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The  Home and the Garden

by Shridhar KAMBLI

Shridhar KAMBLI



I am a teacher of a primary school located in a beautiful village situated in a place far from a city.  The tiny village resembled to a well-maintained huge garden with serene and cool breeze of fresh air blowing all the time. The farming in the village was so abundant that at every place, there was vegetation and greenery. The beetle trees and coconut trees were poking high into the sky and seen competing each other with their new tender light green leaves emerging atop. The temple, supposedly built in 17th century, nevertheless well maintained due to unstinting quality of stone masonry was situated right at the centre of village and belonged to Lord Ganesh - the elephant headed God worshipped by everyone for human prosperity. The school building is just across the single lane coal-tar road not well maintained although at least few public buses have been plying on them daily. The school was built out of local donation and named after the investing family. A stream of rivulet has been flowing parallel to the road all along and a series of paddy field cultivation was taking place adjacent to this riverbank. It was in this school where I have been teaching over five years.

I was teaching students of Year 3 to Year 6, the subject of Marathi, the local language. It is the year-end break, all children had given their tests and they were relaxed but were anxiously waiting for their yearly report of performance.  After the examinations, I sat for checking the written answer sheets for year 5 standard and gathered the bunch of papers of my favourite Marathi subject.  While checking all day through, I stopped checking further but then I came across an answer sheet that was beautifully written and impressive at once. Seeing at it, I thought of assessing this answer sheet also, as I found the handwriting very familiar and promptly recognised it, belonging to the boy, who is brilliant in all subject but too shy to display. There was this mandatory essay writing on "My Home and the Garden" written by that boy impressed me, the most.   The essay reads as below:

"My name is Palooka.  I live with my father, mother and two-year-old sister in a small house. Our house although small is the most beautiful in the entire village and stands right across the rivulet facing to the grand old temple of Lord Ganesh.  It has two small rooms, a kitchen, a room for worship, and a lounge with a cool and shady verandah and a beautiful garden surrounding the house. Small merry gold plants, blossoming with orange coloured flowers, fresh and bulky lace the house. Lush green plants of several varieties that would make the little flora museum at one place adore entire garden. Several tall coconut, Casuarina and few mango trees cover the sides of polygonal shaped garden. At other end, there were banana trees flocked to each other giving birth to new one by sacrificing their own existence. In the midst of the garden has a well, which is not so deep but lots of live springs in it. It has water lift pulleys erected at two sides and water - wheel leading to tiny waterways to the plants and trees in different direction. In the evenings all three of us my mother, sister and myself keenly waiting for my father's return from work. My mother prepares tea and snacks for all of us and we all enjoy sitting in the majestic verandah.  It was Saturday an early off from school, an early off for my father from his work and long evening for all of us to enjoy. The sun was shining bright and as usual getting ready to have a break by setting in the mountains, and all of a sudden black clouds gather in the sky, suddenly there was lightning followed by thunder. As it started raining my sister asked my company to play in the rain and I have promptly agreed. As the rain continued pouring, mother got worried since my father had not taken umbrella and that he would get wet.  When we saw father returning home dripping, a little delayed than usual because of the rain, all of us were elated with joy. It rained cats and dogs for an hour and then stopped. Myself and my father made paper boats and sailed them in the streams flowing in the garden.  Mother has been making frantic calls from the kitchen to be careful and not to get wet.  My father and myself did not pay attention to what she says and continues enjoying in the rainwater dripping from the leaves and the rooftop of the house.  There I have noticed the banana stalk which we had planted that bore a flower and tiny bananas have pepped out from the petals.  My little sister screams with happiness and runs to tell this to her parents "Aai.. & Baba", splashing the dirty water every where. All of us got completely soaked in muddy water.  Mother came out and gave me a stern look from top to bottom, and then looks at father who stands in the verandah holding my little sister in his arms. My mother forgets her anger and all of them run in the garden to see the banana stalk bearing a flower and tiny bananas coming out from petals. As the night fell, my mother showered me  a nice bath and all of us sat in the verandah enjoying our tea and warm bhajiya snacks."

Reading the boy's essay, I was deeply immersed with the scene and had a sense of having visualised entire situation and then suddenly realizes that it is the description of the house the boy has done in his essay. I once again looked at the name of the boy and the location of the house as narrated on the answer sheet, as I felt curious to know the whereabouts of this boy and decided to visit his house.  Next day I walked down the streets of the village in search for the boy, by his description of his house in the village.  I was disappointed, since there was no similar house near the village temple and no boy by that name lived nearby. As the time passes, I forgot about it, thinking I can meet him in the next class when the schools reopen.

I had second disappointment not to have seen the boy in the next class and then found from the school records that the boy did not continue and had left the school.  One fine day in a nearby town, a raggy boy -although looking pale but twinkling eyes with fading hopes, came to me and greeted with humble voice and profound respects.  I couldn't immediately recognise him. The boy introduced himself and I quickly realised that he is Palooka, the same boy he had searched in the tiny village, for whom he was enthusiastically looking for meeting in the house described in the essay.  We have had an exciting chat for a short while and then I asked him about his sister, mother and father, his house and the garden with banana stalk, I told him that he must have already eaten the bananas and many more must be bearing flowers.  The boy lifted his pale face up and looked at my eyes and says Guruji- the teacher..! Are you talking about my family in the essay I wrote in the answer sheet ..?, which house and which garden, that was all my wish and imagination. I don't have anybody in this world as I am left alone to the care of destiny and nature, I am an orphan child, brought up in an orphanage under the rude care of orphanage staff.  I don't have my mother who will get worried if I get wet in the rain and the father who can make paper boats and plays with me, I don't have a house where I can stay, the garden I thought, no banana tree and I don't have a little sister too and so how would I have a garden.  I am alone all alone". And he collapsed on the floor unconscious.

_ . _

This issue is dedicated to Global Awareness: All The Shah's Men & "Strategy of Preemptive Strive"

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