02 February 2009

What a Little Moonlight Can Do.


Holy Crap. Diwali is freaking awesome.

I’m kind of struggling at the moment to remember what else I did today… other than set off fire crackers and eat sweets…
The ringing in my ears from all the loud pops and bangs is going to be with me for a few days.

Last night I started washing some laundry by hand. I’ve strung up a little clothes line with the twine I brought.

The kids were very happy to see me this morning, as I rode up peddling on the rickety school bicycle with Mukesh on the back; trying to steer and keep balance with someone riding on the ‘backseat’ is a lot harder than all the locals make it out to look.

Nikesh suggested last night that I try teaching or helping the boys with their English, today.
Not knowing how to teach an English class, I asked them to open their work books for a lesson on reading comprehension; I remembered how much I hated these classes as a kid.
I noticed right away that most of them began expressing similar feelings; they weren’t interested at all as they quickly got up and left with all but 3-kids remaining…

Talk about utter failure!
To make things worse, I began feeling like the three that did stay, just wanted to hear me read to them a story.

The three boys began shouting out the answers to the questions before I was even finished with the question… while I was happy that the boys were answering the questions correctly something seemed off.
It quickly became apparent that the reason the others had left was because they had heard and read the same stories over and over again, doing these lessons so many times that they had even memorized the answers to their workbook questions.

They were bored.

Catching on to their ‘game’, I decided to mix it up a little bit and started asking new comprehension questions; their confused little faces all looking up at me, ‘what did the Piped Piper do when the Villagers refused to pay him?’


‘he got made fun of… and was mad!’
‘they didn’t pay him!’
‘he played his flute and stole the babies and kids’

A crowd started to gather again as tiny arms started to rise with questions and eager answers. After running out of new comprehension questions for them, I decided to interject a vocabulary lesson by asking them if they knew what some of the key words, from the story, meant.
I think every English teacher that I have ever had, would have been proud of me at that moment.

After lunch, two boys, Santosh and Lakshaman taught me how to count to 10, and then to 100 by tens, in Hindi:

One = Ick
Two = Doe
Three = Tin
Four = Char
Five = Panch
Six = Chhao
Seven = Saat
Eight = Aat
Nine = Now
Ten = Deese

Twenty = Beese
Thirty = Teese
Fourty = Chaleese
Fifty = Pachas
Sixty = Sadh
Seventy = Sattar
Eighty = Assi
Ninety = Nabbe
Hundred = Sau

After an hour, I was proudly counting forward and backwards, and answering absurd questions…

‘brother, how many sweets will you eat tonight?’
‘Saat Sau! YUM, YUM!’

The three of us laughed hysterically with each silly response.

I am remembering what Nikesh had shared with me last night; I have to agree that after just two days with the boys, I’ve learned so much from them and am so very touched by the genuine happiness these kids have in life.

I’m very happy that I have been able to spend time with them while the school is on holiday; it’s giving me a chance to see what the Ao Zora School is really about.

Diwali tonight was much more formal than last night; tiny oil lamps were lit and placed along the edge of the building. The festivities started off on the roof with lots of fire crackers and sparklers, with everyone having so much fun.
It was later moved downstairs to where the Landlords held a small ceremony. All the kids and adults were singing songs as the Lady Landlord lit more oil lamps.
I had read last night, that the sisters are honored on one of the nights of Diwali. The Lady Landlord went around with a saffron powdered dye, marking each brother’s forehead.

I was a part of the family.
Vinod tied on my wrist, a red and white string. [I still have it on my wrist]

After the ceremonies, the sparklers and fire crackers were busted out again. Nikesh and Vinod brought out the humongous finale, which they insisted I light it.
It was beautiful… All of it.

I’m exhausted.
I don’t know how Nikesh and the rest of the staff do it… especially during the regular school year, 6day schedule.

(What a Little Moonlight Can Do - Billie Holiday)

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