By Ishmeet Kaur Chaudhry
Anisha: The children need education.
Beryl: Who will teach them? Without fathers and elder siblings, who will work and pay for their education? Are they ready to go to school after such a disaster?
Anisha: Look they will never be ready, to lose your fathers and family members is never easy. How can you be ready? You can never be ready? Only once you have an activity that will keep you occupied, will you be able to gradually move out of that situation and eventually move forward.
Navya: But who will pay for the school and their education? The government schools are no good. The children need to be tended by someone who can understand their situation.
Ansiha: Can we all contribute for the time being? Can we have a makeshift arrangement for a couple of months, maybe a year, and once our children are ready to return to private schools, can we do home schooling? I am ready to lend my house for this. It is a matter of a couple of hours every day. This way, we don’t have to pay anyone. We can have a timetable and take turns to teach them.
Beryl: I am good with English and Social Sciences; I can teach them. But do you think that children of different ages should be in the same class? Will that work?
Navya: It won’t matter, we can ask the older students to guide the younger ones and have some special sessions for the older ones separately as well.
Anisha: Yes, the idea is to keep them busy and help them come out of their suffering, recover from their loss. It will take them years to forget this accident. But remember all of us are together in this, all forty families.
Navya: My younger son fears getting onto a bridge. The other day he dreamt that he was in the same van in which the men and boys of the town were going to work. He dreamt that the moment they got onto the bridge, it cracked. He woke up and asked me about the exact point on the bridge, where the van was, when it collapsed. Did it collapse right in the beginning or when they were in the center of it? I wonder about it myself; I have no answer for it. (Wipes her tears)
Beryl: They say it all happened when they were just about to cross it, they had nearly made to the other end and then two trucks got on it. The bridge couldn’t take the load. Some people heard the loud sound and saw it going down slowly. (Takes a deep breath)
Anisha: We will keep searching for these answers throughout our life. I just had one son and he has gone now. I live thinking what my husband, Ankit would have done if it were me and Anvay, my son. I tell myself that he wouldn’t have given up and he would have continued to live by helping others. His memories are my strength. When I see these children, I feel Anvay is playing with them. I still worry about his future and that is why I want these children to study, I want them to have a future. I don’t want them to get lost in their grief. Ankit built this house for me, however modest, I can use it for the school.
Navya: Let’s gather all mothers in the evening and talk to them. Maybe, Mihira can teach them Maths or we can request the shopkeeper Akash to teach them accounts for a couple of days. If all agree let’s come up with a weekly timetable and make a start.
Anisha: We need people who are sensitive towards are children to attend to them.
Beryl: My cousin teaches in another village and the schoolteacher in the Government school can help us get books. I will talk to her tomorrow morning.
Navya: We need to work with our children as if we are giving them personal tuitions.
Anisha: True, I don’t think sending them to any institution could work well on them now. We need to talk to them, counsel them, allow them to grieve and finally show them worth of their own lives. We need to go slow with them.
From the next morning children began coming to Anisha’s house, the mothers made a weekly timetable, while some mothers took time to teach the kids on certain days, the others went to work and earn for them. All of them took turns and made a great difference in the children’s life.
By doing so, the mothers were healing too. For them the very desire to build the future of their children, the hope to see them rise tomorrow was enough motivation to move on. They had saved their children from falling for drugs or get into petty crimes by ignoring them or even by sending them to institutions like schools where other children and teachers would have been insensitive to their grief.
Eventually, in a year, these children were strong enough to face the world and were ready to go to a formal school. They did not need anyone to care for them anymore or anyone to be sensitive towards them. They could now make their own way, fight for their rights, rather they were prepared to stand for others by empathizing with them.
By Ishmeet Kaur Chaudhry