brought in 130 kids aged 9-11 to our workplace. Our workplace is really fancy, has all sorts of fun activities and serves amazing food, so the Teach for India fellows thought that they could bring in the kids for a picnic of sorts while also giving them a glimpse into the corporate world.
The kids entered the office building, all dressed up in their uniforms, sorted according to their class and height; chirping with enthusiasm. While we were taking care of the security procedures; they enquired; “Bhayia what is your name?” – “Didi what is your name?” We took them for some activities that we had planned a day before; some of which were drawing activities, musical chairs and an introduction to programming game. Though I must confess the programming game didn’t suit their fancy; instead they wanted to play a car racing game or listen to Honey Singh songs or Google about their teacher Sri Harsha on the internet.
They chorused a beautiful song; try to get the rhythm here:
Water-melon, Water-melon, …
Pa-paya, Pa-paya, ….
Chikoo, chikoo, chikoo, …
Chikoo, chikoo, chikoo, …
Fruit salad, …. Fruit Salad …
We took them around for a office tour in a really really long queue and they kept waving to all the Didis and Bhayias they saw working. I categorically remember them being dumbstruck and disheartened when one of the bhayias did not wave back. “Bad Bhayia”. During this time Shoib, a class 3 boy was holding my hand throughout and claimed within five minutes that I was his best friend – Which I obviously am.
He is the one with the hat. He nicknamed me “Pattu” – the meaning of which probably even he doesn’t know. “Pattu idhar aao”. “Pattu khana khao”.
It was lunch time and we served them food. They liked it I can recall from their expressions. While they were at it; one of them suddenly realized that I wasn’t eating, just serving them. So the girl hand fed me a mouthful of rice. Five of her friends decided to follow suit. “Bhayia, mujhse bhi”, “Bhayia, mujhse bhi”. Then one of them claimed that one must never eat just one bite – it’s not good luck. So I was fed by each one of them again. 🙂 At that moment, I felt that I was richer than I can ever be.
I think he didn’t want to stand with the girls.
Then Shoib approached me again and said he wanted a fresh plate of food, which I served and handed over to him. He told me already has a plate and the plate he just asked for is for me – since I am not eating at all! And then he took my hand and seated myself with him; gave me the plate and we ate together.
Soul satisfying? Yes.
PS. I could very well see how much the kids liked their teachers / mentors from Teach of India. Amazing job Teach for India fellows. I wish someday I could do something half as noble as what you guys are doing by mentoring these children.