boss tries to comfort you, am sure there will be atleast a pinch of stress remaining inside. And another truth is, the real class differs from the observation class as you tend to loose your natural way of teaching if you are being watched by someone. 

This incident happened during one such observations in our class where the word 'observation' really came into life! My co-teacher was a perfectionist and in that process she used to get a bit more anxious during these observations. That day it was early morning, first period our boss(Co-ordinator) walked in to the class. She sat on teacher's chair. We three along with our 10 children in three different corners settled for some activity. My fellow teacher's corner was just next to the co-ordinator. Boss could clearly see and hear what's happening in her corner. This made her more tensed. At that moment, our inquisitive hero...(let's call him Manish) came up with an interesting doubt. "Ma'am, nice smell ma'am. Which cream you use? I like the smell very much ma'am."  

"Aiyaayoo... yen daa intha maathiri kezhviyellam kekkereenge? athum intha timile! unakkithellam thevayaadaa?" (why are you asking these kind of questions now? is it something important to ask now?) My friend exclaimed in her mind. Then whispered in his ears, "will tell you later darling. Now you complete the activity."  But he is not ready to leave the topic. "Tell ma'am please ma'am... which cream?" By this time she seemed like someone poured a bucket of hot water on her. Sweating all over, she thought it's better to tell this boy the name of the cream else for sure all ten are going to ask the same like sheeps. She muttered the cream name and told, "darling, today itself go and tell your mother to buy it." His mother was also a teacher from our school and this incident gave all of us a MOL together!

Vishal always had a jocular way of expressing his thoughts. He often added some witty comments to any topic in class. I remember once we were teaching about festivals and that day it was about Diwali. Teacher was narrating the story behind the festival i.e, about Lord Rama. The part came when Ravana abducted Sita. Teacher was getting too emotional and acting out the scenes with her heart and soul. Full drama going on. All of a sudden, Vishal interrupted with a very much thought provoking and practical question. 

"arrey, why can't she atleast give one slap on his face? ek laakh aise maar dena chahiye tha...(she should have given one strong whack...)" 

For a second, all of us were dumbstruck as we didn't know how to respond! We couldn't help but laugh for a moment but then, we appreciated the little human for showing his concern and giving that fantastic idea. How can we kill the fire inside him by telling his idea was not practically possible during those days and these are nothing but mythical stories.

While talking about mythology, another one came into my mind which was totally hilarious. This took place in the school bus. As usual the evening shuttle was more noisy. Sometimes to get some peace I make some of the chatty heads sit next to me so that I have a control on them. This story has one hero and two heroines. One of the heroines was my ex-student and other two were her friends. All three were first graders while this was taking place. As usual I was taking a nap and these three began murmuring. After sometime the murmuring became some kind of long-winded conversation. I was half asleep and could overhear their talks. Actually after a point I began to sneak peek at them ;).

Let my student name be Charvi (girl1), 
girl 2 be Tina and boy be Rishi. Let me tell you all three were outstanding in academics and possessed excellent linguistic skills. Come, let's overhear them, shhhh......! 

Rishi : "Tina, when I grow up I will marry you ok?"
Tina : "eee .... yeaaa..." (full happy)
Charvi : "What about me?? Am her friend. Why don't you marry me too?!" ( She is ok with him marrying her best friend. Only worry is why not her too?!!)
Rishi : "Oh! how can I marry two girls? that's not possible naaa..." (If given an option then definitely he would!)
Charvi : "Of course it is possible. You see, Krishna has more than ten thousand wives and Ganapathi also has two. Shiva too had. But she died. If they can have more than one why can't you?!"
Rishi : "Oh really!! Then I have no issues. I will marry you too.." (double happy)
Charvi and Tina seemed to be in great joy and gave hi-fi. (Hence proved 'best friends').

I just couldn't control my laugh and managed to have a giggle turning my head to the other side. I was looking for someone out there whom I could share this and laugh my tears out. But unfortunately there was only my bus aunty and driver uncle who were busy with their own tasks at hand. The gabby talks continued until one of them got down at the next stop. My adorable funny tiny tots!

Let's move to the next.

I remember one child who raised her hand during one of the storytelling session of "Monkeys and capseller". She was amused to find out that her father snores exactly same as the capseller!! We even had a mock snoring session later :) Children are keen observers and they share literally everything with their teachers! Beware parents ;)

Now, let me share few witty names here. These children had difficulty in pronouncing teacher's names and we always had fun listening to these.
Hold your breath and get ready for a good laugh :) 

P.S : (Please do not get offended if you see your name below. It is the children...not me!)

1. Co-ordinator Ma'am - Coriander Ma'am
2. Raman Ma'am - Rabad Ma'am (Rabad in Hindi means eraser)
3. Lakshmi Ma'am - Chapla Ma'am (that's my name)
4. Kakoli Ma'am - Thakali Ma'am 
5. Trilotna Ma'am - Anaconda Ma'am
6. Chitra Ma'am - Chithala Ma'am
7. Vidya Ma'am - Vidi Ma'am
8. Indira Ma'am - Indra Ma'am

If you have something in your list please do share with me.

The Indispensable Changes 

My first year of teaching was more of learning than teaching I would say. I will keep those stories for later. Now let me begin with some cute ones.

I was appointed in Junior KG (L.K.G) with two other teachers. In a class, there were 3 teachers and 30 children. There was this boy who sat in my corner along with other nine. Let's call him Vedik. He looked very poised and matured. The first month is very crucial for children as well as teachers for they have to remember the names of each other. Sometimes we messed up names with faces, so do they.  Unlike most of the children, this boy had a very clear pronounciation. We usually get a handful of those kind. So we were really happy. 

We repeated our names in each class. I was excited to hear these little tots calling me “Lakshmi Ma'am”. But Vedik never called me for anything at any point of time. For months he did not. And to my surprise, one fine day I was sitting as usual in my corner surrounded by 10 naughty heads and suddenly I could hear someone tapping on the table and calling my full name “Sreelakshmi...”!! I turned around to see this tiny gentleman sitting there looking at me asking “pencil...” I was stupefied by this act at first. But from then on I was getting used to it though. 

Time and again we instructed him to call me “Lakshmi Ma'am” but he never changed! He always behaved as am his friend not a teacher. After several repeated instructions, somehow by end of the year he began to call me “Lakshmi Ma'am”. And at that point of time I realized how much I missed the old version! There are many small things in life which you want to change but once it changes you will realize how much you miss the former. Isn't it?

Another year, Arjun Wakure (the only real name I've used in this blog) who is my friend's son was in my colleague's class. During one storytelling session he gave us a moral which took me to a pensive mood that day. The story was 'The enormous turnip' which is a famous one. Hope you all know the story. If you don't, aunt Google can help you with it. At the end of each story session we ask children to give their version of 'Moral of the story'. And that day Arjun stood up and stated, "Moral of the story is, it's always better not to grow big. Being small is good. All these problems happened because the turnip grew so big!"

Later when his class teacher told me about this I was wondering, how can these children talk so sensible sometimes! How many of us would have wished to be a child forever? Unfortunately some changes are inevitably indispensable, right? And it's amazing that children unknowingly know this truth. Oh! that's an oxymoron!


The Miracle 

Each year was challenging and entertaining. I had enjoyed each moment inside the classroom only becuase of these cutie pies. There was this child, Athul (not real name) who was very stubborn. He used to fight with other children and got moody quickly. Even if we insisted him to say sorry he never uttered a word. He hated writing tasks and was a fussy eater. He communicated in Hindi and never responded to our converstaions. Even a slightest change in our tone made him upset and he cried aloud. Throwing tantrums became a daily show. We had a tough time with him. As a whole, if you look at him there stood a perfect 'problematic child' for a teacher. 

He was sitting in my corner and I slowly began to get acquainted with him. One thing I fathomed was he responded positively to physical touches. If he is angry/sad he screamed and punched whoever went near him. His eyes were flooded with tears. One day at one such instance I ignored him completely. He couldn't just take it and after few minutes I could see he was asking to my co-teacher for me to attend him. I went near him and spoke with him calmly and asked him to say sorry. Me saying literally, "open your mouth and say so....rry...." . For the first time, I heared him mumbling the word 'sorry'. (This kind of teaching to say sorry I've learnt from my senior co-teacher during my first year and it works!) I hugged him tightly and appreciated “You are such a nice boy”. 

From that day we could see gradual changes in his behaviour. But he listened only to me not to the other teachers. It took a while for making that happen but we suceeded in that too. Whenever he cried I hugged him, even while scolding him I kept one hand upon his. I fed him in the initial days by playing Tom and Jerry which he loved to the core and later he was able to self feed following my instructions. The most funniest thing was the way he called me. Till the end of term one he called me “Chapla Ma'am...” as he couldn't pronounce 'Lakshmi'. I couldn't control my laughs each time he called me that name. Whenever I scolded him, he pouted his face with tearful eyes and said “Katti with you”. I conversed with him in Hindi as well as using small English words and sentences which proved right later, as he began to respond in bits and pieces of English. 

