Sunday, July 26, 2015

To My Dearest Sons at St. Xavier's College, Marawila









Though u were  not borne by me,
I always had a mother's incline towards u all.

My dear sons, you would never guess
The share u have in
Relieving the frustration and the tension
From my boiling system.


I took your comments personally
And that's why I always got
Angry when retorted.


I hoped for unquestioned surrender
 in lessons, You rebelled though.


 I am ashamed to say
That I have very little contribution
For moulding u into good citizens
Though I tried it every given moment.



Ours wasn't a traditional classroom
As any other, and
After meeting u all,
I changed my attitude
On a teacher's role!


You always called me 'ape miss'
And I glimpsed a vast flow of
warmth and affection in it.


And yet, when I sensed that
You r deviating from your future goal,


 The punishments,cynical remarks, cajoles
 and even Indifference had to be used
 for getting work done.

Teachers aim for seminars, modal papers
while you strive to cram
all the tutorials into your tired
and confused minds, already half filled
 with FB,  chats and selfies.

In the modern world, where teachers
are fast loosing the grip of their students
nobody is wise to predict
where the current will carry and
deposit u in another
ten years.

However, my dearest sons,
I would not hesitate to advise you
As I always do.
Be good and do good.


There's a life for each of  u
 beyond the world of exams.
Ride on it
To a clear future.

And I thank God,
for making an encounter
Between u all and me
So that I am enlightened
of a modern teenager's life.



 (postscript)

"I know,I know.
Wait till Asitha comes,
And he will explain the poem
 to u all'n good time."


         
            Your ever-loving English teacher,
                           Miss blue lotus

Sunday, June 29, 2014

To the Principal sir; a parting note,







Soft spoken and gentle
We have never heard 
Your raised voice
Though there were countless 
Times to do so.

Humble and polite
You always requested
When something wanted to be done.
Never the 'Bossy Type'
Though you always were the Boss. 

You never sneaked into the classrooms
To see what we were doing,
Never embarrassed us
By openly criticizing.
Kept your faith on us, 
Believing, that we would work hard
To the betterment of children-
Our wards.

Now that you are leaving,
We have begun to realize
The immense void 
You are creating
With your absence.
But it is something inevitable, 
As preached by Lord Buddha,
It's a pity to leave
One's loved ones.

After carrying the heavy burden 
Of a school
It is only fair to say
That one needs a rest 
If to remain sane.

Be happy! Thinking 
That you have done 
Your duty to the school 
And pupils.

May God keep you happy 
Until your last days. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How to Lure My New Tenant






                 

What a shy person my new tenant is!


Comes with the Dawn and leaves with the Dusk.

My eye walks on the lawn looking for a sign of him.

Sits in his favourite place,on top of a coconut.

Hops back and forth and chats while I carry my washing.

 It's his previledge, so I listen to him.



He likes me and the mynah who eats tit-bits in the garden.

I too like him though he is not one of my own.

He is a nature lover, conservationist and a vegetarian.

He is an ecentric too.

Shakes his back when he has something excited to say.



Spellbound by his presence, I tried all my tricks on him

to share my life with him forever,though it failed,

breaking my heart. I wonder whether you have any tips

to lure a flycatcher to my home.














Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Short Cut







    





                    My first appointment was to a school with only a brick building and  two other kajan thatched ones. It was situated deep into the forest which connected  it with the village by only a bus route and a bus which went twice a day;in the morning and the evening.  but many a times people find that the bus has broken down and those who want to go to the dispensary, weekly fair or to a government institute to get their work done have to trek that long journey along the dusty road which sent a swirl of dust, each time you raise your foot.
    As if to compensate the difficulties and dilemmas you undergo in that God forsaken place, the principal was a very understanding and a  kind hearted fellow.  He was in his early fifties with thinning hair and short and fat with a dark complexion.
          When  I went there  on the first day he welcomed me happily as he was without an English teacher for some time. I too, on the other hand , was a dreamy eyed teacher, armed with my new knowledge,  who was eager to impart all I learned at Pre-Service Training.  After handling official documents he  introduced me to the rest of the staff. As I could remember, there was only one male teacher and three or four female teachers who were all  unmarried.   
 Then the principal took me to a classroom with some students. but there was no teacher. He explained that the class teacher was on maternity leave and from then onwards I would be their class teacher.It was a grade two. I was somewhat consternated  but there was nothing I could do about it. I had come here  to teach these  students the most important English Language and the principal had given me this. To make matters worse, there was no black board for them. I had to teach them sinhala letters and words without a blackboard. It's like a game where you can't utter the word 'thirsty' when you speak about the water.


