Schooled in humanity

My tryst with understanding the meaning of 'hope' began not so early in life. My first visit to the Rainbow School was on my eighteenth birthday. It was something that had been on my mother's planner for a while. What I had to do was very simple. I had to go there, serve them the food that my mother had prepared and then I was free to go and enjoy the rest of the day the way I wanted. So, like a teenager stepping onto the threshold of adulthood I did just that. Went to Loreto House, took the grub to the roof and served thirty-odd young girls lunch, had a little birthday celebration and went out to savour my moment of being a young adult.

A year later, when I joined Loreto College, I realised that the simple lunch that I served was remembered and the faces that had become a blur to me asked me how I was everyday. A casual "hi" made that much of a difference when I was trying to get my bearing in college. Rainbow School was started as an initiative to educate the street girl child by the Loreto sisters. It was when we did voluntary social service with the 'Each One Teach One' programme, that I opted to teach at Rainbow. Girls from the ages of three to thirteen stayed in the boarding. Talking, playing and my desperate attempts to teach some of them the piano seemed to be the highlights of my days.

Talking to them about their day with conversations steering to their families, to what they wanted to do in the future and their dreams, made it more apparent that they were not very different from mine. Four-and-a-half-year-old Malati Bera wanted to be a singer and dancer. For events she always had a number which she performed. "I want to be like Dona (Ganguly) when I grow up," she said. Through the three years of college I became more familiar with the girls and their routines.

The lines of us and them seem a blur. As the children would practice "Hum Honge Kaamiyab", it is that belief that shone through them -- a belief that they too can reach beyond the stars and that there is a world waiting to appreciate their true colours.

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