Giving Back Childhood – 2

The Annual School Day functions had not begun yet. My daughter pointed out her friends sitting on the other side. Her whole class and their parents were sitting there.


“Let us go there, Amma”, insisted my daughter Vani.

I hesitated. I didn’t know most of them. But we went and sat there, anyways.

“Anyone knows of any good guitar classes” came a loud voice from somehwere

“Rani, try Mathew sir. I’ll Whatsapp you the number. He’ll come to your place and teach.”

They were all discussing about studies, homework and other activities with each other. Most of them knew each other, as they meet everyday while picking up and dropping the kids to school.

Vani goes to school by van. So I hardly knew anyone there, including her teachers.

I felt like a total stranger. Vani had gone off to chat with her classmates. I tried to smile and make eye-contact with a few ladies sitting near me, but they were too engrossed in their discussion to notice my attempts.

Just then, someone tapped on my shoulder from behind. I turned and smiled.

The lady, clad in a heavily embroidered saree, introduced herself as Srilakshmi, Myhtili’s mom.

“I’m Vani’s mom, Sumitra”

For a few moments I wondered – when I was a child, people knew me as Mr. V’s daughter, after marriage as Mrs.K and now I’m introducing myself as Vani’s mom!!!

I relaised that Srilakshmi was asking me something.

“What all extra curricular classes is Vani going?”, she repeated.

“She goes to dance classes on weekends. How about Myhtili ?”

“Myhtili has music classes on Monday and Wednesday, dance class on Saturday. Its a one and a half hour class. She attends Mental Math class on Tuesday and English Grammar class on Friday. I am planning to put her in Chess class on Sunday.”

“Oh!”, I exclaimed. I couldn’t think of any better response. I was wondering how that poor kid was managing all these classes, when her mom added, “you know she is free on Thursday evenings. I was just asking around everyone so that I can put her in some class on Thursday too. Do you have any suggestions?”

“Well..”, I stammered, overwhelmed by the sheer number of classes an 8-year old was attending, “maybe she can play on Thursday evenings.”

“Ah! That is a brilliant idea” she responded totally misunderstanding my words, “I have to find a good piano class for her.”

“By the way”, she asked almost as an afterthought, “what does Vani do on weekdays, after school?”

“She cycles, plays with friends, waters her potted plants, chases butterflies, sometimes paints or draws and does just about anything she likes.”

“No, she does not attend any classes, nor do I have any plans of enrolling her in any”, I added angrily before she could ask me.

“The Annual Day functions will commence soon….” came the announcement.


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Giving Back Childhood -1

We waited in the classroom. My daughter was nervous and she kept pulling my dupatta, and squeezed my hand. I patted her hand and tried to calm her. Soon it was our turn. The teacher handed me the papers, and said, “Please check the papers, total the marks and see.”

She looked a bit stern, but I didn’t bother about that. As I turned, she added, “Ma’m, the English, and Science teachers have asked you to meet them.”

“Sure Ma’m”, I replied with a proud smile, while my daughter shivered like a dry leaf.

We took the bunch of papers and went and sat on a bench to “check” the papers.

Few weeks earlier

“There is so much of homework Amma…”

“You have to finish it, no matter what, and then study 2 chapters as well. Don’t forget that your exams start in a week.”

She looked dejected and then scared, and started to do the homework. After about 2 hours when I checked on her she was still doing her homework. I was surprised.

“You haven’t finished yet? Why are you so slow? Look, you have to learn to write fast… When are you going to study?” I shouted.

“Amma, don’t shout”, she yelled back throwing her pencil down.

I was shocked at her reaction and it actually somehow, made me forget my anger.

“What is your homework?”, I asked her calmly.

“Write all question answers from all lessons ten times.”

“What???”. It sounded more like an imposition than homework. I couldn’t believe that any 8-year-old could actually finish this “homework”.

“Sorry dear, really sorry”, I hugged her. I closed her book.

“Go play…”

Her face brightened, but then grew glum, “appo homework?”

“Forget it! We will write it slowly… No child will be able to finish this bigggg homework in one evening.” I consoled her. “For now, you go play and enjoy” I smiled at her.

I felt that my decision was right when I saw her gaily skipping around with her friends.



“What’s there to check?”, I asked her.

“Check Amma, atleast act like checking…What will the teacher think of you?”

I took the papers, looked through the marks, finished checking within minutes. I looked around, I saw many moms were checking each and every line written, cross-checking it with the text and notes. Some had come with the question papers too, to check. And in one corner a few parents were discussing as to why marks had been reduced for a particular question.

We again met the teacher.

“Any corrections, doubts?”, she asked

“Nothing”, I replied.

“Ok, please meet the English and Science teachers.

I nodded. As we left, I heard the next parent pointing out to the teacher how her daughter had written everything in the text, yet half mark had been reduced.


The teacher looked up at me, and then at my daughter.

“I had great expectations about your daughter. What happened to her recently ? She is not doing her homework, not coming prepared for her tests….”

“Yes….I know… But she has scored good marks in the exam, hasn’t she?”

“Average marks… only average marks…”, the teacher stressed, “but tell me, she used to be a good student, used to do all her homework promptly.”

“Yes, very obedient and studious”, joined another teacher.

“She is just 8 years old. At her age, were we writing 20 to 30 pages of homework? At least, I wasn’t. I was playing, climbing trees, plucking mangoes, making paper boats. My daughter is doing exactly the same – enjoying her childhood. She is no longer studying – she is learning.”