              The students gathered around me eagerly observing me and my dark purple  american Georgette saree. ( I still have it with me now!) There were around thirty five students in the class; malnourished, lethargic and under fed. but their smiles were warm and I felt that they were expecting something special from me . 

               The students sat on the rough concrete floor and there was only a wooden chair for the teacher. no desk or table.I introduced myself and asked their names. I exactly didn't know what to do. I was trained to teach the English Language but they had not prepared me for  a situation like this. My heart was racing and mind was thinking fast. I had to teach them something and the students were eyeing me curiously.O.K.What the heck, I thought.
                                           Then I asked them to bring their exercise books and began writing the word "samanalaya" (butterfly) in each book  and asked them to complete the page with the word. After writing in around twenty books my back began to ache as it was an uncomfortable posture without a table to lean on to. I straightened up and looked around . countless number of tiny hands were offering me their books for me to write that sacred word in them. Some were pushing to come to the front and I heard cries of "anei , paganna epa. " ("don't tread on please"!)


                   They were pushing me too. I felt a nudge and when I turned around, I saw a little boy has crept under chair to come close to me. He was almost sitting on my lap. I stopped my writing and gave them a look. I met their expectant gazes.



 I told them as calmly as possible, though I was very tired and uncomfortable,  "Now children, I am going to write the word in each of your books. So don't push each other. Go back to where you sit, and come one by one as good children. "



                 I waited.They didn't budge.I waited more. Reluctantly, one girl went to her place and sat with her book on the lap. She called her friend. Then one by one all the students went back to their space on the concrete floor. I took a deep breath. I just sat there indicating I needed a short break from writing. I was not allowed to wallow in my pleasure,  as one brave student came with the book and showing asked me " teacher, mehema livvama haridha" ?  Then another one came, and another. Again they were asking me numerous questions with regard to their writing, mostly the questions to which they very well knew the answers. I was getting angry as I was not composed and collected and didn't know what to do with these bunch of kids who expected some magic from this young, new teacher! 

            The other teachers may have witnessed this incident. One of them came and took charge of my young wards. Another took me to their room. It was a part of the school building.  She opened a thermos flask and poured me a cup of tea. I was grateful for her kind act and gratefully accepted it. but as soon as I sipped the tea, my thirst vanished totally. It was unpleasant and  an oily layer was floating on the surface of the drink. I swallowed it with much difficulty and finished it quickly. It was the sort of water you drink in those remote areas. You could never think how happy I was to drink a glass of cool, refreshing water at one gulp while little drops were falling along wetting  my neck line.

                    She asked me to take things slowly and not to bother about students so much as there was very little one could do.The majority got absent in the harvesting season and rainy season; former to help their parents and latter due to flooding of the roads. 


                  That was how my first day at school was spent  and the bell ran indicating that the  school was over. Oh, my, what a relief! Now time to go home. My father took me to school in the morning but I had to take the bus for return journey. Unluckily for me, there was no bus for the return journey and  those who travelled in the bus had to walk or find other options to reach their destinations.


                    Principal was concerned about my going home and asked two senior students to guide me to my home as they both were going in my direction. I was cold with sweat. I had never walked such distance and it was not easy for me to walk at all, as my new high heels were cutting my flesh like hell.

             but some things were inevitable and this was one such moment. There was no other alternative. So with a chilling heart, I started the journey.The principal advised the students to take me safely home.They were leading and I followed them. We were walking on  the bus road which was dusty as it was not tarred yet. after walking for some time I saw that the bottom edge of my new saree was fully covered with dust. and it had turned totally brown. The students too noticed it and when I stayed to rest for a while they suggested to take a short cut.I was doubtful at first but they were persistent, telling me that ' it was very short' when compared to this dusty gravel road where you tend to falter walking on gravel. I was reluctant at first but again there was no other alternative. My left foot had become reddish and each step was hurting like hell. I wanted to run home and remove this bloody shoes at once. 


