I remember it was my 18th birthday. My friends and I were sitting on the staircase of some shop. I was unwrapping the gifts which my friends had given. I had received a number of chocolates and some writing materials because of my passion for writing.
There were three kids on the street who were staring at us from some distance. I called them and they came up to me grinning. I thought they wanted the chocolates – and so I advanced my fist full of chocolates towards them. But they shook their heads.
“Ye nahi chahiye (I don’t want this),” one of them said. I asked them what they wanted. They pointed at the writing materials I had received as gifts. It was so heartbreaking to see a kid not wanting a chocolate but asking for a book and pen, instead. Nevertheless, I gave them the materials wholeheartedly.
After that, they asked me to teach them how to study. They told me they wanted more books – and they requested my friends and me to come daily for just a few minutes and teach them. In fact, even though there was no sign of their parents, they seemed desperate to study.
Who were they? I didn’t know. But I was able to understand the plead I heard in the children’s voice.
If only this plea reached India’s education system, wouldn’t it be quite the accomplishment? After all, education has become a necessity – and it’s about time that we started considering our country’s future.
These days, my friends and I regularly meet the kids and teach them – not just what’s in the books, but also what’s in them. They are yet to discover their talent. I hope the education system stops being ignorant to the ones who can’t even afford a piece of clothing – let alone school admission fees.
Image used for representative purposes only.