Friday, March 10, 2006

Chilling Reality

by Anouradha Bakshi

Another exam suicide.. screamed the morning paper..

This is the fourth child who took his life fearing failure.. 4 kids from different backgrounds that we could not unite in life, found themselves united in the death they chose..

Taking your life is not an easy thing.. it requires courage.. and four children whose life had barely begun took that ultimate step.. because they thought they had not come to the expectations of some adult... their parents.. their school teacher.. the system..

To me these kids were far above others.. but a system made for the larger number does not recognise the worth of the unconventional child.. and in a country where marks are of the essence, there is no place for the one who excels in 'other' areas..

Something is terribly wrong... something we need to address now.. schools are necessary and so are degrees and certificates.. but what is wrong is when a child feels that there is no other way if he cannot survive it.. and here it is not a failure of the child but that of the adult be it the parent or the school teacher..

When I read about these tragic deaths I realised how close I was to having one in my own world.. I would like to share my story in the hope that it may help some desperate child..

my younger daughter S had very difficult school years, and though she had no learning disability, she just could not cope.. like all insensitive adults who want their kids to be super whatevers, I pushed her for many years, and she brave little heart did everything she could.. and did get to class IX.. then in spite of giving her best she again failed and that day when Isaw her crumpled little face I just said what she had been hoping to hear:. The words: "You need not go back to school.." came out in spite of myself.. and before I could think ahead a smile of pure gratitude lit up S's face..

I never regretted that day.. S had always wanted to work with special kids and she trained for 5 years and gave it her best, and suddenly could do all she had never been able to.. today she runs project why with me and has earned the admiration of many.. and of all my achievements , I know this one that no one knows of, is probably the best... as for the first time I decided that i would stand alone and do what I thought best for my child.. Oh I had my share of what have you done, who will marry her etc . Some of my family members did not talk to me.. but I held on!

Parents and adults have to listen to children and recognised the cries for help that are sent out.. and then find another way and celebrate the difference of the child who cannot fit the mould!

Children should not have to take their own lives.. in a so called civilised world

2 comments:

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

It leaves on numb anu, since it brings back memories that we have faced. I am almost certain that in India 90% of us have been through hell coz of schools highhandedness either through our personal experiences our childrens.

I have raised my voice in no uncertain terms on many such occasions, and not let arbitrary authority to take hold and almost ruin the most precious years of a childs life.

As in most situations, untill and unless we as grown responsible, mature adults do not seize the bull by the horn, till that time, either our children, society, we as women, our country will suffer.

Arise and awake has to be the clarion call to all Indians today.

project why said...

i remember when i wanted to send parul my elder daughter to the government school down the road in the late seventies everyone thought me insane
i however sent her to chinmaya vidyalaya that had just opened its doors, as i felt that she would rub shoulders with regular bacchas and i must confess i wormed my way to the management committe and was very active
to the horror of the princie i even chose a poem by pablo neruda 'i am explaining a few things' and the lad got the gold medal
when she was in class VI we moved out
but then the common school can only become a reality if one of us is string enough to pu its child in the government school and then be there to make sure they do their work..
their teachers car perform, look at me my kids all pass at pwhy with women who were earlier cleaning homes, thought they were class IX or X
if we do not unite them in schools, they wil unite themselves in death as they did recently