(Entwining of Words, Thoughts and Feelings)
A creative writing workshop called Alfaazon ki Jugalbandi, was planned for the students. I was the facilitator of the workshop. Taking suggestions from my team, I designed an interactive session plan.
The one and a half hour workshop started with the introduction. Students were asked if they had watched the 1987 movie Mr. India. Six of the eight students present replied in affirmative. They began to recapture scenes and songs from the movie with enthusiasm. Then they were asked what they would do if they had Mr. India’s watch. A girl answered that she would buy herself a new dress, another said that she would buy a car for her parents. A boy said that he wanted to meet Bollywood actors and become friends with them. The fourth child said that she wanted to become like us and teach underprivileged children. The fifth one said that he would give food, clothes and money to poor people and try to help them. While one said that he wanted to meet the Prime Minister of India and take decisions like him for the betterment of the country, another one said that he would spy on terrorists and provide information to security forces. We were spell-bounded as the thinking capacity of these students had no boundations.
Another round of questions followed where we were asked if a similar watch exists in real and if yes, do we have it? Is it possible to disappear? I replied in negation that script writers imagine all kinds of things which aren’t possible to happen in the real world. Monika, a student of class 6, gave her opinion that the scientists can invent a watch like that in future. Impressed with her quick response, we decided not to shatter the dream of becoming invisible and agreed with her.
When they were asked about the activity for the day, some asked if they’d be drawing that watch others thought that we would discuss movies and sing songs. Only one student guessed that we would write something as he had noticed one of the volunteers taking out a packet of ruled sheets from his bag. Quite a good observer, I thought. The news of writing was not welcomed with a positive vibe as the students wanted to do some fun-filled activity. It was disappointing to see two children discouraging others to write. But with the help of community coordinators we managed to convince everyone to try and start the activity.
Everyone started to write in Hindi but Anamika, the question bank of the class, was enthusiastic enough to express her thoughts in English with the help of a volunteer. She refused to write in Hindi. She knows the importance of English in today’s world, I wondered. While volunteers helped the kids on an individual level, I went to every student to see how things were going on. My eyes caught the attention of Krithika’s sheet, the one who tried to discourage others. She made designer ‘shirorekhas’ (the upper horizontal lines used in Hindi to connect letters into clusters and distinguish between different words). Devnagri scrip won’t accept it but she distinguished herself by trying her level best to make the task which she considered as boring into an interesting one with her creative mind.
They didn’t allow us to read their sheets in front of everyone. We were strictly ordered to read them in secret. They hesitated to open up with everyone.
The session ended with a small feedback from everyone. When asked if they would like to have another workshop like this, every student replied in affirmative with happy faces.
The students we teach have creative minds, but their thinking needs to be lead into a right direction. They want to achieve big things in life and for that they need to study. Teaching them the importance of education is important. But we need to do this very carefully. As their mentors, we can’t be hard on them by breaking their imaginary world right away. Some of them are materialistic, but their first dream is for themselves. They are aware of the work we are doing, educating the children who are deprived of resources and opportunities. They want to become like us. One of them had written that she wanted to water plants. She is aware about nature and cares for the environment. Another one felt the absence of love of elders and wanted to meet his dead grandparents. Yes, they can’t take decisions for the country at the age of ten or twelve but what we can infer from this dream of theirs is that they understand that Prime Minister has the power to take decisions for the good of the country and they respect him.
The aim of this project is to teach them the art of writing and after the first session, it was perceived that the students can’t even express their thoughts even in Hindi properly. We need to work a lot on them.
Read all the Mulaakatein here.