                 So, when we came to the fork of the road, my two guides took the left turn which was the short cut, and I went behind them meekly clutching my hand bag, and giving more weight to my right foot. It was only a narrow foot path.No two people could walk abreast.  The thorny bushes and shrubs grew at the edges of the path, entangled in my hair, saree and back scratching me and sometimes creating red patches in my hands and nape. The walk was very uncomfortable. I had to twist and avoid the twigs and branches on the path and I couldn't walk straight. It seemed that my two guides were well accustomed to this daily walk and they just held and avoided the branches and twigs with an easy manner.   



 Then there was a mud hole in the path,and without knowing, I fell into it. A sharp pain spread through my body.involuntarily I sat on the edge of the foot path on the long grass. The pain was unbearable and I was twisting and wreathing with pain. Meanwhile the two boys were watching me helplessly as they couldn't decide what to do.



                My ankle was bruised. The two boys were helpless and they stared at their new teacher who was in great pain. Then one of the students  picked some leaves, chewed and kept it in the wound and I gave my handkerchief to wrap around it.but it was not enough to go around and I had to tear a strip of cloth from my new underskirt.  After bandaging the wound, I just sat there for the pain to subside, then got up and began to walk slowly.But it was impossible to walk as my both feet were hurting a lot.

                    I declared bitterly that I couldn't walk.The two boys were scared and exchanged fearful glances.As this was a short cut, very few people used to take it and the boys suggested to wait for some time before one of them going to village asking for help. They asked me to remove my shoes and meekly I obeyed them.Then one of them helped me to sit on the grass. 

              We waited. During that time, I had time to think about my teaching career. I understood with regret, that It was not  the beautiful dream I had  when I was schooling. It was more deep and humane and you should be a part of it and feel what your students feeling and experiencing in their day-to-day lives.

                          Even, when my subconscious mind was handling my thoughts, I heard a distant, but approaching sound of  creaky pedals. The two students who sat with fallen faces got up and disappeared into the woods and I waited, not knowing what to expect after this upside down events happening to me. 

                         Finally, help arrived but in the disguise of an  old bicycle.The villager was running an errand and had thought of taking the short cut to reach his destination quickly. He was aghast when he listened to the halting narrative of two scouts. He offered his humble services to the "iskole nona' and apologised for the condition of his bicycle. On the other hand, I visualised him as a Greek God, who came to the rescue of a young princess. (It was me!) I was thrilled to the core.Apart from the humiliation of pushed by three males, I sat on the rickety bike and was ridden home to the amusement of my sisters and the concerned look of my father.  
                                                                
                So, finally with disheveled hair, a dusty and torn saree and a half missing underskirt I ended my first day in the school.                                                                                                                 









Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Teacher's Vengeance















The  Teacher's  Vengeance




She came hurriedly
to an unswept classroom
passing
paper balls on the floor,
avoiding the fallen flower vase
on her path,
ignoring the culprits,
who deserve punishment
in an ordinary day.

With open mouth and wide eyes
pupils stare
thinking of
the impending doom.
Anticipation is mountain high.
Consequences follow
sure as Hell.


  Spectacled eyes
throw a wicked smile.
For, it is the way
to rejuvenate
the frozen minds
of the imbeciles.


This is her day. Victorious,
 triumphant, fulfilled and vengeful,
she looks straight
into the eyes of those defeated souls.



Dropping the papers with a thud
on the desk,
straightening the table cloth with her finger tips,
picking the chalk from the edge of the table,
She  wrote on the black board,
SECOND TERM TEST.





Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Jump












                                       It was the scariest day of my life.I was  an eleven year old girl who lived with my maternal grand parents. My parents had gone to live with my paternal grand father who  owned a big plot of land and a five acre paddy field In  the dry zone.