We trained him using sand trays for writing and gave extra homework weekly twice. I was surprised to see that he neither complained nor denied to write. His mother played an important role by giving daily writing practice at home. I must appreciate their priceless efforts for him. It is a clear cut fact that without the support of parents we teachers alone can't do any miracles. When I say support, it could be emotional as well. 

At last, we could really see the real miracle happening. Eventually his fine motor skills became more polished. His books were not scribbled anymore. He started writing following the correct formations and began to understand the number concepts. His behaviour changed drastically. He listened to all three teachers unanimously. He learnt to control his anger. To my surprise he began to call me Lakshmi Ma'am. By the end of the year he was awarded with the certificate from the school for “Tremendous hardwork”! It was a proud moment as a teacher. You don't really need anyone's appreciation to get motivated. This is what we call instant job satisfaction you recieve but in very few professions like these! 

I personally do not like the concept of 'favourite child' because it won't do justice to other children in the class. But amongst all these years, my heart still skips a beat for this child. I had tried my best not to show that in front of my class. He proved teaching is not only being strict but also being compassionate. Love, compassion and patience can do wonders. Even the worst child would have some point where a teacher can start with. Only thing is you should have the patience to dig it.

The Learning Curve

The learning curve is different for each child. Let me explain it for you. By learning curve I mean from which level the child has begun and to which level he/she has reached. I have seen many teachers do the blame game saying " last year teachers did not teach him/her properly. Now we are struggling." I seriously believe in most of the cases this is not true. That's where you must dig out that child's learning curve. You can always go back to the previous year's teacher to know at what level the child was when he came to her class and how much time did he/she take to reach the final stage. You must not forget about the two months vacations as well. This is a huge gap for these children. I will give you an example.

Take Athul's case from the previous story. He came to us with no recognition of numbers and alphabets. Forget about writing! Fine motor skills were at zero level. When we compare his learning curve with other children, his curve is way far better! He learnt alphabets (to read & write), numbers till 10 clearly (rest of the numbers were little tricky for him though he recognised many but he wrote them neatly). Apparently there was another child in my corner who was also at the same level but she took more time to come to the class's average.

Later, in the next academic year I heard that his teacher was not so happy with him as he was bit weak compared to other children. So, this is where I told you to apply this theory. Instead of sitting and reading the previous year files of children, just approach the previous year teachers to know about the child and his learning curve. I believe, this will definitely give you some idea of where to start with. May be some really need individual attention for time being and that time would definitely help them reach the level of peer group.

I am sure, most of us as teachers would have gone through this. It's ok to feel that way but next time try to take an effort to talk to that teacher if needed and trust me you will see a difference. 


Lost in the Abyss of Love

Shashank joined a month later that year. I still remember the day he entered the class with a face full of smile without any 'first day of school fears'. He spoke less as he couldn't communicate in English where he was a gabby in Tamil. We didn't know much about the family as the first PTM they did not attend. Next time we were lucky to meet the family; father, uncle and aunt. Missing mom! They said mother is in Chennai. The family was so caring and loving towards the boy especially the aunt. But as time passed and we came to know that his parents are living separately. 

He was a happy child, quick learner. Within few months he picked up the new language and began to converse. He possessed beautiful handwriting as well. Things were going smoothly and one day he was absent in class. The next day and next to next... he didn't turn up. No news from their side. We were wondering! One day, the news flashed. He has taken back to Chennai with his mother. Only at that time we came to know that his parents' divorce case was on-going and the court's final judgement was to give the child's custody rights permanently to the mother.

In each class I searched that little happy smiling face among the other twenty nine. Though he left us abruptly, it was not easy for us to leave him from our hearts. In one or other class children kept asking "Where is Shashank ma'am?" and my heart mumbled to myself, "We lost him in the abyss of love, my dears..."

I will tell you about Sahaana now. She is a book which I half read and lost somewhere in the dark. Obviously I wouldn't be able to tell you the climax. Let me introduce her to you. A perfect tom boy look. She had a boycut hair, no earrings. Tallest one in the class. Her cognitive skills were extremely bad, to the extent that she herself was not aware of her whereabouts. She used to compare herself with the boys in the class and believed that she is a boy. Whenever teacher asked to form lines of girls and boys (this was only to make it easy to take headcount, they sat wherever they wanted inside the class) she always stood behind the boys line. We reinforced her that she is a girl and by second term we could see a little change.

She didn't even mumble, not even in her native language. Eye hand co-ordination was really bad. She never bothered to ask to go to restroom and kept wetting her dress during first term. We potty trained her slowly and she got better by next term. We felt the child needed individual attention and wanted to discuss with her parents. Unfortunately, we noticed the parents were least bothered about the child especially the mother!! The father atleast was ready to listen and made few promises. But the mother's attitude gave us a shock. She sat on the chair half turned, no eye contact, with an 'I don't care' attitude. Whenever she spoke she defended us outrightly. We were miffed. Mother and father didn't seem to be in good terms. Sahana had an elder brother who seemed to be a perfect active child. We tried in many ways to help her with zero support from her own parents. Her homeworks were either not done or half done by her brother. We could have helped her in a better way (as we needed parent's permission to begin with other methods of teaching) but the parents were not at all ready to co-operate. She discontinued next year. That was a moment we felt helpless as teachers. I still hope to read the other half of that book somewhere at sometime!

Let me compile: 
I've seen different types of parents in these cases. A few are here,

1) Parents who understand their child's learning difficulties and ready to give any kind of support for their betterment.
2) Parents who know their child has some issues but not fully supportive.
3) Parents who know their child has problems but not ready to admit it. They do not even agree with teachers or school authorities regarding the same. They keep defending and leave the school when they feel there is no improvement. Unfortunately they are unaware of the fact that the improvement and parent's support are interrelated. 
4) Parents who are not aware of their child's disabilities. There are mixed responses when we tell them about it.
5) Parents who are aware about it but wait for school to tell them about it first. When we tell, they agree with us. Imagine the huge amount of time teachers/counselors would have spent on this! Yes, we need to observe, make anecdotes for weeks and send reports. If the parent had told it earlier all this double work could have been avoided.

Now, as a parent you decide which group you want to join. Apparently, if you find out that the teacher is not doing justice you must report it too. I am not telling to accept them blindly but think over it, differenciate and decide the best for your child. We all know parenting is not an easy task. Once you are a parent you owe to take up the responsibility. Fact!

Parent-Teacher-Parent-Triangle stories

I have never thought that I could teach children other than mine, in any of my distant dreams. I always believed it is the toughest job ever to make thirty children sit inside a room listen to you. I am done with handling two at home and don't even tell me about thirty! That was my attitude. I have a huge respect towards this profession and felt this would be a never achievable job for me. I have seen how fabulous is to be a teacher from my grandmother, her two sisters and my mother-in-law who all were Government school teachers in Kerala. Wherever they go there will be some or other person who was their old student. They were so contented each time they met one. 

When I joined this gang, post one year I could reminisce their experiences. While walking inside a mall or a shop I get to see atleast one student from my class or school and they come to me running just to say "Hi" or  'Ma'am, do you remember me?". My husband was hit by this and wondered, "Am working in Bangalore for more than twelve years now. None of the strangers came to me and said 'haaiii...' like this!! You just started working in a school and this is the scene! Lucky you.."

Of course, I am lucky enough to work as a teacher. I have worked in IT/ITES and HR and entertainment media (Part time Radio Jockey) fields for 9 years. Never have I ever got the job satisfaction which I've got from this profession. Reasons are many. But most of all, it helped me as a parent. It changed me as a parent. It helped me to know my children much better. So for me that would be one of the best part of it. Before joining this field, I haven't observed any child other than mine so closely. I knew my elder one is really good in academics. When she was in Junior KG we've got feedback from her teachers that she was excellent in reading and comprehension. I felt it's quite a normal thing for a child to read at that age. I've never appreciated her for that. Moreover, if you go to any house in Kerala you will see a shelf full of books. Reading is a part of our life or in better words, way of life for us. 

Later we relocated to Bangalore. Joined the new school. She was in first grade. I was with Jr.KG. When I got to know about my class children there were only 2 in my class who could read. And in other sections they didn't have any. At that point of time I realised not all children at that age could read. So my child was doing great and I never did appreciate her. I felt guilty. Days passed, I was busy with my job as usual and never had much time to teach her. Trust me, she learnt herself from school and from her library at home. I have never taught her even a single English word. Such a careless mother I was! That year she appeared for Spell Bee exams. I told her, "Dear, mom won't be able to teach you anything. If you want to appear the exam you do. It's up to you. No pressure from our side. This is your first competitive exam. Do well." 
I haven't seen her sitting with any books particularly for this exam. And when the results came through a diary note I was shocked!! First rank in the whole school! 

