Our Independence Day special trip to the Vidya Nivas School was scheduled on 14th Aug, 2008, which happens to be Pakistan Independence day. It was scheduled so because we had to attend the Indian Independence day celebrations as well as the College’s Birthday function on the following day held at our college.
Our Class representative, Patricia, had collected Rs 10/- from each of our classmates to buy gifts for the children studying in that school. She had bought pencils, rubbers, scales, sharpeners and chocolates for each student and also 5 prizes for winners of the competitions which we planned to conduct among the students on that day. Along with the competitions we also planned to perform a dance and a group song. But the dance was cancelled in the last minute due to technical problems. “But nothing can stop us.” Our trip was about to be advanced to 13th Aug 2008, as the Maths Additionals were also scheduled to do a program on 14th. Finally we were given permission to do it on the same day as Additionals, i.e., on 14th.
The Day arrived. It rained in the morning as it did in the previous trip. “But nothing can stop us.” The day’s last hour was a star hour. The volunteers were finalized in that hour. Patricia, Nisha, Radhika, Mira, Sahithya and I were the volunteers for the day’s function. Shakthi couldn’t join us because she had to go to the hospital as her friend’s father was ill and admitted in hospital. It’s quite sad. We had to continue without her in the group song. We practiced for few minutes in the last hour. Then we were planning the games which could be conducted.
“Ding Dong… Ding Dong…” The announcements started. We started packing our things. The bell rang. Mira, Sahithya and I proceeded to the bus stop. Patricia told us that she had some work and on completing it she would join us at the school. She left in her 2 wheeler. As we were waiting in the bus stop for 18a or 45B to arrive, we found Nisha and Radhika missing. We thought that may be they weren’t going to join us in the trip. We waited and waited. No bus turned up. “But nothing can stop us.” We decided to cross and board 29C to Mylapore Tank and then board 21G from there to Kotturpuram. We crossed the road and were happy to see Nisha and Radhika waiting there! We all got into a crowded 29C bus. The driver was driving wildly. He kept speeding up and applying sudden breaks. As we didn’t get any seats to sit, we found it very difficult to travel standing with this kind of driving. Finally by the Mercy of God we arrived safely at Mylapore Tank.
The usually frequent 21G seemed to have taken the day off! We waited and waited for what seemed to be eternity, at Mylapore tank, but there was no sign of 21G. It was either 21 or 21G cut service which arrived, whose last stop was Mandaveli. By mistake we got into a yellow board 21G which we learnt from the conductor that it wouldn’t go to Kotturpuram. So we got down at the other end of the tank and, came back to our stop walking and grinning at our ignorance. “But nothing can stop us.” We decided to call Ms. Mercy ma’am for help. Mira called Ms. Mercy ma’am. She spoke for about 5 minutes with ma’am describing our condition. After Mira finished talking, she told us that ma’am said that she would do something about it. It seems she had suggested that we could take an auto to that place. Mira told ma’am that we didn’t have enough money with us. We waited for about 10 more minutes. We didn’t get any call for ma’am. So we decided to call her back. Mira gave ma’am a call once again. After repeating a half a dozen times “ok ma’am”, she ended the call. She then exclaimed that ma’am will be arriving shortly. She also mentioned that this time her voice was quite different. It surprised all of us. We became quite nervous. We wondered why ma’am was coming. We thought that may be ma’am would give us a lift in her car. The very thought made us happy. Then we started looking out for the cars approaching the stop instead of the buses. Meanwhile Patricia had reached the school. She called us and was disappointed when she came to know that we were still stranded at Mylapore Tank. She told us to come ASAP.
Ma’am arrived in a few minutes. It was very sweet and kind of ma’am to come all the way to help us out. Mira, excited, opened the door. Ms. Mercy ma’am was seated in the driver’s seat and Sr. Rosy was sitting next to her. Five cannot be possibly accommodated in the car. “But nothing can stop us.” Ms. Mercy ma’am graciously took Rs 200/- from her purse and gave it to us generously for our auto fare. We were all touched by her kindness. We five immediately got into an auto who charged Rs 50/- to Kotturpuram. In another few minutes we reached Kotturpuram.
We got down. Mira paid the auto man the fare. Thanks to Ms. Mercy ma’am once again. Patricia was waiting outside for us. The teachers and children welcomed us with smiling faces. They never complained about our late arrival. We were happy to see them once again. It was already ten minutes past two. The school closes by three. So we started as soon as we reached. Before we started the teachers mentioned that the Maths Additionals had done a good job in the morning. It motivated us to give our best.
