Most people know me as a student. They know that I am currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in History. They also know I write. Other than that, I doubt they care.
Most of us are too self-absorbed to care too much about what some other person does. But then, sometimes… just sometimes, you meet someone who cares and so you tell them.
You let them see parts of you.
You make yourself available.
A couple of days ago, someone asked me what the best part of college was? What have I enjoyed the most thus far?I thought for a while and I couldn’t decide.
The new friends I had made, the college trip I went on, the different societies that I joined, the academics… I enjoyed all of these. But what did I enjoy the most?
That was when I realised that it wasn’t anything in itself that brought me the most joy. Rather, it was individual moments that make the biggest mark. Moments capture joy for they are intense, deep and real. Like when a tear rolled down my cheek after I listened to a talk on Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose, or when I realised I had made the right decision in choosing my subject. There were moments of laughter, happiness, contemplation, questioning and even plain boredom. Somehow though, all these small fractions of time add up and become a part of you in themselves.
So far, the best moments for me were at Vidya Jyoti, a social work initiative I have been volunteering at. Every Monday, Friday and sometimes Saturday, I go to an impoverished neighbourhood to teach three bright boys basic english. There’s lots of children there and I go with a team. We are all assigned different children to teach.
But then, it isn’t the teaching itself that stays imprinted on the pages of my heart. The children there are priceless. In their eyes, I see potential and everything the world could be for them. Their smiles and laughter despite the miserable conditions of their surroundings. Even in poverty, they have moments of joy. When I see that, my heart is touched. My faith in love and life renewed.
Sometimes I notice that my boys have gotten what I said and they remember what was taught. These are the moments that make my little contribution there worthwhile. Like when they remember to raise their hand before speaking, when they answer correctly or incorrectly, when they try, when they smile and tell me they want to study with me, when they see me from far off and shout B-E-T-H Beth!… those are the moments that whisper reassurance. Those are the moments that are the reason I teach.
I go to teach after long college days and to teach them, I have to spend time and effort to plan my lessons and to have activities ready for them. It’s not always easy and you do get tired, especially on days when they don’t want to behave or maybe, when they don’t understand what you’re teaching them. It’s exhausting especially if you’re a night owl like me (I barely sleep).
But then, you’re reminded of the beautiful moments and more importantly, you’re reminded of the children’s futures and all the dreams they have. That makes it all worth it. Two of my boys want to be doctors. Another wants to be a policeman.
I always loved that quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” When I see my boys at Vidya Jyoti, I see the future in the beauty of their dreams.
P.S. The image featured shows some of the children we teach while they were on a visit to our college. 🙂