                                                       I was a lonely girl and I had no friends in the school or neighbourhood. So my evenings were spent alone. On those evenings  I  roamed in the land where I used to live with my parents before they left.The house needed a  repair and it was in dilapidated condition. It  needed to be thatched but nobody was interested in doing so as all my relatives knew that my parents would never return to their home town.I  felt nostalgic all the time and used to sit on the threshold of the house recollecting the happy times I spent with my two siblings and my parents.On the other times I  climbed the cashew tree, the only tree in my garden,which could be climbed by me, my only refuge, in my solitude.Then there was a well, with a  crystal clear water in it showing the shallow, sandy bottom. It was an unprotected well and there was only two coconut trunks laid to prevent you from falling into it. But you shouldn’t worry about it  as you will never drown. 
                        The land boarded the paddy field which was neglected and turned into a marsh.When I stand at the edge of my land I could see the river shinning like a silver ribbon in the midday and flowing like a whispering mermaid in the evening. I could watch it for days as I was enchanted by the beauty and serenity of the river,  and its baffling fascination brought me a solace like no other. It healed my wounded little soul, shattered by the loss of my parents and my siblings. It was a usual thing for me to run to the river bank and sit for hours observing the setting sun and the grandeur of the sky in the dusk or the cloud formation which always made my mind run wild with joy.
                                       
                  It was sometimes  my custom to observe the river across the paddy field standing by the fenced land of ours.One day when I was looking at the river I suddenly developed an irresistible urge to jump across the marsh to the river bank .It was a short distance and I think any boy or male could do it easily . I have felt the desire from time to time but this time I was fully drawn to the thought like a magnet.My whole body shook passionately as in fever and the feeling was indescribable.


                       my feet was trying to fly and the blood was warming in my legs to give me a boost for the thrilling act.I knew It was mad even to think of such a thing as I was doubtful whether I could land on the river bank so I stamped my feet hard on the ground to change my trance, but to no avail.

                          before thinking of anything else, I sensed that my body was lifted onto the air, and within a fraction of a second it was dropped into the marsh below.Even today I didn't know how it happened . I heard a splash and then I was stuck in the mud.

                 When the cold, slimy and greenish mud came to contact with my body I came to my senses and realized the gravity of the situation.  I panicked and shouted for help.but I knew that there was nobody in the hearing distance.  I thought for a while again and called the name of my next door neighbour, who was a distant relative of mine.but it was evening and definitely he would be at his work place.I observed the river bank closely to see whether there were any children playing or any other person who had come to collect his cow.no help was there. I had to find a way to save myself.

                 

                    I tried to wade the mud but there was nothing to hold onto.Even the few reed plants In the marsh were beyond my grasp and I couldn't think of a way to reach them.I tried to lift a leg to reach a reed plant but then I sank deeper into the mud.I stopped any movement and began to think. It was strange now but I have forgotten my initial fear and became  logical.


                  My only help was the reed plants so I tried to reach them again.  Each time I lifted my leg ,I sank deeper Into the mud, but finally I managed to catch a single stalk of a reed. It was not strong enough to hold my weight ,but using it as a support I held onto the next nearest reed plant of which the roots were very sturdy.

            Then half wading and half sinking I caught reeds from one to another until I crawled from the slimy mud onto the land emitting a foul smell. my frock up to my armpits were blackish brown colour and I couldn,t bear the foul smell coming from me.

       I ran to the well and began to draw a bucket of water and started scraping the mud In my frock.at the same time I looked around to see whether there were any eye witnesses who could narrate the Incident to my grand mother which definitely warrant a punishment.  It was very difficult to remove mud as it was very slimy. then I washed my hands and legs well to remove the unpleasant muddy smell from me. I crept Into the house without being seen by my grand mother and changed into a new frock.I was very quiet during the whole evening as this unexpected Incident had given me a rude shock of my life.

                      My grand mother noticed my silence and commented on it but I kept my secret to myself.Yet, the next day she had found my frock with dried mud on it and questioned me. I tried to lie but was not successful.She was furious after listening to my halting explanation with eyes streaming with tears and thrashed me well.She prohibited me to wander in the river bank  and paddy fields alone and threatened to inform the lady teacher who resided close to our house.

                                  I got scared and promised to do her bidding In the future and to behave like a good girl.I kept my promise but only for a few days.The river was my consolation for my loneliness and how could  I expect my grand mother to understand the fact? but this time I was very careful not to do my wanderings when grand mother was around. For who could bear the punishment of kneeling near the school gate for everyone to see for a whole day !