I told this story to let some parents know that how we underestimate or overestimate our children. Also to reiterate the importance of reading habit (I will write about it in detail later). 

I will share one more incident. There was this boy named Vinayak in Jr.KG who was an introvert. He cried for almost a month in the beginning of the academic year. It took more time for him to open up. He was smart and responded well later. But during every PTM his father was worried about him only because he was an introvert. The main reason for the worry was his elder sister was an extrovert and extremely good in academics, where this boy turned out just opposite. During one such PTMs his father went to the extent of saying that, "If this is the case, in future how my child is going to perform in the market!? Am worried about that." 

Unbelievable right?! Are you developing some product to sell in the market or are you raising children? We tried convincing him about his child's best qualities but nothing went into his brain. I pity on that child for he might have to suffer those comparisons throughout his life. These are few scenarios we as parents can go wrong but a good teacher would never. Even though you disagree with them, at times listening to your child's teacher is not a bad option at all.

There was this incident which was a learning and eye-opener for me as a parent. My elder one was in Grade two. She had difficulties in learning Hindi. Her Grade one teacher was super awesome (Pooja Ma'am) and made the basics thorough. But as you go further there are more things to study and the teachers usually talk only in Hindi. For those who don't understand they translate in English sometimes. As I know to read, write and speak(not so well) Hindi I could help her to an extent. But many days she came from school saying the same complaint as "I can not understand anything Ma'am is talking in class. She only speaks Hindi."
So, we also felt there should be some kind of system for non Hindi students as for them it's a new language which they haven't heard or spoken ever before. Atleast few words they can translate to English. One day me and my husband was discussing about this and he told that we will send a mail to school regarding this. I said, do not send now. We will first talk with them directly during PTM and still no changes we will think about mail. She overheard our discussion that day. From that day she had been disrespectful towards that teacher in the class.

Next PTM we came to know about this. We felt really really bad because we believe that every student must respect their teachers regardless of whether they are good or bad. I know my child is outrageously outspoken. If she feels something is wrong she shoots her questions straight from the shoulder. She never hesitate to talk her mind infront of anyone. Most of her teachers and Principal & Chairman of her previous school always appreciated this character. They advised not to refrain her from this as in the current world scenario our children must find their own voice. But respect also matters because it shapes their behaviour and character. More than anything else, firstly I want my children to become good human beings. That matters because these things are directly connected with your own happiness. I have experienced the fact that rather than anything else, being human makes you happy and content! I teach my children that, nothing is important than education and humanity. Remembering the quote which I read somewhere, "Knowledge gives you power but character earns respect."  No matter how religious/rich/powerful you are without education and humanity you will not obtain real happiness and success. 

Am I preaching?! Ohh! Never mind... Let's take a U-turn to where we halted.

So, we went to meet the Hindi teacher along with my daughter. There was this old lady sitting calmly. With so much love in her eyes she called "aao beta...". We apologised and made my daughter also apologise for her inappropriate behaviour. After talking with the teacher I understood one thing. I can't blame her at all. She is an old lady who might have specialised in Hindi with little knowledge of English at those olden times. She would have better fitted in a higher grade. Getting placed in a wrong space is not her fault. May be there are other factors too. Undoubtedly she was excellent in her area of specialization. She hugged my child warmly before leaving and said, "choti bachi hei...chod do". From then, whenever I see her at school I used to go and hug her because deep inside my heart I felt bad for what my child did. Thankfully, we did not hear any such complaints anymore. That year I took extra efforts to teach her Hindi. And my hardwork has never gone in vain. Still she struggles to speak fluently but she understands and writes without much errors. So, what I learnt from this is; you should never ever discuss realted to school/teacher infront of your child. Sometimes they take it as a consent to behave disrespectfully towards teachers. We somehow made our child understood that you can be outspoken without hurting others feelings. I have seen tremendous changes from her third grade. Now she is in 5th grade and doing great.

Leena was in my last year class. It was clear that she suffered from lack of attention at home. Her father was busy with business trips and mother working in IT field. Grandparents were taking care of her. Her fine motor skills were good but you know what she used to do? Knowingly she would make consistent mistakes while writing. When I get angry and scold her she will look at me with a smiling happy face. She wanted me to call her name and scold her everytime. She used to test my patience level badly. The problem was not with her. She had serious lack of attention from parents. Poor thing is that the parents confessed it during PTM. Later that year she left the school as they were moving abroad. Hope she is happy with her parents now! Lack of attention reflects on children as behavioural changes. We should have our eyes wide open to see it and a heart to understand them.

Little Angels vs Little Devils

We always tell that children are little angels and full of innocence. But at times they are excellent manipulators and can turn into little devils too. Let me tell you one each.

Children are innocent and non judgmental. They don't judge people on their colour, religion, language, poorness or richness. They only see humans. If they are being judgemental then we are the culprits. We, adults are the ones who inject these thoughts in to their brains. I had a child in my class, who was from an upper middle class family. She was the cutest and shortest one in the class, looked like a princess. She was kind, pleasant, always ready to answer (ended up missing her turns many times for not taking the turns while answering). In one of those classes about different professions, we were discussing the topic "What you want to become when you grow up?". We saw doctors, engineers, teachers, fire fighters, Ola drivers, electricians, plumbers, farmers etc. When her turn came and what we saw was something unique!! Confidently she stood up and said, "Ma'am I want to become a bus aunty". Yes! you heard it right. She meant the school bus maid who takes care of 40+ children single handedly. For her that aunty was a true hero! We appreciated her for giving a unique and honest answer without any inhibitions. I believe in angels who live amongst us. At that moment, she was one for me!

Now, listen. Children are not always angelic. They know to manipulate us very well. They are excellent story tellers. I have seen many such harmless and fascinating story tellers. But at times some turn into the other way around. They manipulate their parents so well and use it very cunningly against those teachers they don't like. Can't believe me right? Trust me, none of these are cooked up stories. I can name all these teachers and children anytime and they all are here somewhere reading all these! See, if your child feels that you as a parent is not in favour of school/particular teacher then it's just a cake walk for them to make you believe their story. It's not the olden school times where our generation did not have any control over our parents or teachers. Imagine you coming back from school and complaining about your teacher to your parents. My mother will chuck me out from my house first and only then she will speak the rest! I am not telling that is the right thing to do. You must listen to your child. When you compare times have changed drastically and dramatically. Now most of the children possess good control over their parents and sometimes they tend to misuse it. 

There was this girl in Junior KG who cooked up a story about her class teacher that she slapped this child on her face! It created a lot of chaos in school and mental stress to that teacher. Unfortunately, CCTV was also not in working condition. Hence no proofs too. The teacher is my friend and I know the situations she had undergone which led to an extent of depression. It matters how you deal with your child as a parent. You must know to differentiate between their own weaven stories and the real ones. I know it's difficult but it's not impossible. I have met many such parents (working parents of course) where they used to tell us during PTMs about how their little boy likes to weave stories and they clearly knew which one to believe and not. Parenting is not an easy task. Children grow well only if you nurture and guide them in the right direction. It's true that teachers are second parents because sometimes we do differentiate between these stories better than parents! Lol!

Let me tell you something very sensitive. The language. The language what we teach our children and what they learn from outside. We really really don't have any idea what kind of words they use outside mostly when they are with their friends. We know most of the teenagers use these words as they feel it is trendy, stylish and make them Western. I know as adults many of us use these words. But we understand the meaning and aware that it's not a 'great' word to use often. As children they don't have any idea what these words are meant for. Small children are copycats of elders. There is room for enough exposure. In school bus- they listen to elder children, at home - parents or television, while playing outside - peers, inside the lifts - the graffiti walls etc. 

In my school bus there was a girl from 4th grade who came and asked me secretly, "Ma'am, many children in my class using this 'F' word. What's the meaning ma'am? Is it too bad?" I was frozen for a moment and somehow managed saying "Baby, it's not the age that you can understand the meaning. Of course it is bad. Better you don't use the word and don't ask anyone the meaning. You will understand once you grow up." Though she didn't seem to be satisfied with my answer she kept quiet and nodded. I know she would have found out by now because they are curious about these things and it's a worry for us how to make them understand at this age. 

You think only primary level face these problems? Be alarmed! Pre-primary children as well pick these words without knowing the meaning. We've heard 'S***' and 'F***' words in classrooms and warned those children. Good thing is that, at this age most of them listen to you. They don't go digging in detail. 

As parents we must know who are our children's friends and what kind of language they use. Atleast once in a while go with them while they play outside and keep an eye and ear open. If you are thinking that "my child will never do that", let me tell you it is not about how good your child is. Even good children pick these words and use it without knowing the meaning. Most of these cases are revealed while playing. If you are too busy to attend them now, later you will have to repent.


Endless love

Memories are pouring in. I was wondering in these few years if I have so much to embrace then imagine those senior most teachers! 

