Monday, October 17, 2011

THEY MADE MY DAY... AND NIGHT


“Good morning Gerry uncle,” it was Kshitij. It was a Monday morning, today. The 5-year-old Kshitij was fresh like a daisy and waiting for his school bus to come. His grandpa was giving him company. “Good morning, beta,” I ran my hand on Kshitij’s glowing cheeks, “You are a sweet boy.” “Say thank you uncle,” the grandpa prodded the little one. The little one obeyed with all his innocence.

 
Before I could take my next step, “Good morning Gerry uncle,” it was 9-year-old Soumya. “Good morning, Honey,” I caressed Soumya’s velvety hair. “So, going to have fun today in school?” “Yes uncle. They are going to take us out, today… But, I don’t know where.”


Before I was done with little Soumya, I saw my shirt being pulled from both the sides. “Good morning Gerry uncle,” it was 8-year-old Aniket from the left and 5-year-old Kushboo, Anikets’s sister, from the right. “Good morning Sweet Hearts,” I pulled both these angels close to me… as their mother smiled.


My day was done! “If this is not ‘richness’ in life, what else is?” I asked my heart on my way to my workplace. “There couldn’t have been a better start.”


Last evening, while I was buying something in a local store, I saw two little girls. Taanya and Lavanya. Both looked identical; but, they were not twins. Tanya was 8 and Lavanya was 7. But, they would behave in an identical manner. Yesterday, too, they did.


During the last Diwali vacation, many mothers had approached me to conduct a short course for children of this age group. Just to help them think, speak and behave in a better way. To put in the language of those mothers, to ‘develop the personalities’ of these little souls!


I went about it in my own way… and, twenty of them joined. My God, it was a blast, a chaos and madness - rather than a ‘Personality Development’ course! I would make them tell something on stage, dance, sing, complain… and act. I would show them very inspiring children’s movies which they would pester me to repeat…. On the last day, the mothers organized a small party – where, all these kids came in their best clothes. They took their certificates, thanked me…. Some of them had brought for me flowers, and our two chubby sisters had brought their hand-drawn thank you cards. I was touched by the end of it all. So innocent they were, so refreshing their memories.


So, last evening, the moment I spotted the two little girls, I spontaneously cried, “Hi Taanya… Hi Lavanya.” The two girls looked at each other. “Who is this old man?” the younger one asked the older in her sign language? “I don’t know,” it was clear from the older one’s sign language. “You remember me? I am Gerry sir… Remember, you used to come to my classes?” The girls stared at me as if to warn me, “Don’t mess with us; we will tell our mom.” I continued, “Remember, I had shown you the Horse movie – ‘Spirit’… remember, ‘3-Idiots’?...”


By then, the mother appeared on the scene and screamed, “Hi sir… How are you? These kids always remember you… They keep asking me, ‘When is sir going to start that class again?’ ”

I almost, fainted!


I had to either believe this mother or her two innocent angels. 


“Beta, ‘Hello sir’ bolo,” the graceful-looking grandma, who was along, reminded the two sisters, folding her hands before me with a ‘Namaste’.

The two stubborn sisters nodded their heads – one, left to right, and the other, right to left. It meant, “We refuse.”


“Sir, please start the class during this Diwali vacation, too; they love it,” the mother insisted. 


“I can feel it, ma’am,” I murmured in my crestfallen heart. “They really love it!”


That was beautiful. After all, they were so innocent and such honest children. If at all my grown-up ego was bruised, last evening, it was my problem. Nothing was wrong with the children. The little kids did not remember me… It only meant, they did not remember me. Nothing more than that. Anything more than that would have to come from my ego, I knew. So, I laughed it out… I loved the two sisters for all their honesty and innocence. I loved the mother who did exactly what, as a parent, I would have done… and I loved the grandma with the folded hands… which, though appeared to be a ‘Namaste’, also meant “I am so sorry sir. They are just kids; please don’t mind.”


How can I mind? I would love to have all those kids in my class not only during this Diwali vacation but any time in the future. I won’t mind asking the two little sisters, “Hi Sweet Hearts, do you remember me? I am Gerry sir… Do you remember ‘3-Idiots’?”


And, yes, I don’t mind at all their sign language – “Who?”


GERALD D'CUNHA

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