This is a story that happened in School during those rainy days of mid June. I had just started as a new, fumbling Teacher for 43 ebullient kids and was discovering what this was all about. As days went by, I realised how important my every minute with these children was (not that I didn’t know it earlier, but then knowing this practically, has more impact)
On one such rainy day, I walked into the usually very chaotic classroom, expecting kids to be running around or playing. Instead, there were a bunch of gleeful boys at the back of the class and some worried looking girls, carefully staying away from the commotion. Curious, I peeked in. There, Farhan was stomping on something and other boys were just eagerly looking. It looked like a scene out of a videogame where a kid is fighting a monster, egged on by onlookers. I stopped everything and asked Farhan what he was doing. Just then, Navsin mustered the courage and shouted “Bhaiya, isne ek chote se chipkali ko maar diya (He killed a baby lizard)”. All eyes were on Farhan now. There was almost no trace of the poor lizard. Just pieces but I could make out. Ok. I can’t shout at the kids now. I can’t (or won’t) beat them. Explain that they made a poor choice. A bad decision. Did he think about it before jumping into action? Did he understand what he was doing? How do I explain all this to a bunch of 6 year olds? Is killing right or wrong? What’s wrong in killing (“having fun” in a kid’s world) a snake like thing?
I sat down with them and spoke about animals. We, in this classroom, are all different, diverse but then that’s what makes it all interesting. Do we go about stomping on each other? Every animal has a right to live in this world and it is our duty to protect those that are vulnerable. Any animal is not harmful as long as we don’t threaten their safety. But, explaining this to kids who see goats, chicken and cows being slaughtered for food everyday was difficult. How will they understand the subtle differences ? How can I explain non violence and love for animals to them ? Somehow, they understood something and I asked them what we can do. Saahil replied “Bhaiya, yeh toh Allah ke paas chala gaya na? Bhaiya, this has gone to Allah right?” Farhan said “Bhaiya, we will bury him”
So, we brought some leaves, picked up the pieces of the baby lizard and carried it in a mini procession down to the garden, where a small pit was dug up and we laid the leaf with the lizard on it. The kids threw some flower petals picked from the garden and then covered it with soil. Under the shade of that tree, the kids stood silently for a minute and I was satisfied that they learnt something that day.
During the lunch break, a kid came running to me and said, “Bhaiya, some boy dug out everything and threw away the leaves and flowers”. We just prayed for the baby lizard when class started