Our school is an inclusive school and also we have the system of 'Right to Education' for the underprivilaged children. Inclusive schools have children with special needs or any physical disabilities along with the others. They sit together with all other children in the same class also they will have special instructors if needed. I have met different children with different special needs and all of them were really special to me. I remember Pratheesh who came to me during my second year. Special instructors doubted of ADHD / autism signs. He used to put stuffs in his mouth like pencil, eraser, chalk, sand and any non-food items that attracted him. Zero fine motor skills and no communication. He understood only Odiya but he didn't speak anything in that language too. Within few weeks he began to mumble few sounds and pointed towards the park saying "paaaarrrkkk..." whenever he was prompted to talk. His parents were very co-operative and gave all kinds of support all the time. During the mid-year due to severe health issues I had to take a break. When I came back to school next year he was in Senior KG, next to my class. I was astonished to see the improvement. He began to converse in English, learnt to hold pencil and write. When he saw me he came running and showed his book "Ma'am...see". I remembered my previous year colleagues who would have worked so much on him, of course his parents too. His new teachers also took the time and effort which made him very much independent and talkative. Seeing him everyday reminded me nothing is impossible, nothing is so hard if you are ready to work on it. The results will assure you real satisfaction and happiness.

Saritha and Babitha were from my first batch. They came under RT(Right to Education) policy. These children usually have a NGO who will be acting as a mediator between school and parents. Also these NGO's will be taking care of the responsibility of teaching, completion of homeworks etc as the parents are uneducated in most of the cases. I always felt thankful for having uniforms in schools when I think about these children. In uniform all children look same, no poor no rich. 

During their first PTM (before classes began) we met their fathers along with the NGO guy. They spoke Bangla mixed Hindi. As a part of knowing the child beforehand, we used to ask few questions. That day children were not with them so we wanted to know if the child maintained eye contact while talking. Maintaining eye contact is considered as very important for moulding a healthy social behaviour. When we asked, he proudly and confidently said, "nahi nahi...kabhi nahi. woh tho aisi nahi hein" (no, no..never. She will never do that). We understood how shameful it was for the girls in their culture to look into the eyes and speak especially with men! Later when these two joined our class we observed that Saritha is amazingly brave enough to speak her mind infront of anyone that too maintaining good eye contact :).

They brought semiya kheer or banana daily for their snacks break. After few months seeing many others bringing junk food, at times we could see Maggi noodles or biscuits in their boxes too. They seemed to be very hungry by the snack time as they traveled almost one and half hour to reach school by 8 am. They might be rising much early then! That's why in many classes we found them half asleep and felt pity for the poor little ones. They always reminded me of the luxury life am living! In a classroom you are not only teaching but learning too. 


A Parallel World 

All this while I was talking about the stories from our world which is very much familiar to us. Now am going to tell you one true story from a parallel world which we are not so familiar with. When affluent families are having the luxury of admitting their children in the high-cost educational institutions, where do you think the children of daily wagers go? One of my best friend, Sowmya who teaches in one such institution shared one incident which she had encountered. Everytime I hear something from her it just shakes me as a teacher, as a parent moreover as a humanist. She teaches in plus one and plus two grades. The crowd is entirely different. The age group itself is a difficult to handle type. She says, if you want them to listen to you then listen to them first. Don't try to control them, just walk along with them. Gain their trust. Once you earn their trust and respect they will listen to whatever you tell them.

This time when I called her, I met Kalpana from a bandit family. Unlike other girls from her society she was smart, brave and courageous. Her desire was to go for higher studies and reach heights. In their family talking with opposite sex and being friendly with them was forbidden. Considering Kalpana's broad attitude she was the black sheep for her kins. Her younger brother was also a student in the same school. He was an active spy and whenever he saw her with any boys he informed the parents about it by adding little bit of salt and masala. Then for next few days she will be absent. Teachers would give a call and then they will send her again. This was happening every now and then. 

Like every other time, this time also the story repeated. She didn't come to school for one week. Then one day all of a sudden she appeared infront of my friend who was her class teacher. She had made her mind this time. She was desperate and depressed, "Miss, am not going back to that house anymore. I can't live there. They will not let me study. Am under house arrest. Please let me stay here in school. I want to study. If you don't let me in then I will go somewhere else. But I won't go back home."

Sowmya was puzzled. As a teacher there is a limit to interfere. But what they were doing was also not correct. Her thoughts were like "The family is full of villains, how am I going to defend them for her!". She somehow managed to call the family for a talk. She was literally scared to talk to those huge gangsters who were standing in front of her. Imagine a 5 feet lady standing beside 6 feet tall huge men!  Shivering inside yet with a brave heart, she made the father understood what the girl wants in her life and how is that going to make an impact on their lives. She also warned she will send Kalpana home only if they promise that they won't hurt her anymore and allow to continue her studies. They agreed to the terms and she went back home. From next day she was regular to school. Now she is getting ready for higher studies. 

Kalpana and her whole family has shown huge respect and love each time they met Sowmya. Kalpana's mother one day held her hands with tearful eyes and a heart full of gratitude said, "We owe you so much. It's you who changed her life." Sowmya replied, "It's not me, it's Kalpana's bravery and courage to stand up for herself changed her life. I was just supporting her."

This is another face of teaching. She had shared many such incidents. Once some children who did not have money to buy new dress for their 10th grade Graduation day and she bought for them. There are children who work as gangsters, drug addicts etc. Each story is unique and touchy. As a teacher she is in content that that she is able to make atleast some changes in their perspectives towards life. Like many of us, she was also working in a leading private school earlier but she confesses that the job satisfaction and love you receive from this new one is abundant. I was wondering, we are enjoying the luxury of life here and still complaining about each and everything. Each phone call to her make me look at life more positively. Life is all about learning and unlearning. Just keep your eyes and ears wide open! Also teaching is not a job, it's a service...a great service only if you are true to it.

Online Drama

Let me conclude with one last and latest episode of online teaching which is the new fad. How can I forget it! Though I am not a part of it as I resigned from my job few months back, my ex-colleagues call me often to share the new experiences. While some are struggling to cope up, some are easily winning over it. 

Last week one of my friends shared this one. I was seriously thinking whether to laugh or pity at her. Listen, she was taking
online class. Only one child has logged in. She was enacting a puppet story. In one scene she was hiding under the table. The mother is feeding the child on the other side of the computer. All of a sudden, the mother says, "Ma'am, please let her chew the food. Only then you continue. Else she won't pay attention."  Where is the teacher now? Under the table! She continued waiting under the table thinking "What am I doing here?? Am I supposed to do all these??" Hiding her feelings under the table she waited for the child to finish chewing! 

I will take you to one more online class where teacher is taking rhymes class. The teacher has to sing and sway her body along with the tune. Child is sitting on the bed. Behind the child father is lying down as if 'laka laka laka laka' Rajaneekanth wearing a baniyan and shorts enjoying the dance performance. (In Pre-primary parents are allowed to sit with the child). She was embarrassed to the core. You might have heard jokes, memes and trolls rolling over social media with a similar scene. I couldn't believe my ears that it is really happening! Am sure you will also be feeling the same way I do. To these kind of parents, you can show some respect towards teachers next time. My friend has complained about the same anyways. Hope it gets better. 

I feel every parent must get an opportunity to teach once in their lifetime for better parenting, to understand their own children better and look at them in a different perspective. As parents we are under the shadow of many myths and taboos. For me this job was an eye opener along with my PG diploma in Pre-primary education. Am grateful for getting this golden opportunity and use it wisely.

They say teaching is not a job, it's a service. Why? Because we deal with human brains and minds. We are capable of moulding them however we want. We are responsible for the future minds of tomorrow's world. So decide what kind of future you would like to see. Mould them wisely with love, compassion, bravery and humanity first! Education will follow.

Souvenir Of Love

Either as teachers or as parents, hope you could relate to some of my thoughts. Hope this souvenir of love took you back to those old classrooms at some point of time. I would love to hear your stories and will try to collate them next time in Chapter two. Do share!

Consider this as a souvenir of love on this Teacher's Day! Happy Teacher's Day!

Let me sign off with my favourite quote:

"A good teacher teaches from the heart."❤️


Friday, August 21, 2020

ഓണപ്പാട്ട്

ഓണത്തിനാരു വിരുന്നു വരും? 
മാവേലി മന്നൻ വിരുന്നു വരും

പൂക്കളമിട്ടു വരവേറ്റിടേണം 
പായസം രണ്ടു തരത്തിൽ വേണം 

ഉണ്ണിപ്പുര കെട്ടി ഓണത്തപ്പൻ
മണ്ണപ്പം ചുട്ടു കളിച്ചുണ്ണികൾ 

അമ്മമാർക്കോണം അടുക്കളയിൽ കുട്ടികൾക്കോണം വയൽ വരമ്പിൽ 

എത്ര നാളായോണം ഇങ്ങനെ ഇങ്ങനെ! 

