Story continued from previous post..
As days rolled by, we all teachers, teaching the his class, tried our best to break his silence. Nothing worked. But unexpectedly one day it happened, that too in a most unexpected place and time. In those days the school curriculum for 8th and 9th grade a subject called as Work experience / Pot culture in which the teachers were suppose to make the children do some gardening or tending to plants in the pot. Deepak’s class boys were tending the rose and other flowering plants, planted them by them in the pots, placed on the balcony. As it was a free period for me I was just watching the boys. One of the boy complained to the teacher, “Madam see this rose plant of mine is withering, I had watered it regularly, added manure also, but still it seems to be dying” Most unexpectedly Deepak turned to the boy and said” Because you had kept the plant away from sun. You don’t know that rose plants wants a lot of sunlight and you should always keep the pot in a place where you get maximum sunlight?” The other boy eagerly listened as Deepak went on advising him about more tips about the rose plant. Finally I got the break. I called Deepak and told him that after the school he should meet me in the physics Lab
After the school ended he came hesitantly, half worried that I am going ask him about his blank answer papers again. He was a bit surprised when I started asking about the rose plant. I told him that I had planted a few rose plants in my balcony and they were not growing properly. I asked him if he could give me some help. He slowly started talking and as I asked more and more question he suddenly opened up, into an exited bubbly boy and talked on and on without any reservation. His wooden face, for once, became a real happy child’s one. After half an hour I told him that the next day he should come to my house and see my plants and he should inform his mother that he would be coming late.
The next day after school we walked together to my house, which was very close to my school. He shared some tea and biscuits with me without any fuss. Then he inspected my plants. The advice started pouring out. In the end he opened his bag and pulled out a thin book and said, “ Madam, This book has very good information about all the needed thing for a rose plant. It would be very useful for you” I thanked him and took the old, weather beaten, brown book and looked at the cover. There was a name. Aruna Kate. I asked, “You are so well informed about the rose plants. You must be definitely having a good amount of rose plants in your house and your mother must be tending them” His face suddenly lost its warmth. He said in a low voice “My mother is not interested in roses and we don’t any more have the rose plants”
Pretending ignorance I continued “ Then from where did you get this book and why are you holding it?” Deepak was very silent and his lips queered as he tried to control his tears. I asked very softly, “Aruna was your aunty who grew rose plants in your house and you loved her a lot. Is it right?” He did not reply but continued to stare at the wall. I said again, “Deepak, I understand your attachment to your aunty. But your aunty getting married and going away with her husband is a natural thing, which happens in all the house. You are not a three year old baby, that you sit and cry for her and refuse to study?”Suddenly Deepak exploded crying, “ Madam , my aunty is not married. She is dead” It was now my turn to get shocked.
I said “ Your mother told me that your aunt was married. Why do you say she is dead?” He suddenly got up threw his school bag on the floor and screamed “Madam don’t believe my father or mother. My aunt is dead. She is dead because my father hit her with a belt so badly” I made Deepak sit back and allowed him to cry. I fetched a glass of water and him to drink. Then I said, “Deepak I think you are someway totally mistaken. When makes you so sure that she was nor married and she died?
Sobbing bitterly, came a flood washing away two years of suppressed pain and hurt he said in a stammering voice “Two year back at the end of the year I was down with high fever. At night I heard the shouting of my father and I ran to the hall. I found my father hitting my aunty with a belt and she was screaming in pain. I tried to stop my father. But my mother pulled me and put me back in bed and locked my room. For quite some time, I heard the screams of my aunty and I wept in my bed. Next day my mother moved me my her doctor brother’s house for treatment of my fever. After one week I was taken my mother took me back but to a new house. I searched for my aunty everywhere. But she was not there. My mother said that she got married and went to her husband’s place. Madam how would my aunty who loved me so much get married without me? Even if she married why there was not a single marriage photograph of her in the house? Why all her previous photographs and all her belongings disappeared from the house? And why my aunty never wrote any letter or made any visits to our house?”
With his volley of questions I just stared at him trying to say something to sooth him. But he said again in a determined voice, “Madam, my aunty was very weak. Because of all the hitting of my father, she must have died. Hence my parents send me to my uncle’s house to hold her cremation. She is dead and my father is responsible for it” Now he sat with a pained face, trying to sallow the his hatred and anger for his father. I then told him “ I am sure that you are badly mistaken. Your aunty is very much alive. I will get in touch with your aunty and see that she writes to you. This is a promise from me”
He got up and said hesitantly, “ Madam, I can’t believe you. But if you could do this …nothing in this world can give greater happiness than this. Thank you madam”
In the night itself I telephoned his mother and asked her to come to house the very next day. For Deepak’s sake I took one day off. His mother also took leave from bank and came down to see me. I told him everything Deepak spoke. She was shocked beyond words. She cried and said, “Oh God, he thought that Aruna is dead. For so many days my poor child suffered because he did not believe me…oh God.. Why did he not ever ask me? Why did I not tell him the full truth? Why was I so scared?”
Then she said “It was true that my husband hit his sister. She wanted to marry our neighbour who was of a different religion. I tried my best to talk to him. But his temper is so bad that he not only hit her, but when I intervened, he hit me also. That night I made a decision. I requested my brother to come to my house and collect Deepak and keep him in his house. That night itself ,when my husband was asleep, I helped Aruna pack and both of us went away to Nasik where my mother lived. We got her married the very next day to the same boy in Nasik. She is happily living there and I am in touch with her. But we hid all this information from my husband and also avoided Aruna’s contact with Deepak because of his temper. In fact he believed that I was with Deepak in my brothers house for the four days and his sister had eloped. But how could ever imagine that Deepak would conclude that his father killed his sister?” So saying, she buried her face in her hands and broke down into uncontrollable tears.
After a week I was in the physics laboratory doing my correction when Deepak came in with a radiant face He said “ Madam, I cant believe it. My aunty is alive.She has written a letter to me. She was afraid of my father and hence did not write for so many days” He showed me an inland letter. I said “ Deepak, since you know that your sister is alive and happy, you should study well and stop giving blank paper” Smiling he nodded.
He became once again the smart child he truly was. I did not teach him in 10th but heard that he passed with very good percentage. After six years ,one day he knocked at my door again. I could not recognize the very tall handsome youth. As he smiled I knew he was Deepak. He said that after his 12th he had become one of the Ace photographer. I held his hand and shook it with boundless happiness. It was beautiful to see my rose plant in full bloom finally!
How would you as a teacher react when would have you noticed that your child who was good or even average in academics had suddenly become irresponsible, reckless, careless and crude in school and scores very poor marks?
Is this extreme violence to the extent of thrashing with a belt not a beastly behaviour? Can violence solve any problem at any time? Why do parents assume they have a right to hit their child?
If one of the parents is of the violent type, is it not the responsibility of the spouse to take charge to end this violence?
If there are problems in the family, how would you sort it out so that the young ones watching you are not hurt by your actions?
A few suggestions in the next blog