First I asked them what was special about that day. As they only knew that the following day was India’s Independence Day, I enlightened them that that day was Pakistan’s Independence Day. We heard from the teachers that the morning team had already given a lot of information to the children about our Freedom struggle. So we just asked a few questions for which we got correct answers.
Next we asked the children to come forward to sing songs. We felt that it was better than we performing, as they will be involved in the singing which would make them enjoy much more. Initially few girls came forward to sing Tamil rhymes. Their voices were enchanting. When the volunteering seemed to seize we suggested that they can also sing film songs. A number of children got up to volunteer. There was a good response. They sang “Dole Dole” and “Pokiri Pongal” from “Pokiri”, “Maduraikku Pogathadee” from “Azhagiya Tamizh Magan” [I guess the children there are “Ilaya Thalapathy” Dr.Vijay’s fans] and “Yemmaadi Aathaadi” from “Vallavan”. A cute boy named Sriram energetically and beautifully danced for the songs. His friends cheered for him. They also joyfully sang “Jingle Bells.” Luckily I had bought a camera with me. I took photos of them singing merrily together.
Then we agreed go outside and play. First was “Passing the Parcel.” We made the children form a big circle and stand close to each other. We gave one of the five prizes as the object to pass on from one to another. Patricia stood in the centre closing her eyes. The rule was, when Patricia is clapping the prize is passed from to another; when she stops clapping who ever has the prize in their hand is eliminated. On continuing in this manner who ever is left is declared as the winner. The students took two rounds to understand the game. When they understood the game well, they started playing it enthusiastically. A girl won it successfully.
Next we conducted running race for the 1st and 2nd standard. Again a girl succeeded in winning the first place. “Bunny Jumping” race followed. But the children found it difficult to do bunny jumps. They complained that the stony floor hurt them. So we changed it to hopping race. Once again a girl won!!! Then we had musical chairs for the senior students in the school. They played enthusiastically and this time a boy emerged victorious. I took a lot of photos during the course of the games as well as when the winners received their prize from their teacher.
As we had no time for another game, we gave the remaining one prize to the deserving Sriram who impressed everyone by his stylish dance movements. In all the games I observed that when a child was eliminated or was made out he/ she neither argued nor cried. Even though they went out of the game they still cheered for their friends who were still in the game. When I was a child I always used to argue when I was made out. If my arguments weren’t accepted I used to cry and throw and break the things in the vicinity. Even today I argue if someone says I am “out” in cricket. I don’t readily agree unless and until it’s obvious. I was amazed at their attitude at such a young age. It shows that they have been brought up in a much disciplined manner. These things really surprised me. I think I should definitely learn from them.
As a final act, we happily distributed pencils, rubbers, scales, sharpeners and chocolates among them. They gleefully received them from us. They thanked us with lot of gratitude. We closed the program with National Anthem. We were pleased to see them sing with us. Then with the gifts the kids started home. We signed the register and bid them good bye and left the school.
We all got into 21G. We all got seats to sit. Nisha, Radhika and I got into the “Hot Seat”!!!???!!! It was next to the driver, to his left. We had hot air coming out from the gear box. It was quite hot and hence the name! Mira and Sahithya together, sat one seat behind the driver. We were conversing with each other animatedly and even took photos inside the bus. Mira got down at Mandaveli. Nisha, Radhika, Sahithya and I got down at Mylapore Tank. We were very tired and hungry. We went to Adyar Ananda Bhavan, which was right behind the bus stop. We again took photos at Adyar Ananda Bhavan because we wanted these memorable incidents and sweet moments to be stored safely forever. We ordered Dahi Puri, Rasagulla, Rose Milk and Chenna Samosa. We shared and ate together gleefully. Thanks to Ms. Mercy ma’am once again. We used a part of her money to pay the bill. We unanimously agreed to return Sister’s money first on Monday and say a million thanks to her timely help
We went back to the bus stop. Nisha and Radhika got into 29C. Sahithya and I crossed the road. I left Sahithya in 5B stop and started walking home. As I reached I saw 1 missed call of Sahithya. I called her back and learnt that she had got into a 5B bus and is safely heading home. All ended well. I think this is most unforgettable Pre-independence day celebrations I had participated.
JAI HIND !