ഇന്ന് പൂവില്ല പൂക്കളമില്ലെനിക്ക് ഓണമറിയില്ല കുഞ്ഞുങ്ങൾക്കും 

ഇനിയുള്ള ഓണത്തിൽ പഴമയില്ല 
എങ്കിലും പഴമ തൻ  സ്നേഹവും കൂട്ടായ്മയും എന്നും ഹൃദയങ്ങൾ ചേർത്തു വെക്കും!

ഉള്ളിന്റെയുള്ളിൽ ഒരൊറ്റ ചോദ്യം,
കേരള നാട്ടിൽ പോകും വഴി 
മാവേലി ഈ വഴി വന്നീടുമോ??

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

പാപഹത്യ - Break the taboos

"എനിക്ക് അമ്പലത്തിൽ പോണം..." ദേവി കണ്ണാടിയിൽ നോക്കി പറഞ്ഞു.

"പൊയ്ക്കോളു...അതിന് എന്നോട് ചോദിക്കണതെന്തിനാ? അല്ലാ...നിനക്കിപ്പോ സുഖമില്ലാതിരിക്കല്ലേ?അപ്പൊ പിന്നെ....എങ്ങനെയാ...!" സേതു സംശയത്തോടെ അവളെ നോക്കി.

"എനിക്കെന്താപ്പോ സൂക്കേട്‌? ഇതൊരു സൂക്കേടാണോ!! ഇത് എല്ലാ പെണ്ണുങ്ങൾക്കും മാസത്തിലൊരിക്കൽ വരുന്ന ഒരു സാധാരണ സംഭവം...അത് വരാതിരിക്കുന്പോളാണ് സൂക്കേടാവണത്. ഇതുള്ളപ്പോ അമ്പലത്തിൽ കേറരുതെന്ന് എവിടെയാ എഴുതി വച്ചേക്കണേ?പറ..."

ഇവളോട്‌ നാക്ക് കൊണ്ട് മല്ലിട്ട് ജയിക്കാമെന്ന് ആരും കരുതണ്ട. പണ്ടേ ഇങ്ങനെയാണ്. അവൾക്കു ശരിയെന്ന് തോന്നുന്ന കാര്യങ്ങൾ ആരെതിർത്താലും ചെയ്തിരിക്കും. അതുകൊണ്ടാണല്ലോ തന്റെ കൂടെ ഒരു ലിവിംഗ് റ്റുഗെതർ റിലേഷന് അവൾ ഇറങ്ങി തിരിച്ചതും.

"എന്നാലും ദേവി...അത് ശരിയാണോ? ആരെങ്കിലും അറിഞ്ഞാൽ പ്രശ്നമാവില്ലേ...? "
"ആരറിയാനാണെന്നേ...ഞാനെന്താ ഇത് വിളിച്ചു കൂവിക്കൊണ്ട് നടക്കുവാണോ? എന്റെ സേതു...എനിക്കറിയാവുന്ന എത്രയോ പെണ്‍കുട്ടികൾ ഉണ്ടെന്നോ ഇങ്ങനെ...! ആരെങ്കിലും അറിഞ്ഞിട്ടാണോ!"
"ഓഹോ...അപ്പൊ നീ ഒറ്റക്കല്ല, കൂട്ടുകാരുമുണ്ട്‌. നമ്മളൊരു സമൂഹത്തിൽ ജീവിക്കുമ്പോൾ ആ സമൂഹത്തിലെ നിയമങ്ങളും രീതികളും കുറച്ചെങ്കിലും അനുസരിക്കണ്ടേ?"
"ആഹാ...ആരാ ഈ പറയണേ?! കല്യാണം കഴിക്കാതെ ഒരു പെണ്ണിന്റെ കൂടെ ജീവിക്കുന്നവനാണ് ഈ പ്രസംഗിക്കുന്നത്..." അവൾ കുലുങ്ങി ചിരിച്ചു.

സേതുവിന് തിരിച്ചൊന്നും പറയാനുണ്ടായിരുന്നില്ല. പന്ത് ഇപ്പോൾ അവളുടെ കോർട്ടിലാണ്. സേതു ചമ്മിയ ചിരി എങ്ങനെ ഒളിപ്പിക്കാം എന്നലോചിച്ച് കൊണ്ടിരുന്നു.

"സേതു...നിയമങ്ങളും മാമൂലുകളും എല്ലാം വേണം. പക്ഷെ അത് എന്തിനാണെന്നും എന്തുകൊണ്ടാണെന്നും മനസ്സിലാക്കിയിട്ട് വേണം. ഇവിടെ  എല്ലാം ഒരു തരം ഐഡിയലിസം ആണ്. എന്ന് നമ്മൾ ഈ  ഐഡിയലിസം ഇല്ലതാക്കുന്നോ അന്ന് നമ്മൾ ജീവിക്കും...അന്ന് നമ്മൾ അറിയും എന്താണ് ജീവിതം എന്ന്. ഇങ്ങനെയുള്ള traditional customs-ന്റെ പുറകിലും ഓരോ കാരണങ്ങളുണ്ട്. അത് അന്നത്തെ കാലത്തെ ജീവിത സാഹചര്യങ്ങൾക്കനുസരിച്ച് ഉണ്ടാക്കിയവയാണ്. അതെല്ലാം ഇന്നത്തെ കാലത്ത് relevant ആകണമെന്നില്ല. ഞാൻ ചുമ്മാ വാചകമടിക്കുന്നതല്ല, ഇതിനെ പറ്റി നന്നായി സ്റ്റഡി നടത്തി പലയിടത്തും അന്വേഷിച്ചും വായിച്ചും പിന്നെ സ്വന്തം അനുഭവങ്ങളിൽ നിന്നും പറയുന്നതാണ്."

"ശരി. സമ്മതിച്ചു. നിന്നോട് ഒരു വാഗ്വാദത്തിന് ഞാനാളല്ല മോളേ...എന്നാലും അറിയാൻ വേണ്ടി ചോദിക്കുവാ...നീ കണ്ടെത്തിയ കാരണങ്ങളും കഥകളും പഠനങ്ങളും എന്താണെന്ന് പറഞ്ഞു തരൂ...ഞാനും കൂടെ അറിയട്ടെന്നേ!"
"yes.പറഞ്ഞു തരാല്ലോ...പക്ഷെ ഞാനീ പറയുന്ന കാര്യങ്ങൾ കേട്ട് കഴിയുമ്പോൾ എന്നോട് മാത്രമല്ല സേതു ഇനി അമ്മയോടും വീണയോടും വരെ പറയും,എന്താ നിങ്ങൾക്കൊക്കെ അമ്പലത്തിൽ പോയാല്? എന്ന്!"

"ഹ ഹ ഹ...അതെന്തായാലും ഉണ്ടാകാൻ പോണില്ല. നീ പറ..."

"ഇല്ലെങ്കിൽ കാണാം...അപ്പൊ കഥ പറഞ്ഞു തുടങ്ങാം. പുരാണത്തിൽ ഇങ്ങനെ ഒരു കഥയുണ്ട്, അതായത്...ഇന്ദ്രന്റെ ബ്രഹ്മഹത്യ പാപത്തിന്റെ ഒരു പങ്ക് ഏറ്റെടുത്തത് സ്ത്രീകളാണത്രെ! അതാണ്‌ സ്ത്രീകളുടെ menstruation. സ്ത്രീകളെ കൂടാതെ ഇതിന്റെ പങ്കു പറ്റിയവരാണ് ഭൂമിയും, വെള്ളവും പിന്നെ മരങ്ങളും. അതാണ്‌ മരുഭൂമിയായും, വെള്ളത്തിന്റെ പതയായും പിന്നെ മരങ്ങളുടെ പൊളിഞ്ഞു വീഴുന്ന പുറം തൊലിയായും കാണുന്നത്. ഇത്  വെറും കഥയാണ്‌ ട്ടോ. പഴയ കാലത്ത് sanitary reasons കൊണ്ടാണ് അമ്പലത്തിൽ പോവരുതെന്നൊക്കെ പറഞ്ഞിരുന്നതു്. അന്ന് sanitory pads ഉണ്ടോ? ഇല്ലല്ലോ...ഇന്നിപ്പോ അങ്ങനെയാണോ? നമ്മൾ ജീവിക്കുന്ന കാലഘട്ടത്തിനനുസരിച്ചു വേണ്ടേ കാര്യങ്ങൾ ചെയ്യാൻ? ആ ദിവസങ്ങളിൽ സ്ത്രീ unclean and impure ആണെന്ന് പറയുന്നു. ആ ദിവസങ്ങളിൽ അവൾക്കു pain ഉണ്ടാവും, അന്നേരം ഒരു rest കൊടുക്കാൻ വേണ്ടിയാണ് എന്ന് പറയുന്നവരും ഉണ്ട്. It's all about perception and personal preferences. These are just taboos. ചെങ്ങന്നൂരിലെ ദേവിക്കും, കാമാഖ്യ പുരത്തെ ദേവിക്കും തൃപ്പൂത്താവാമെങ്കിൽ ഈ ദേവിക്കും ആവാം. Rest കൊടുക്കുന്നത്‌ നല്ലതാണ്, പക്ഷെ അത് ഒരു punishment അല്ലെങ്കിൽ ഒരു നിയമമായി അടിച്ചേൽപ്പിക്കരുത്. Scietifically it's proven that there is nothing impure or unclean if you are keeping your body clean. ദൈവത്തെ പ്രാർത്ഥിക്കുന്നതിന് പ്രത്യേകം സമയമോ സ്ഥലമോ വേണമെന്ന് എനിക്ക് തോന്നുന്നില്ല. ദൈവത്തിന് എല്ലാവരും ഒരുപോലെ അല്ലേ? പിന്നെന്തിനാണീ വിവേചനം? ഈ പൂജാക്രമങ്ങളും രീതികളും ഉണ്ടാക്കിയത് നമ്മൾ തന്നെയല്ലേ അല്ലാതെ ദൈവമല്ലല്ലോ! നമ്മുടെ സമൂഹത്തിലെ പല കാര്യങ്ങളും ഇതുപോലെയാണ്. കുറേ taboos കെട്ടിപ്പിടിച്ചാണ് നമ്മൾ ഇപ്പോഴും ജീവിക്കുന്നത്."

