When I landed at my parent’s place last month, I was worried about my Mom’s health, since three years she isn’t keeping well and hardly walks. Over to that, just few days before my trip to hometown, my Mom fell down and hurt herself. I wasn’t sure how she would be? Was it very serious? series of doubts… But the moment I reached home and stepped out of the car, couple of students from my Mom’s class (not for profit class) saw me and ran towards me. They enthusiastically asked, “Didi (elder sister) when will you take the activity class or workshop for us.” And in the same breath continued,” Can we come tomorrow? We will let all the students know about your arrival. You will be here for few days, right?” I was speechless to see their eagerness to learn something from me or to spend time with me. Unfortunately, like always, this time I couldn’t immediately say ‘yes’ to them… but looking at their excitement, I just smiled and said,” I will let you know later.”
Every time I go to my parents place I plan different activities, games or workshops for all the class students so I knew they were expecting something similar from me. During my stay, almost every day some or other student would come home and ask me about the special class. Their interest and enthusiasm surely gave me immense satisfaction that whatever I was doing for them was worth it. Needless to say, all these kids just need a mentor to guide them- direct them and encourage them to go ahead. I felt happy that they found that mentor in me.
Fortunately in 7-8 days my Mom started feeling better and good part was she could walk a bit, as I really wanted her to be there for that special class/event to encourage me and bless me. Fortunately everything was in place now to plan that special class but then my personal commitments didn’t allow me to conduct anything. Days went by & just two more days left for my departure. I was kind of disappointed that this time I wouldn’t be able to conduct the class for my Mom’s class students. Those who came to request me again I politely explained to them about my commitments and apologised. Even though I said sorry to them, I felt unhappy and unsatisfied, I thought that I was giving them unnecessary excuses. I was in dilemma. Finally, after a short nap, I have decided that I would conduct something for them the next day, the last day before my departure and would postpone my personal commitments. This decision gave me much needed peace. In the evening I told couple of students who again came to check with me if there was any possibility of having a special class. I announced that we would have a potluck party first with no special menu and then drawing activity followed by a small event. Within minutes ten more students gathered, I shared my activity plan with them and when they came to know that I was interested in having a potluck party-activity in our front-yard-close to the nature… That’s it… before I could complete my sentence, all the kids including my own & sister’s kids started cleaning the front-yard ‘Swachata abhiyaan” (Cleanliness drive). They got brooms, baskets etc and started cleaning together. This gave me an opportunity to educate them about cleanliness-hygienic conditions- clean water- clean surrounding etc. We together spent some time in cleaning and decorating the front-yard.
Next day morning I went for shopping with my sister, got drawing books, pencils, pens and special snacks & Sweets for all the students. At 12’oclock sharp students started coming in, dressed up in good-colourful attires and accessories. Although because of the summer holidays few students were out of town but those who were around enthusiastically participated. They bought their tiffin boxes with them filled with some delicious food (whatever they could afford to bring) and enough for them only. Almost all of them got Potato subji (curry) and chapati (tortillas) — very simple but with lot of love and affection. In fact, I knew for some students getting potato curry was an expensive option as they usually eat chapati with onion or dry chutney, curry was kind of a luxury for them. The praiseworthy part of the potluck was, all the students planned it so well that one of the students got a sweet (ladoo) only two- so that I could eat sweet for the lunch… so thoughtful, of course we all shared two ladoos among ourselves. Before starting the lunch we all recited a prayer to thank god for all the delicious food. Later, all the students wanted me to taste their food and I couldn’t refuse them. I sat down with them and tasted each and everyone’s chapatti-curry, pickle etc. My daughter was surprised to see that couple of students got very less curry and two chapaties and when I tasted it, I understood the reason behind the less curry. The curry was very very spicy that I myself ran to drink water. After the potluck my mom explained to my kids that some of them couldn’t afford to buy vegies so they make curry with less veggies or lentils & more water and very spicy so that it would be enough for all the family members. It was a huge lesson for my kids who sometimes refuse to eat curries at home, that experience also helped them understand how privileged they are. We all spent couple of hours in eating-chatting-singing etc..
We started our drawing activity soon after the lunch. As it was a very last minute proposal so there was no theme, I just asked them to draw whatever they like, in an hour. Results were amazing, you can see students’ creativity in their drawings. Later we played games and then we took a 15 min break before starting our grand finale. During the break all the students made ‘thank you’ cards and flower bunches for my mother & me from our garden. One student took the lead and hosted the program. Four students got up and sang welcome song for me. Then they all sang prayers-songs which my mom had taught them and told stories. They even asked me to address the gathering, just amazing. All those students were between 5-13yrs of age but I was surprised to see their responsible-mature behaviour & team efforts, the way they conducted the grand finale, indeed, they made their teacher (My Mom) very proud. Even though the event was announced at the last minute & unplanned, we all enjoyed it a lot and had fun spending time with each other. After 6,o clock we wrapped up our six hours long fun filled activity and said goodbye to each other.
After the event, I felt very happy that I could keep my promise – of having a special class for all the class students during my visit. It gave me immense satisfaction and the smiles on the faces of the children surely motivated and inspired me to plan more such activities in the future. I understood and experienced the quote written by Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product.” So true.