Hi ! I am Abu ! I am 9 years old. I sell news papers and I study in Grade 3. I will be in Grade 4 Next month . I am happy and I am sad . HAPPY because I will go to the next class And my teacher remains the same , SAD because , I would be selling the news papers again , My mother will be selling the news papers , my father will be resting ‘six months a year’ again . I would be living with my Nani , even though I want to be with my ma and my little brother Amu….
I want to be a good boy, infact I believe that I can be the best boy, who has ever studied in grade 3. But I do not understand why my BHAIYA (the new teacher) does not understand my problems? , why my father does not understand my problems? , why my mother expects me , the little boy, to share her emotional burden? , I do not understand why my “Nani” and “Mamus” expect me to behave like 18 year old all the time! I really do not understand why my class mates don’t understand my jokes (which my Bhaiya says are really funny but reprimands me for cracking them all the time ) .
I am little confused, when I study a bit, I get excellent marks, when I study a little less I get OK marks! I was once a topper , I was once the cynosure of the teachers eyes (even though I was thrashed many a times by them ….) but this new teacher (self assuming Bhaiya ) does not allow me this privilege of being the best , other students have gone far ahead than me in terms of scoring marks and scoring brownie points from the teacher! I have started complaining .I have started quarreling, picking up a fight with almost anyone who ever got the slightest of praise & appreciation in the class ! I feel bad about it .I have started feeling terrible at the feeling of being labeled bad.
What can I do ! This News paper thing is killing me . I am late everyday because of it .Distributing them in 50 houses spread across 3 blocks in Police Colony and NCL campus is not an easy job , but mamu says I have to learn tricks of the trade early, but why ? Didn’t I say Bhaiya that I want to become a Scientist? I picked a book from the old news paper store the other day “. It was about “RANDY PAUSCH “ .I read a page or two from it .I really liked .I imagined it to be a book from a poor aspiring scientist like me .I gifted it to Bhaiya thinking that maybe he could help me (he seemed ,as the only one ,in any likelihood , to do so) . Bhaiya liked the book and he actually showed me the video of Mr. Pausch. I also knew about Internet that day . I got to Know about the GOOGLE. I can find so many things and so many pictures about the planets about which I had heard about in the geography class. I confessed to Bhaiya, I actually wanted to discover a Planet or discover something inside a planet. Bhaiya seemed super excited to hear this …...Does he Love me?
I have started listening to Bhaiya. Bhaiya allows me to be a bit late in coming to class. He seems to understand a bit. I feel doing my best. I threw a challenge to my “friends “in class that I will be best ...BUT then something really unfortunate happened … My little brother Amu was being teased by one my friends in class, I became very angry, infact I was angry from before only: P , I hit him hard and made him cry. A complain was made against me, to My Principal Miss .Bhaiya was also sitting in the staff room. I had hit my friend really hard , I did not intend to but I had to protect my little brother (who else will ? ) . I was punished; I was suspended from school for 4 days. I was really angry at Bhaiya , he did not help me . I was really angry with my friend , why did he have to tease Amu , I was really angry with myself why did I do this ? I went to Mumbai to meet my Aunts, they live near the sea shore .Oh I saw so many things I could ever see in pune .I wrote it all, in case someone asks
I came back. Bhaiya did not talk to me for the first 2-3 hours, the day I came to class, I did not know why…. But then I had to ask him why was he not looking at him, even when I was sitting quietly and raising hands to give an answer? Bhaiya told me that I should “say sorry” to my friend and to My Principal Miss before being part of the class! But I wanted to say sorry only to Bhaiya, no one else but then he explained again, if he said sorry to both of them, he would accept that as a sorry to him. He is a Nut , I Guess . I did that ! , Bhaiya told that I was a Good Boy!! I felt good about it , I was happy all day.
I am feeling sad again, Three Class trips in a row, I was not allowed by my NaNI and Mamu to go to any of them. They thought the trips were not the best thing to do, perhaps selling news papers was far better ! I protested , I cried , I made all arguments but these people are dumb .In the last trip , to make it fool proof , I made Bhaiya to call my mamu , mamu said “ok , he can go” , but NaNI made a great excuse “ I am ill , I cannot send Abu “ .I was determined to tell this to Bhaiya , I told about the lies which Nani tells whenever she has to say NO to anything ! I did not miss the trips, but it would have been great to Know about the Anemometers, Hygrometers, and Pyranometers which my Friends knew about , after one of the trips …..
We have finished our Final Exams; I stand 5th in the Class Overall. Even though I Know, I can be the best but what to do I am still 5th !
Today was one of the happiest days, in the whole year! Bhaiya was coming to my house, he had promised! .Though Our House is bit small (rather very small, only one room) it is not that untidy. I know our house is near a drain , it is made up of Iron sheets, and it is slightly hot! But we have a Fridge , a TV (good one), two little beds to keep us comfortable and Cozy. I live with my mamu in a better place but I like coming to this place all the time because My Ma lives here. I am not sure why father does not go tO work so many days, I secretly hoped, he Goes to work when Bhaiya comes to visit. …
Bhaiya came walking with me, he was finding it really difficult to walk in the hot sun, and He walked almost 2 km before we could reach my house (slightly of the main road: P)! On the way he was asking lot of questions about “Hot Sun /Randy Paunch / My ambition to become a scientist and the progress I made in that / about my favorite Amu etc.” I was so excited to answer him. I saw my friends playing in the hot sun , they are mad (I shouted , Pagal ho gaylay kya , itni tez dhup may Khel rehlay ho ! ) .But I was secretly happy , I could show off “ Bhaiya “ , after all not every day he comes !
Enter my house, My father had not gone to work , he was sleeping with a blanket over him , How can he sleep like that ? May be he was drunk, maybe he had come from night duty.. May be …. My mother was back from work & as usual cleaning everything, almost everything … She was happy to see me back, but a little sad to see a sweating Bhaiya at the door ... But then Bhaiya always makes all of us smile, maybe he does that too with Ma ..
Bhaiya always works with an agenda , I asked him Bhaiya , how will you write here ? (Seriously, I did .. .. ) Questions after Questions , why Abu did not come for class trip , why my parents do not come for parents meet , How did they find this place , how long they have been living here ? I was getting bored I switched on the TV !!
Oh, fatal mistake... Ma opened up the complain box , Abu does this , Abu does that.. Oh so many of them ,Too much for my Fixed Agenda Bhaiya to solve at one Go !! They Discussed and Discussed … oh my God ! My ma could speak so much ? …
And , then I was forced to make many Promises today .Promise to be Good , Promise to be punctual , Promises to try listening to persons other than Bhaiya ....But I was Feeling Good about it … I was happy that someone wanted a promise out of me. ..I ran to bring “Maza “ – my favourite “Kol-drink “, Bhaiya likes it too! I had done the research …
I am happier than I WAS....... I HAVE Promised to be Good , to be better…Allah help me to keep my Promises ... ( I said to Bhaiya , I Would try my best )…
Hope I Turn out to be the best Boy in Grade 4 ….
Disclaimer : This piece of writing is purely imaginary , based on writers experience, understanding and interactions with one of his students over a period of 10 months of his fellowship with a NGO ......