Today I nearly cried in class..It was one of those days throughout which I kept wanting to wake up and realise this was not happening to me.
The only reason I am writing this down is so that I can turn back to it later and wonder what makes me tick.
I had a new kid join my class today. His name is Raahail. Raahail does not want to be in school, so when the HM and his mom came to leave him in my class he was crying his eyes and lungs out. He does not come to school regularly (once a month is a tally i got from the HM). He joined school in 1st grade and shows up when he feels like it which is almost never. Today, since his name was going to be removed from the register his mother decided to drop him off at school. Raahail was crying and so was his mother! I told the mother sternly that her child needs the education and sent her back home.
I coaxed Raahail into my class and made him sit in the first bench. I got the kids to applaud and welcome him..gave him a star sticker on his hand but no – he just wanted to go home. I thought I will let him be and he will soon tire himself out. But Raahail clearly was no stranger to bawling, so like a seasoned player he continued to bawl – loudly enough for me to stop teaching. This was just as well considering no one was paying attention anyways midst this din.
So I went near Raahail to calm him down. He punched me – squarely in my stomach. I was surprised and with my nonexistent reflexes I forgot duck or cover. My students saw this and probably even learnt that I may not be that infallible after all. I went one step closer and he was thrashing about like a fish and hit me again. I held his arms long enough for him to calm down but not stop crying. I sat down next to him and trying to get him to talk and learn a little more about him. The other kids got bored and decided to keep themselves amused by being loud, noisy and throwing paper balls.
But not Venkatesh. He was angry. Quick intro: Venkatesh cannot read, has very poor vision, oodles of attitude and hardly any communication skills. He and I wage a silent battle every single day he is in school because I believe he is like an animal that needs to be broken with firm but non violent methods to be tamed and he believes that I am just another teacher, soon I will hit him and he will then be validated.
So Venkatesh did not like the fact that today I had my hands full with Raahail and he was barely getting any attention from me. So what does he do – he begins to throw his books one by one at Raahail. Raahail bawled louder and something in me snapped. I took Venkatesh by his hands and led him outside my class threatening to take him to grade 1 classroom because of his atrocious behaviour. He realised that today was not one of those days he and I could go on and on about him so he decided to cry. First softly and then using all his might. A couple of other teachers stepped out to see what the commotion was about. One of them went upto my class and opened the door. She saw 38 odd kids screaming and throwing paper balls at one another and 1 Raahail standing and screaming his lungs out saying he wants to go home. She walked up to me and in a saccharine tone said “maybe this is why not everyone is cut out to be a teacher” and she walked.
I let go of Venkatesh. I gave him the choice of sitting in any classroom and told him if he were to enter mine then he would have to think of why he behaved the way he did and how he would not do so again. I walked into class – cut points for all those who were throwing paper balls, wrote a math exercise on the board for the other kids to solve and went back to Raahail (who by the way was still crying 3 hours and counting)
I offered him a deal and told him to tell me what he does all day and if he sounded busy enough I would let him go.
So this is Raahail’s story (translated in English):
Me: What does your father do?
R: He drinks
Me: What work does he do?
R: He drinks
Me: So what do you do at home?
R: I go out, play with the puppy, roam around and go home
Me: Ok. So how will you learn? You need to learn right to become a grown up?
R: I know everything. I know A,B,C,D and I know 1-100 counting.
Me: But is that enough? How will you learn more to become a big man?
R: My father will teach me.
Me (totally zapped): How is that?
R: My father talks to me everyday for 1 hour. He told me I do not need to go to school. He will teach me everything.
Me: Look around you so many kids are there. They are all learning something. You also want to learn?
R: My father told me no need to go to school, if I listen to my father I will become a big man.
Me: So what does your father tell you?
Me: What about your mother?
R: She cries all the time.
Raahail left school today making sure to tell me that he will not be coming back tomorrow.