"ഹൊ!നീ ഇതിനെപ്പറ്റി ഇത്രേം ഗവേഷണം ഒക്കെ നടത്തിയോ? ഈ ഗവേഷണം നീ വേറെ വല്ലയിടത്തും നടത്തിയിരുന്നെങ്കിൽ വല്ല scientist-ഉം ആയെനെല്ലോ"

"നിനക്ക് തമാശ. You know...നമ്മുടെ പല customs-ഉം ഇതുപോലെ ഉണ്ടായവയാണ്. ജാതി,മതം,വിശ്വാസങ്ങൾ എല്ലാം...മനുഷ്യർക്ക്‌ പരസ്പരം തിരിച്ചറിയാനാണ് ഗോത്രങ്ങളും ജാതികളും ഉണ്ടാക്കിയതെന്ന് ഏതെങ്കിലും ദൈവമോ അല്ലെങ്കിൽ വേദപുസ്തകമോ പറയുന്നുണ്ടെങ്കിൽ ഞാനാ ദൈവത്തിലും പുസ്തകത്തിലും വിശ്വസിക്കുന്നില്ല. ഞാൻ വിശ്വസിക്കുന്ന ദൈവത്തിനു മക്കളെ തിരിച്ചറിയാൻ...മനുഷ്യർക്ക്‌ സ്വന്തം സഹോദരങ്ങളെ തിരിച്ചറിയാൻ വേണ്ടത് ജാതിയും മതവുമല്ല...സ്നേഹമാണ്!! എല്ലാവർക്കും ഇതറിയാം, പക്ഷേ പ്രവൃത്തിയിൽ ഇതൊന്നും ഉണ്ടാവില്ല. അവിടെയാണ് പ്രശ്നം."

"എന്റെ ദേവി...നീയിങ്ങനെ ചെറിയ വായിൽ വലിയ വർത്തമാനം പറയുന്നത് കേട്ടിട്ട് എനിക്ക് പേടിയാവുന്നു. നിനക്ക് ചെറുതായി വട്ടുണ്ടോ എന്നാണെന്റെ സംശയം!" സേതു തല ചൊറിഞ്ഞു.

"അതെ...ഉള്ള കാര്യങ്ങൾ പറയുമ്പോൾ...മറ്റുള്ളവരിൽ നിന്ന് വ്യത്യസ്തമായി ചിന്തിക്കുമ്പോൾ അങ്ങനെയുള്ളവർക്ക് വട്ടാണെന്നാണല്ലോ നമ്മൾ പൊതുവെ പറയുന്നത്. ശരിക്കും പറഞ്ഞാൽ നമ്മുടെ സമൂഹത്തിനാണ് വട്ട് . വട്ടില്ലാത്തവർ വളരെ ചുരുക്കം. അങ്ങനെയുള്ളവർക്ക് സമൂഹത്തിൽ ജീവിക്കാൻ നന്നേ ബുദ്ധിമുട്ടേണ്ടി വരും." 

ഈ സംസാരം ഇവിടെ അവസാനിപ്പിച്ചില്ലെങ്കിൽ ഇതും പറഞ്ഞ്  ഇവൾ ഒരാഴ്ച തന്നെ ചെവിതല കേൾപ്പിക്കില്ലല്ലോ എന്നോർത്ത് സേതു പതുക്കെ toilet -ലേക്ക് വലിഞ്ഞു. പൈപ്പ് തുറന്നിട്ടാൽ പിന്നെ പറയുന്നതൊന്നും കേൾക്കണ്ടല്ലോ. വാഷ്ബേസിന്റെ മുന്നിലെ ചുവന്ന ഫ്രെയിമുള്ള കണ്ണാടിയിൽ മുഖം നോക്കിയപ്പോൾ എന്തോ ഒരു പന്തികേട്‌! തനിക്കു വട്ടുണ്ടോ...? അവൾ പറഞ്ഞതിൽ കുറച്ചു കാര്യമില്ലേ? അങ്ങനെ നോക്കിയാൽ തനിക്കു വട്ടുണ്ട്...ഉണ്ട്! സേതു കണ്ണാടിയിലെ പ്രതിബിംബത്തിൽ സൂക്ഷിച്ചു നോക്കി. കണ്ണ് കൊണ്ടും ചുണ്ട് കൊണ്ടും ഗോഷ്ടികൾ കാട്ടി നോക്കി. ഉം....തനിക്കു വട്ടുണ്ട്. ഉറപ്പിച്ചു.

അയാൾ toilet -ൽ നിന്നും ധൃതിയിൽ പുറത്തേക്കിറങ്ങി. അവൾ നനഞ്ഞ മുടി ഉണക്കിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നു. അവളുടെ നീണ്ട മുടിയിഴകളിൽ നിന്നും കണ്ണുനീർ ഇറ്റിറ്റു വീഴുന്നുണ്ടായിരുന്നു...ഇന്ദ്രന്റെ പാപ ഭാരം കൊണ്ട് സ്ത്രീ ശരീരം ഉരുകുകയാണോ എന്നയാൾക്ക് തോന്നി. അങ്ങനെ ഒരാളുടെ പാപത്തിന്റെ ഒരംശത്തെ ആണെങ്കിൽ പോലും, മനസ്സോടെ ഏറ്റെടുക്കണമെങ്കിൽ സ്ത്രീ ദേവി തന്നെ! ബ്രഹ്മഹത്യാപാപത്തിന്റെ ഓരോ പങ്കും ഏറ്റെടുത്തിട്ടും ഭൂമിയെയും മരങ്ങളെയും വെള്ളത്തിനെയും...സ്ത്രീകളെയും നമ്മൾ വീണ്ടും വീണ്ടും ഉപദ്രവിക്കുന്നു, നശിപ്പിക്കുന്നു. മരങ്ങൾ വെട്ടി നശിപ്പിച്ചും ഭൂമിയും വെള്ളവും pollute ചെയ്തും നമ്മൾ എന്താണ് നേടുന്നത്?

സേതു എന്തോ ആലോചിച്ചിട്ടെന്ന പോലെ ഇട്ടിരുന്ന ഡ്രസ്സ്‌ മാറി, തേച്ചു വച്ചിരുന്ന മുണ്ടും ഷർട്ടും എടുത്തിട്ടു. എന്നിട്ട് ദേവിയെ വിളിച്ചു.
"ദേവീ...വാ നമുക്ക് അമ്പലത്തിൽ പോവാം..."

ഒരു നിമിഷം, അവളുടെ കണ്ണുകളിൽ നിന്നുള്ള പ്രകാശവർഷത്തിൽ അന്ധനായി നിൽക്കുമ്പോൾ അയാൾ മനസ്സിൽ ഉറപ്പിച്ചു. അതേ... ഇവൾ ദേവി തന്നെ!! 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

അതിർത്തികൾ


റഷീദ് രണ്ടും കല്പിച്ചു താക്കോലെടുത്തിറങ്ങാൻ നില്ക്കുമ്പോളാണ് അഴകപ്പന്റെ വക മുന്നറിയിപ്പെത്തിയത് .

"ഡേയ്, എങ്ക പോറേ? സുമ്മാ അടി വാങ്ക പോറേ നീ. നെയ്‌ത് താ അന്ത പോലീസ്കാരൻ സൊന്നെല്ലേ? അപ്പോ എതുക്ക്!"

"എത്ര ദിവസംന്ന് തെരിയാമേ ഞാൻ എന്ന ചെയ്യറുത്? വീട്ടില് കാശ് അയക്കണ്ടേ? വാടക കൊടുക്കണ്ടേ?"

