Thursday, September 20, 2012

THE NIGHT DUTY









Today is the first visarjan – of one-and-a-half days’. So, my eight-o’clock-batch students wanted a day off. I could take some rest and reach late. 


At nine, when I reached near my classes, I thought of taking a glimpse of the Ganesh murti decorated just outside… There was no one around; so, I thought I could peacefully spend a moment inside the pandal.

 
My heart spontaneously smiled the moment I reached the pandal. Three kids – aged between eleven to fifteen – were fast asleep inside! 


“Good morning,” my smiling heart wished them. Immediately, the youngest one jumped. “What’s the time, sir,” he asked me. “Nine, beta,” I told him.


“Oh, no!” he seemed worried and started pulling the blankets off his friends’ faces. “Nine it is; we have missed the school!”


The other two pulled over the blankets and turned to other side. The youngest one decided to sit down for a while…


The school, any way, had gone for a toss!



I am a teacher. At times, I make a big fuss about my students skipping the lectures. Often, they cite the reasons such as the pooja at home or the visarjan… or even the b’day. I do not easily buy their reasons. I give a short – sometimes, a long – sermon. “You can’t miss the class.” Period.


But, they do!


My short… or, long… sermon, aside!


So, these three kids, who were given their night-duty, last night, had missed their school! 





Ganesh should not be left alone… 


They had volunteered 


to give Him the company!











My smiling heart took me back to the time when I was a kid like these three.


The youth in our village had become famous for decorating a giant Christmas crib. Weeks of preparation, most of the times overnight, and, finally, when the crib would be ready, hundreds of visitors would make a bee-line to behold the magnificent work done by the youth. The Christmas-star itself would be of a Guinness-book size… all hand-made with bamboo and white cloth, gigantic... and it would tower over even the tallest tree around!


And, we, little kids? What was our role?


We were the ‘side-kicks’. The big-boys would, often, give us some sundry work and we would take great pride in carrying it out… Yes, all fired-up with excitement! The most exciting duty used to be... yes, the night-duty!


The Baby Jesus should not be left alone… We kids loved to give Him company in the chilly, December-nights!


The next morning, the school would go for a toss… 


Hey, the Baby Jesus must be smiling, up there... behind the stars!!!


So, kiddos… don’t worry about the school, tomorrow. You can write in your calendar the reason for leave:
“As I was on a night-duty to give company to Bal-Ganesh…!”


Trust me, your teacher will surely smile…!



GERALD D’CUNHA


Pics.: 1. Shaila D'Souza
         2. Manohar Kadam



5 comments:

Nitin Rao said...

Very cute... brought back my innocent days. Thank you.

Nitin

Anonymous said...

Great write-up. Meeta

JEENA said...

You have evoked the child in us so well. Lovely post. Jeena Sagar

Vishal Nanda said...

Happy to read this post, Gerry. Touching.

Vishal

Kewal Madan said...

Lovely post. touching. Kewal