mudnsky

Coz you see best when your eyes are closed.


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Everlasting Beauty

A poem that I wrote in high school for a competition. Still brings back beautiful memories.

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“What a beautiful ring that is
And what a pretty red dress
I wish I was slimmer
then I would be perfect”
 
Looking through the shops
I continued down the lane
Suddenly collided with someone
“Are you insane?”
 
I turned to see a girl
with a cane in her hand
who couldn’t see with her eyes
the sky or the land
 
“I’m sorry,” she apologised
“You see, I’m blind
That’s why I stumbled onto you
I hope you don’t mind.”
 
She was tall and slim
and wore a red dress
But couldn’t see for herself
the beauty of this bless
 
I gazed at her intently
and searched her eyes
“You are so beautiful
do you even realise?”
 
“What is beauty,” she asked; I said,
“Anything that appeals to the eyes”
“Where do you think then the problem lies
In the object or in the eyes?”
 
“With darkness all around me
what can I see?
Does that mean the world is dull
I should believe?”
 
“Who decides what is good
what is to be and what not to be
Beauty is not a written rule
but something that lies with me”
 
“If I see in the sun
not its warmth but glare
I would believe that in the world
there’s nobody to love and care”
 
“I see in a child his innocence
in a student his dedication
in a labourer his earnesty
and in a priest his devotion”
 
“If I find the world beautiful
who is to stop me
from being what I am
feeling as I ought to feel”
 
Saying so she left
with a smiling face
walking with contentment
at a steady pace
 
I watched her go by
then turned and sighed
Wondered about all the things
to whom credit I had denied
 
No longer did I see the ring
or the red dress
“What is beautiful about them?
They’re the same more or less”
 
I learned to see the greenery
feel the wind in my hair
and look beyond a pretty face
to see who loved and cared
 
I’m grateful to the girl
for now I do realise
the blind girl had showed me that
everlasting beauty lies in my eyes.


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The tuition teacher in the neighbourhood

“I will stand right here till you finish copying this page,” she says sternly in a high pitched voice. It is a voice that rings all through the afternoon, into the evening. Late evening. Within half an hour after school gets over, kids of ages ranging from 7 to 14 begin to troop in. They have changed from their uniforms, had a quick lunch, packed their tuition bags, caught a rickshaw and arrived. Kicking a pebble on the way and hurrying up the steps is all the play they have had.

The question of why they need tuitions is an issue in itself. For now, it could suffice to say that the teachers in the school are not doing their jobs adequately enough. They aren’t explaining well, they aren’t catering to the child’s needs and the child is not scoring well. Fair enough. But what is this tuition that they are coming to?

One doesn’t need to enquire about her qualifications or experience. It never gets that far. Two minutes into the class and you know where this is going. A shrill nagging voice pestering you to write this, copy that, memorise this, open that… The afternoon drowsiness resists the loud orders, sluggish arms work to rescue the ears and the head gets a killer ache. It doesn’t matter that the studies require one to use his/her brains. The headache nullifies any difference between an academically bright and a dull child. It is a non-stop music of one hour which credits the teacher with Rs.100 of hard-work. Hard it was – as much for the child as for the teacher. No one in the vicinity can raise a finger at the teacher for not having taught. Even a passerby on the road can swear he heard her teaching. Thats one risk secured against.

Now for the other risk – you didn’t teach “well”. Volume can’t account for that. Marks could be a measure of the quality of teaching. But then, who could be assured of that. There is an intelligent way out – to be on the parents’ side instead of taking them on. Religiously, every day, when a parent comes to pick up the child, she cribs to them. “Main uske sar pe khadi rahi, tab jake homework finish kiya usne. Hard work bilkul nahin karta.” (I stood on his head to make him finish the homework. He shirks from hard-work.) “Usne toh mujhe kuch aur hi bataya. Band bajana padega uska.” (She painted a different picture before me. Will have to take her to task.) It gives her the cushion of having done her best, but the child being hopeless. If it weren’t for her, the child would be worse off. Surprisingly, the parents don’t take offense. They like this plan. They join in with their own complaints of the child making them the “we are doing our best but the child is hopeless” parents. The kid stands either swinging the bag or chewing a pencil while his parent and tuition teacher brand him as a worthless life on earth. So much for skipping the afternoon nap and evening play.

It isn’t about what education is, how kids should be taught. No, am not going that far. Teaching is an art, a passion that springs from within. Am willing to leave that aside and make these tuitions routine programs tailored to score better. But are they even doing that? In a classroom of 40 odd students, one may not mind the teacher ignoring him. You don’t feel neglected when everyone’s being neglected. But, in a tuition where you are receiving personalised attention, a teacher who fails to hear you, see you, ask you is committing a clear act of neglect, the kind where you feel wronged, the kind where you lose your self-confidence. What is this entire drama about? A passing-the-parcel between the parents and the teacher? No one willing to take the responsibility lest the music stops? Caught in your foolish game, neither will you hear the child sing, nor will you hear his silence.