As you like it...

Reflections

As you like it...

My sister’s grandchildren were home for holidays. They had none to play with and were getting pretty bored. Their grandmother’s solution was to send them for Maths, Science and English classes. I too became a part of the conspiracy (What are sisters for?) I was roped in to teach them English grammar.

Once a teacher, always a teacher — I prided myself. Being a classic case of fool plunging in where even devils fear to tread, I agreed.

The classes started. They — the elder one, Naveen is 13, and the younger Ashwin, 12 — would come at 3 pm and leave at 4 pm. They were prompt, would walk in with loads of textbooks their mom had devilishly got them, open them one by one, and then would begin our Communicative English. They were good at speaking and reading, but not much interested in writing or listening. Naturally! How can one talk and listen at the same time?

I decided to introduce them to creative writing. Gathering all my ‘rich’ experience and greying wisdom, I devised something to make it interesting. It can be the day’s newspaper, a scrap or even a passage from some book. I would read it out to them; they had to listen to it and then reproduce it in their own words. The process was  simple.
Two little heads nodded in agreement. Well done, Latha thathi, I patted myself.

Two classes went off without any hitch. On the third day, I selected a brief passage from Sai Satcharita. There is this story about two lizards in Chapter 15. A lizard tick-ticks in the masjid and Baba interprets it to a doubting devotee as the expression of its joy at the prospect of meeting her sister who is coming from Aurangabad. Soon a trader arrives from Aurangabad and when he empties the feedbag of his horse, out jumps a lizard from it. As predicted by Baba, it scurries to her ‘sister’ and they both dance in joy, much to the astonishment of the ‘questioner’ devotee. More than the actual coming together of the lizard sisters, for the believer, it’s the ultimate proof of the omniscience of the Guru and hence a touching tale.

I read out this portion to the two little gentlemen, with all the extra dramatic effects I could muster. Looking down at the innocent faces, I felt happy. It seemed I had managed to instill some faith in them. And one aim of education is inculcating good values, right? I congratulated myself and asked them to write the story in their own words.

Ashwin was the first one to finish. With great expectation, excitement and anticipation, I took his ‘offering’. He had summed it up in just two sentences:

“A lizard in a mosque is very excited because her sister is coming from Aurangabad and Baba identifies it. When a person comes from Aurangabad, the lizard’s sister comes and visits her.”

The older one was still at it, writing away ferociously. I glanced at his paper. He was gleefully describing the dancing steps of the two lizards.

“What you see depends on what you’re looking for!” The inner cynic in me mercilessly jeered. I kept on looking at Ashwin’s paper. “See Naveen, thathi likes it very much...” I almost blacked out.

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