Happy I day

There is a post waiting to be published but I have decided to hold on to it, maybe till just tomorrow, as I wanted today’s post to be one of celebration and joy and the post I refer to was to borrow the words of a friend the kind that drives one to utter despair. But today is Independence day and in spite of everything, it is a day we need to honour. I must admit that two days back I would have been at a complete loss to find something to share with you but the God of Lesser beings decided otherwise and gifted me another perfect day.

Normally Independence day and other such celebrations are closed door affairs in the children’s boarding school but this year the school decided to launch a Literacy Mission in the slums near the school and were graceful enough to ask us to associate ourselves with them. The mission was to be launched after the I day school festivities. We were on cloud nine as this is the very area where Planet Why was to be located. And I must admit to be privy to what happens in school on days where parents are not allowed was indeed a rare treat.

The day was cloudy and humid but we were hoping and against hope that the rains would not play spoil sport. We reached bright and early and were greeted by a walk of honour where children held little flags and wished us Happy I Day! Utpal was one of them and I was terribly proud to see him smile and wave his little flag. We were then escorted to the tent where the show would take place. I must admit that I was a little weary as I wondered how long we would have to wait for the proverbial chief guest. We were seated on the front row making us sort of VIPs! A short while later a young student came to ask us to come for the flag hoisting and we knew the real VVIPs had arrived. The flag was hoisted as the school band played the national anthem and then there was a march past.

Once we were again seated the show began. I must again admit that I was on the look out for our kids and wondered when they would appear on stage. We had seen some of them all dressed up and were eager to see them perform. There were a few items by the older children and then it was time for the little ones and there they were Aditya, Meher, Yash and little Manisha who had been in school for barely a month. They performed what is called an action song to perfection and my eyes misted – as they always seem to do in such occasions – as I watched them dance and sing. It was a touching petition to God and I think that the God of Lesser beings was moved too as the heavens opened and it started pouring. The tent came down and every one ran for cover. My heart stopped. What would happen now. What about all the kids who had not performed yet. I dared not ask, too scared of the answer I may receive. I just waited with bated breath for what would happen next.

We were soon asked to move to the Principal’s room where the customary ‘refreshment’ was hurriedly served. There was tea and cold drinks and an array of eats. Then some time later as we were still guessing what would happen next the good news: the show was to continue in the dining hall. I was truly impressed by the speed at which everything had been reorganised. The show as the young MC said must go on! Babli danced in a lively number on national integration and Vicky was part of an enthralling yoga display. A few more songs and a great performance by the school band closed the show. There were a few speeches and then it was time to go. But the day was not quite over as the school had planned to launch its literacy mission on that day.

It was still raining but we were all very excited. The school had identified a nearby slum cluster and children and parents were waiting in spite of the pelting rain. A distribution of pens and notebooks had been planned but soon we realised that there were far more children then notebooks! The number of children was overwhelming and each one wanted to be part of the programme. Parents were eager too as the only municipal school in the vicinity did not really seem to be working as there were more then 80 kids in each class and not much teaching, and many children just did not go to school.

The literacy programme envisaged by the school was to be held on week ends when students would come and teach their little underprivileged peers. It was undoubtedly a great idea but we knew from past experience that much more was required. What was needed was an outreach programme like the ones we ran and I knew what had to be done. We had to start one as soon a possible. My mind went on overdrive trying to work out the logistics: how to start, when to begin etc. And as innumerable thoughts crowded my mind the rain stopped and the sun came out and somehow I felt that the God of Lesser Beings smiling.

I had been given my very special I day gift, one that showed me that for me the show was no way near over.

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