"അതെല്ലാം സരി താ. ആനാ കൊഞ്ചം കൂടെ വെയിറ്റ് പണ്ണുങ്കോ മാപ്പിളെ. എല്ലാം സരിയായിടും."

റഷീദിന്റെ ഉൾക്കണ്ണിൽ മറ്റൊന്നും കാണാൻ സാധിക്കാത്ത വിധം അവർ നാലുപേർ മാത്രം നിറഞ്ഞു നിന്നു, നാട്ടിലുള്ള ഭാര്യയും കുട്ടികളും വയസ്സായ ഉമ്മിച്ചിയും. പട്ടിണി കിടന്നു മരിക്കണോ അതോ അസുഖം ബാധിച്ചു മരിക്കണോ എന്ന് തീരുമാനമെടുക്കേണ്ടത് അയാളാണ്, അയാൾ മാത്രം. ഇല്ല, ഞാൻ ജീവിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നിടത്തോളം കാലം അവരെയെല്ലാം ഞാൻ തന്നെ പോറ്റും. ഞാനുള്ളിടത്തോളം അവരാരും പട്ടിണി കിടക്കൂലാ എന്നയാൾ തീരുമാനിച്ചു. കാലുകളിൽ ആരോ കയറ് കെട്ടി വലിച്ചു പുറത്തേക്ക് കൊണ്ട് പോകുന്നത് പോലെയുള്ള അയാളുടെ പോക്ക് കണ്ട് അഴകപ്പൻ ഒരു നിമിഷം പകച്ചു നോക്കി.

രണ്ടു രണ്ടര വർഷമായി നാടും വിട്ട് അന്യനാട്ടിൽ ഈ ചെറിയ പച്ചക്കറി കടയും തുറന്ന് വച്ച് ജീവിക്കുന്നു. ചന്ദാപുരയിലെ മലയാളികൾക്കിടയിൽ നാട്ടിലെ നല്ല ഫ്രഷ് പച്ചക്കറിയും മറ്റു സാധനങ്ങളും കിട്ടണമെങ്കിൽ റഷീദിക്കാന്റെ കടയിലേക്ക് പോയാ മതിയെന്നൊരു സംസാരമുണ്ടേ. കൊറോണക്കാലം വന്നതിൽ പിന്നെ എല്ലാം വെള്ളത്തിൽ വരച്ച വര പോലായി. കട തുറന്നിട്ടിപ്പോ ആഴ്ചകളായി. ഇടക്ക് വല്ലപ്പോഴും തുറന്നാൽ തന്നെ കച്ചവടവുമില്ല. പച്ചക്കറിയും പഴയ പോലെ വരുന്നില്ല. ചരക്കു വണ്ടികൾ കുറവാണ്. വലിയ സൂപ്പർ മാർക്കറ്റുകാരും ഓൺലൈൻ കച്ചവടക്കാരും എടുത്തിട്ട് ബാക്കി വന്നാലായി. അയാൾക്ക് സ്ഥിരമായി ചരക്ക് കൊണ്ടുവന്നിരുന്ന വണ്ടിക്കാരൻ വല്ലപ്പോഴുമാണ് എത്തുന്നത്. അതിർത്തികളിലെ കർശന നിയമങ്ങളും രോഗഭയവും എല്ലാം ഒരു കാരണം തന്നെ.

പക്ഷേ, തനിക്കങ്ങനെ പേടിച്ചിരിക്കാൻ പറ്റില്ലല്ലോ. ജീവിക്കണ്ടേ... ഇന്നലെ കട തുറന്നു വച്ച് ഒരു മണിക്കൂറിനുള്ളിൽ വടിപ്രയോഗവുമായി പോലീസെത്തി.

"ഷോപ് ക്ലോസ് മാടി. ഗൊത്തിൽവാ നിമഗേ?" എന്നയാൾ അലറിയതും റഷീദ് കൈ കൂപ്പി കടയുടെ മുന്നിലെത്തി അപേക്ഷിച്ചു നോക്കി.

ഒരു വിധത്തിലും ഏമാന്മാർ അനുവദിക്കുന്ന ലക്ഷണമില്ല. അടി കിട്ടുമെന്ന് തോന്നിയ അവസരത്തിലാണ് മനസ്സില്ലാ മനസ്സോടെ അയാൾ കടയടച്ചത്. അന്നേരം കടയിലുണ്ടായിരുന്ന സുനിൽ ചാടി പുറത്തിറങ്ങി. സുനിൽ ക്യാബ് ഡ്രൈവറാണ്. ഇടയ്ക്കിടെ കടയിൽ വരും. സാധനങ്ങൾ വാങ്ങിക്കാൻ മാത്രമല്ല നാട്ടുവിശേഷങ്ങൾ പറയാനും കൂടെ. റഷീദ് സുനിലിന്റെ കണ്ണുകളിൽ ഒരു നിമിഷം നിസ്സഹായതയോടെ നോക്കിയതും ഒരു ഞെട്ടലോടെ അയാൾ കണ്ണുകൾ പിൻവലിച്ചു. സുനിലിന്റെ കണ്ണുകളിലും താൻ കാണുന്നത് തന്നെ തന്നെയാണ്! അതയാളെ ഒന്ന് കൂടെ മരവിപ്പിച്ചു.

കടയടച്ചിറങ്ങുമ്പോൾ കൂടെ സുനിലുമുണ്ടായിരുന്നു. രണ്ടു പ്രേതാത്മാക്കളെ പോലെ അവരങ്ങനെ ഇടവഴിയിലൂടെ ഇഴഞ്ഞു നീങ്ങി.

"റഷീദേ, നിനക്ക് അടക്കാൻ ഒരു കടയെങ്കിലുമുണ്ടല്ലോ. എന്റെ ദിവസക്കൂലി മുട്ടിയിട്ട് മാസങ്ങളായി. ഈ ടാക്സി വാങ്ങാൻ ഭാര്യേടെ കെട്ടുതാലി പണയം വച്ച്, ലോണും എടുത്തേക്കാണ്. ഞാനെങ്ങനെ അത് തിരിച്ചടക്കും. എന്റെ കഞ്ഞി കുടി മുട്ടിയെടാ...ഒന്നുകില് എത്രേം പെട്ടെന്ന് ഈ പണ്ടാരം അസുഖം വന്ന് ചാവണം, ഇല്ലെങ്കില് ലോകം പഴേ പടിയാവണം. ഇതില് രണ്ടിനും ഇടേല് ഇങ്ങനെ ജീവിക്കാനെക്കൊണ്ടാവൂല റഷീദേ..."

റഷീദിന് വാക്കുകൾ തൊണ്ടയിൽ കുരുങ്ങി ഓക്കാനം വന്നു. കഴിഞ്ഞ ആഴ്ച അടുത്തുള്ള ഏതോ ഫ്‌ളാറ്റിലെ രണ്ടു സ്ത്രീകൾ കടയിൽ വന്നതോർത്തു. അവർക്ക് വീട്ടിൽ ജോലിക്കാരിയില്ലാത്തത് കൊണ്ട് വീട്ടുപണികൾ എല്ലാം ചെയ്യേണ്ടി വരുന്നതും അപാർട്മെന്റ് കോമ്പൗണ്ടിൽ തെരുവ് നായ്ക്കൾ കയറി ശല്യമുണ്ടാക്കുന്നതും പാലും പച്ചക്കറികളും ഡോറിന് മുന്നിൽ എത്തിക്കാത്തതും കുട്ടികൾ വീട്ടിനുള്ളിൽ അടങ്ങി ഇരിക്കാത്തതും തുടങ്ങി പല പല പ്രശ്നങ്ങളായിരുന്നു ഉന്നയിക്കാനുണ്ടായിരുന്നത്. അന്നത് കേട്ടപ്പോൾ ഇവരെത്ര ഭാഗ്യം ചെയ്തവർ എന്ന് തോന്നിയിരുന്നു അയാൾക്ക്. ഇന്നൊരു പക്ഷേ, സുനിലിന് തന്നോട് തോന്നുന്നതും അതേ വികാരമായിരിക്കാം.'ഭാഗ്യവാൻ!'

