English Translation: Srinivas Banda

Telugu original: “Gudem cheppina kathalu-4” by Anuradha Nadella

The other day, I couldn’t hold my irritation when Nandu skipped his homework. Reasons for my irritation were two-fold. First – a good student like Nandu, for whatever reason, started taking his studies lightly. Second – a disturbing possibility of my own inability to sustain these children’s interest to their study routine.  I gave him a mouthful. Told him not to show up for the class on the next day, unless his parents accompany him. He simply stood there without any response, with pain writ large over his face.

He came the next day. Said that his parents were out for work. I made him stand outside the class room. He skipped his homework, again. It doubled my annoyance.  I ignored him and went ahead with my class routine. No change was seen in the flow of things, on the following day as well.

On the third day, when I was taking the  first period for Sixth class students, I was intimated that someone was waiting for me. When class finished, I went straight to the Office Room. An old woman was waiting for me.  Her appearance told me that she had seen many tides of life. What is she doing here and what might she want from me? 

She said “Namaste Amma!”  with a smile. 

“Namaste. Whom do you want to meet?” I queried. Her toothless smile grew wider and she said “you…” with an expression closer to a wink!

“Did you order Nandu to stay out of the class?” I got it. She must be related to Nandu. 

“Yes. He used to study well but since a couple of days, has started to skip his homework and also began to mingle with other tramps”.

Generally, I speak softly to the people of that age. But I deliberately sounded tough, to convey that his wavering from studies has irked me. 

The old woman was listening, with the smile still on and started explaining. “Amma, we lost our electricity connection, because of overdues  of its payments. This boy is the son of my grand-daughter.  In our home, ten mouths have to be fed. You see, I can’t work anymore. My daughter isn’t interested to. My son-in-law simply ignores the home but heads to it, when hungry. It’s only the earnings of my grand-daughter that are keeping us afloat.  Her husband earns little but wastes a lot.  Her elder son is studying in the college. 

Nandu used to study at my neighbours’, since their electric connection is fine. They also like him, for he used to help in their chores too.  Since last four days, they were out of station. And Nandu feels too shy to go to someone else’s house, to study. 

He helps his mother in her early-morning-chores.  He assists his bed-ridden grandfather. That’s why he wasn’t able to find time to study.  Our neighbours are expected any day now.  Then his studies would continue as usual”.

She clarified and looked at me, pleadingly. 

“Please let my kid in to the class…” she requested with folded hands. I nodded approvingly.

I never knew the problems that surrounded Nandu.  Neither he mentioned. May be out of sheer embarrassment. 

I should know about these kids  more closely. Why should their lives be so tough at such a tender age…


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