Today I have to start early so I may give the children the treats I’ve brought from Kolkata. Getting out of my “princess bed” as the girls call it (I think it has something to do with the mosquito netting) I am anxious to take a shower and be off to play Willy Wonka. Surprise! “Low setting”. No power, no shower, no water. Hmm, very unique way to start the day. It is not unique for these kids. They are very adaptable and very willing to take whatever comes their way with grace.
As I race out of the girls dormitory, freezing, I see the little ones joyfully splashing in the water, another little girl about 4 years old, can’t button her sweater. I drop everything to help her dress quickly, feeling like a mother hen.
At breakfast, I sit as each class arrives and sings their morning prayers. I pray too, for these young souls so full of promise. I pray that this isn’t all for naught and that when I return next year, many of them will have achieved their “target” – University.
Each group solemnly comes up to me as I hand them little chocolate eclairs. Chocolate for breakfast, along with curry and rice and a banana. Special combination. Off to the first class, we will begin to shape the collages,readying them for mounting and the start of “painting with paper”. The class 9 boys arrive with a garland of marigolds for me to wear in my hair. One boy gives me a cut out heart. Then Swapan comes in with 4 boys carrying a very large work table that will be used for making the final collages. It is large enough for 6 students to work simultaneously , it feels like Christmas. I am so thrilled with the table I want to give him a hug. Instead I give him a handful of chocolates. Swapan means “dream” in Bengali, and this he is; he is a dream, always helpful, always there.
Class is over and auntie is a little miffed, most of the boys have left and the room is in shambles.Three boys and I clean the 60 brushes and palettes. I barely have enough time to ready the room for the next class. I give these boys chocolates too for their kindness. Sugar high! Only one boy arrives for next class, his name is Lalu and he is one of my best students. Really talented, his work is going to be great. We peacefully work for an hour, he cleans up without my asking and then leaves for his studies. At least I have inspired one person. Lalu says he wishes to be an artist. Content, I go to lunch, a mixture of hardboiled egg, curried beets and potatoes, and of course, rice. This is not a low carb diet, time to exercise.
Off to finish my classes and call it a day. See you on the next post.