  

           


















Friday, May 10, 2013

Don't give up hope





                                                                   It makes me melancholy even now to recall that heart rending incident.There are some happenings  in our lives over which we have no power to change or modify it  in any way but accept what has happened passively watching it rip our hearts a little bit whenever they happen. If I say that this is one of such, I am not lying.

                                       My son was subjected to an allergy when he was a little kid. As a result  he was derived of some activities and hobbies of which  he was passionate about. He wanted to be in the school cricket team and joined practices when he was in grade three. I used to stay with him after school, in one of the empty classrooms watching him mingle and play with other kids under the instructions of the cricket coach, who happened to be a teacher in the same college.

 after two or three hours he comes to me dead tired but glowing with satisfaction. He, narrating his achievements in the ground, we both walk to the bus halt, take a bus ride home or sometimes stop by at a cafe to have a short snack to tame his hungry tummy.

 but his pleasure didn't last long.after two or three sessions he seriously fell ill and the doctor decided it was the dust that causing him the allergy.It was  tormenting for me to break the news to him; of my decision to stop his cricket practices. I remember even now his disappointing face lifted up to me and asking ' why, only I can't play, while Piumal and others can.' I had no answer and I couldn't remember my reply. He was moody for some days and especially directed his anger at me.He saw me as the one always taking decisions to ruin his joy and I saw his resented eyes.

Though my heart bled for him, I had to hurt him again when he put forward his other passionate plea. One day after having dinner, he suddenly declared ' I want a puppy !". I was uneasy and stole a glance at my husband. He avoided my eyes. My son's gaze was directed at me unwavering and they were challenging. "I stopped cricket for you.. Can't you give me a puppy even? Piumal's Lassy has delivered a  a litter of four puppies and he promised that he would allow  me to choose the most beautiful  puppy from his pack "

                 His torrent of words flew and I was numb with pain. How can I explain complexities and injustice in life to my little one who expects only solace and piece in his tiny world? I opened my mouth , yet he guessed what was coming and became aggressive.  "Don't say NO to this" His voice shook with emotion.He threw a pleading look at his father but he shook his head which indicated a negation.

   Then he looked at me again, tears streaming down his cheeks.His little mind was confused and he couldn't find why his beloved parents were doing this to him. Hastily I said" putha, I will get you one when you are a little older. Can u remember what the doctor told you? Their fur is bad for your health.Do you want to take medicine  and the  inhaler daily ? Be patient like a good boy and when you are cured, I will find you a beautiful puppy for you."

                   He was inconsolable  He just threw me a disgusting  look and  ran to his room, and  flopped on the bed. For a few days I sensed his distance. He just played with his toys but rarely came to release his childish patter. The one he loves most was giving him the heartaches which he simply could not bear.

                I, on the other hand was suffering immensely as I knew that he was going through a psychological trauma.But there was nothing else to do. His doctor advised me strongly that it is vital to keep him away from animal fur, dust and any other thing which will trigger his cough. It was unthinkable to give in to his request when I remember how he suffer when having a bout of wheezing. It was pure hell to watch his agony. Lying on the bed, he breathes laboriously, long and slow, each breath like his last.Even after giving medication,  it takes at least two or three hours or sometimes more to come back to normal. At those times his strength was completely drained and he sleeps long. From time to time I gently put my hand on his chest to check his heart beat to make sure he is o.k. His regular breathing lifts my spirits and then only our household becomes normal again.

                  But, fortunately, a pediatrician who worked in Ridgeway hospital came to our help.He was a somewhat peculiar fellow when compare him with other doctors, yet an excellent physician with a superb  knowledge of diagnosing.He took time to examine my son and prescribed him some medicine and asked me to come after one month
              Gradually, in each visit, the dose of medication was reduced and finally the doctor decided that my son could do without medicine.How happy I was! I felt like worshipping his feet.All my fears and doubts vanished and with preventive medicine I returned home with a  heart made light with hopes for future.

                     Though my son was unable to play in the cricket team he was able to resume his regular activities in school.The frequency of developing the wheeze was getting less and less.

                       It was that doctor who gave me hopes for my son's recovery and I am indebted to him forever for understanding my helplessness.. He is a good doctor and still treats patients.

              I want to publish this post as a tribute to good doctors who still whether the hardships and challenges of a monetary society, yet able to remain as humane and compassionate human beings.