The Home and the Garden
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
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
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.
_ . _