ഇന്ന് വീണ്ടും രണ്ടും കല്പിച്ചു കട തുറന്നു വച്ചു അയാൾ. അടിക്കണമെങ്കിൽ അടിക്കട്ടെ. ജീവിക്കാതെ വേറെ വഴിയില്ലല്ലോ. കാസർഗോഡ്ന്ന് അയാളുടെ ഭാര്യ എന്നും വിളിക്കും. ഉമ്മിച്ചിക്ക് വൈറസ്സിന്റെ അസുഖമാണ്. അതോണ്ട് അവർക്ക് വീട്ടിനു വെളിയിലേക്കിറങ്ങാൻ പോലുമാവൂലാ. സമൂഹ അടുക്കള ഉള്ളത് കൊണ്ട് കുറച്ചു ദിവസായിട്ട് രണ്ടു നേരം ഭക്ഷണം കിട്ടുന്നുണ്ട്. ഉമ്മിച്ചിക്ക് പ്രായമുണ്ട്. എല്ലാരും പറേണത് വയസ്സന്മാർക്ക് ഇത് വന്നാ പ്രശ്നാണെന്നാ. പക്ഷേ, എന്തോ ഉമ്മിച്ചിക്കിതുവരെ മറ്റാരോഗ്യ പ്രശ്നങ്ങളൊന്നൂല്യ, മനോബലമാണെങ്കിൽ അങ്ങേയറ്റം. അവരിത് മറികടക്കുമെന്ന് തന്നെയാണ് റഷീദിന്റെ ഉറച്ച വിശ്വാസം. അല്ലാഹ് അത്ര ക്രൂരനല്ല, നാലു നേരം നിസ്കരിക്കണ തന്റെ ഉമ്മിച്ചിയെ കഷ്ടപ്പെടുത്താൻ എന്നവൻ ഉറച്ചു വിശ്വസിച്ചു. ഇതൊക്കെ അള്ളാഹുവിന്റെ പരീക്ഷണങ്ങളാണ്!

ആലോചിച്ചു കാടു കയറിയിരിക്കുമ്പോളാണ് ജയ് വിളികളുമായി സ്ഥലത്തെ പ്രധാനി എത്തിയത്. അടുത്തുള്ള വീടുകളിൽ സൗജന്യമായി പാലും അരിയും മറ്റും എത്തിക്കുകയാണ് ഉദ്ദേശം. ഓരോ കിറ്റ് കൊടുക്കുമ്പോഴും അയാൾ തൊട്ടടുത്ത ക്യാമറയിൽ നോക്കി അഭിമാനപൂർവം ചിരിക്കുവാനും മറന്നില്ല. ഇതിനിടയിൽ തൊട്ടടുത്ത ചേരിയിൽ നിന്നുള്ള കുറച്ചു പേർ കടന്നു കയറിയതും അവരെ അയാളുടെ കൂട്ടാളികൾ തള്ളി മാറ്റിയതും അവിടെ ആകെ സംഘർഷ ഭരിതമാക്കി. മാസ്‌ക്കുകൾ ഉപയോഗിക്കണമെന്നുള്ളതും സാമൂഹിക അകലം പാലിക്കണമെന്നുള്ളതൊക്കെ ഇവിടെ കാറ്റിൽ പറന്നു. എന്താണെന്നറിയാൻ കടയുടെ വെളിയിലിറങ്ങി ഒരുത്തനോട് കാര്യം തിരക്കി.

ഓഹോ! അപ്പൊ അതാണ് കഥ. അയാൾ അയാൾക്ക് വേണ്ടപ്പെട്ടവർക്ക് മാത്രം സാധനങ്ങൾ പങ്കിട്ടു കൊടുക്കുന്നു. ചേരിയിലെ പാവങ്ങൾ ഇന്നും പട്ടിണി. എവിടെയും കാശുള്ളവൻ തിന്നും, പാവപ്പെട്ടവനെന്നും പട്ടിണി. അത് കോറോണയായാലും കോളറയായാലും.

ദിവസക്കൂലിക്കാർ എങ്ങനെ ജീവിക്കുന്നെന്ന് ഏതെങ്കിലും മന്ത്രിയോ രാജാവോ ഇവിടെ വന്നന്വേഷിക്കുന്നുണ്ടോ? നിയമങ്ങളും ചട്ടങ്ങളും ഉണ്ടാക്കിയാൽ മാത്രം പോരാ അത് നടപ്പാക്കുന്നുണ്ടോ എന്ന് കൂടെ അന്വേഷിക്കേണ്ടത് നിങ്ങടെ കടമയല്ലേ? എന്നൊക്കെ ഉറക്കെ വിളിച്ചു കൂവണമെന്ന് തോന്നി അയാൾക്ക്. എന്നാൽ, രാജ്യദ്രോഹി എന്ന് മുദ്ര കുത്തി തന്നെ കല്ലെറിയുന്ന രംഗം ആലോചിച്ചപ്പോൾ അയാൾ അത് വേണ്ടെന്നു വച്ചു. താനൊക്കെ ന്യൂനപക്ഷമായത് കൊണ്ട് ഒരു പക്ഷേ ഇതല്ല ഇതിനപ്പുറവും കാണേണ്ടി വരും. അതിനാൽ മൗനമാണ് വിഡ്ഢികൾക്കും ഭൂഷണം.

വാടക ചോദിച്ചു ഇന്നലെയും ആ ഷെട്ടി വിളിച്ചിരുന്നു. അയാളൊരു ഹൃദയമുള്ളവനായത് കൊണ്ട് ഒരു മാസത്തെ വാടക വേണ്ടെന്ന് പറഞ്ഞുവെങ്കിലും എല്ലാ മാസവും അത് നടക്കില്ലല്ലോ. അയാൾക്കും കുടുംബമില്ലേ. ഇവിടന്നൊന്ന് നാട്ടിലേക്ക് പോകാമെന്നു വെച്ചാൽ അതിർത്തികളെല്ലാം മണ്ണിട്ട് മൂടിയില്ലേ...

അങ്ങനെ ഓരോന്നാലോചിച്ചു കടത്തിണ്ണയിൽ പോലീസിന്റെ അടിയും കാത്തിരിക്കുമ്പോഴാണ് നാട്ടിൽ നിന്ന് വിളി വന്നത്.

"ഇക്കാ, ഇവര് ആസ്പത്രിക്ക് പൂവാൻ കടത്തി വിടണില്ലിക്കാ. ഉമ്മിച്ചിക്ക് തീരെ വയ്യ. മംഗലാപുരത്തിക്ക് കൊണ്ടോണംന്നാ ഡോക്ടറ് പറഞ്ഞെ. പക്ഷേങ്കില് ഇവരങ്ങോട്ടു വിടണില്ലിക്കാ. ഒന്ന് പറ ഇവരോട് ഇങ്ങള് പറ..." ഭാര്യയാണ്. റഷീദ് ഐസ് പോലെ തണുക്കാൻ തുടങ്ങി.

വിറങ്ങലിച്ച കൈകൾക്കുള്ളിലെ ഫോണിലൂടെ അയാൾ കെഞ്ചി, "ഒന്ന് കടത്തി വിടൂ...പ്ലീസ്. വയസ്സായവരാണ്. ദയവ് ചെയ്ത് അവരെ വിടൂ. ഒരു തവണത്തേക്ക്..." അയാളുടെ കണ്ണുകളിൽ നിന്നൊഴുകിയ ഉപ്പു വെള്ളത്തിൽ വാക്കുകൾ മുങ്ങിത്താണു. അയാളുടെ വാക്കുകൾ ആരും കേട്ടില്ല. അവ പല പല ബഹളങ്ങളിൽ വായുവിലൂടെ കാറ്റത്ത് പറന്നു മറ്റെങ്ങോ പോയി. അര മണിക്കൂറിനുള്ളിൽ കൂടെ ഉമ്മിച്ചിയും...

ഓരോ മനുഷ്യരെ പോലെ ഓരോ സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങളും ജില്ലകളും എന്തിന് കോളനികൾ പോലും സ്വാർത്ഥതയുടെ മണ്ണിട്ട് മൂടിയിരിക്കുന്നു. ഈ വൃത്തികെട്ട വൈറസ് ലോകത്തെ മുഴുവനും മണിച്ചിത്രത്താഴിട്ടു പൂട്ടിയിരിക്കുന്നു. ഇതിനുള്ളിൽ എത്ര പേർ പേടിച്ചും പട്ടിണി കിടന്നും അസുഖം ബാധിച്ചും മരിക്കുന്നെന്ന കണക്കുകളും നമ്മൾ മണ്ണിട്ട് മൂടും. ആശുപത്രികൾക്ക് പകരം അമ്പലങ്ങളും പള്ളികളും പണി തീർക്കും. എന്നിട്ട് നമ്മൾ മതങ്ങളെയും ദൈവങ്ങളേയും രാഷ്ട്രീയ നേതാക്കളെയും പൂവിട്ട് പൂജിക്കും. വീണ്ടും അടുത്ത മഹാമാരിക്ക് വേണ്ടി ലോക രാഷ്ട്രങ്ങൾ കാത്തിരിക്കും, ഒന്നിനു പിറകെ ഒന്നായി നമ്മളെയെല്ലാം മണ്ണിട്ട് മൂടും. പക്ഷേ, അതുവരെ ജീവിക്കണമല്ലോ എന്നോർത്ത് അയാൾ വീണ്ടും കണ്ണീരു പൊഴിച്ചു.

The Real Superheroes

Once upon a time there lived a monster named Cancer. And you all know rest of the story. Many of us would have seen it's worst faces. I ...