Thus the alphabets were echoing in the house sourcing from a II standard boy of tamil medium. Sometimes he would swallow his ‘Tee’and ‘We’. When he is reminded of that fact, he will hit his head with his tiny hands and innocently say, “ aama maranthutten!” (ya I forgot).
He will show his book pointing to a poem and say, “Teacher inaikku ithu sollikuduthaanga” (Teacher taught this today).The first day when he came, I asked him to read words from the book. But he didn’t know the a,b,c…(small letter A,B,C..). I was astonished. In the developing part, I see the children well-thorough with their A,B,C and 1,2,3 stuffs even before they step into class I!
When I was a kid, I used to stammer when the question was, “What’s your aim?”, not because that I had none, infact I had many. The previous year when I was sitting useless at home, I very much wanted to be part of a teaching profession for classes from 4 to 9. But some works and problems chained me.And here I got my chance :)
One day I asked him, what he would like to become.
His answer was,"Maama mathiri varuven"(I will become like my uncle).
On further enquiry it was known that his uncle is working in a ship in Madagascar . And this boy plans to pass the 9th class and then join the ship there. It was first time I came to hear of such aim, peculiar indeed. But I believe that the boy can reach far heights.
The boy learnt a,b,c,d. pretty quick and I thought that it was time to teach him some common questions.
I : what is your name?
He: My name is Gandhiraj
You shouldve seen my surprise look. He doesn’t know a,b,c,d.. but can answer these questions! Good. I thought of proceeding further.
I: How are you?
He: Am fine. Thank you.
The first question has already had its effects. So I reacted lesser to this.
I : what is your mother’s name?
He: Amma peru ketkrueengala? (Are you asking mom’s name?)
I : aama (yes).
He would have got tht question by the word ‘mother’and ‘name’ I guess. I proceeded further.
I : how old are you?
He: I am fine, thank you.
I : Illai thambi (no brother), How old are you?
He: I am fine, thank you.
Then I understood that he mistook my question as ‘how are you’. I stressed the word old but he still couldn’t get. Because he was not memorized this question by his teacher. And this is one of the reasons why I don’t like the education system especially in government schools.
But I should say, he is good in addition. When the other day, I told him, “unnoda maths booka edu” (Take your maths book). He stared. “kanakku boooka edu” (take ur maths book”). It was then he took his maths book! And the next day, I taught him subtraction, the poor kid got confused! What I could I do? I cant wire his nerves!
And mom came to my rescue. She told me to give a few more problems so that he will practice and learn. And I saw that mom was also eager to teach him. She still helps him out in subtraction! I and my brother are like head and tail of a coin. But that day, he came and helped me. He was much surprised when he knew that children do take time in learning things. Sometimes he pities my student and hurries him off to home!!
And to keep out the boredom, I thought of telling him stories daily – the kids are usually fascinated by them.
“What story would you like to hear?”
“ Singam kathai” (Lion’s story)
It just reminded me how I pestered my grandma to tell story daily - sometimes of a king, of a jungle and of fairies. I smiled and then recalled “the lion and the mouse”, I read in childhood.
Altogether, I am enjoying the teaching job. Sometimes I feel that the job shifts between us when he teaches me innocence, happiness and the excitement that the world has kept for him :)