On 19th August, 2008, it was Group One’s turn to visit “Vidya Nivas”. Mira, Sahithya and I weren’t much prepared for this trip as we had just made a Special Appearance! [Visit] on 14th August for Independence Day celebrations. But the very thought of those kids increased our enthusiasm.
At 1 p.m. we started walking towards the DMS. One among us suggested going to the school by auto but the majority [including me] rejected the idea right away. On reaching DMS we boarded 18A and got down at Anna University. After a long wait, 21G arrived. We reached the school by 2p.m.
We were disappointed to see many absentees. The school seemed almost empty. Vignesh was absent again. I heard from Lokesh that Vignesh was not well. I was told that Vignesh had to fulfil a religious vow and accordingly he had pierced his tongue with a VEL (small spear) and also walked over fire (“Thee Midhi”). After the ritual he had developed fever and could not attend school. I felt sorry for him. I asked Lokesh to meet him some time after school hours to enquire about his health [and prayed that Vignesh must get well soon!]. That day I really missed Vignesh and his mischievous pranks.
Lokesh wanted me to teach him a Tamil lesson titled “The Parrot and the Crow”. He was quite restless. In order to make him concentrate and learn I devised a new method of teaching. I made him read one sentence at a time; explained it’s meaning in simple Tamil; and made him draw on the board what he understood. For example, the first two lines spoke about a mango tree which was very big, having wide branches and plenty of mangoes. On understanding the meaning of the line he immediately raced towards the board to draw a big mango tree with lot of ripe mangoes hanging from it. [Thanks Lithiya, for sharing the board with Lokesh]. Then he came back eagerly to read the next line to know what was going to happen next and what he would have to draw on the board next. As we proceeded learning the lesson in this manner, he drew more and more on the board depicting the story. His drawings, though unprofessional, were cute and as good as the ones appearing in children comics like Tinkle. He completely enjoyed the process of learning the lesson. He was able to relate the facts in the story with what he had learnt from his mother and sister. At few places, like in the list of uses of Neem leaves, he was able to add few facts which were not mentioned in the lesson. I was surprised by his general knowledge! Initially he was struggling a little bit in reading, but as the same words were repeated in the lesson, he gradually picked up pace.
After we completed the lesson, Lithiya and I joined together and made Lokesh and the other students draw whatever they wished on the board. A girl first went to the board and rubbed what Lokesh had drawn earlier. He initially grew furious, but within seconds forgave her and started drawing on the board along with her. That’s how kids are! They don’t carry things far. (Something adults seem to have forgotten). One of the girls started drawing a flag pole. Immediately everyone started drawing a pole and Indian flag. Honestly, Lokesh’s flag was The Best! He gave it a 3-dimensional appearance and made it look as though it was really flying high in the air.
It was 3p.m. and time to bid adieu. I left by the usual bus and reached home, after a tiring day, with my mother welcoming me with a cooooool drink !