Dear Madhu

(This guest post is written by Fiona Vaz, a fellow with Teach For India. When asked about herself and this blog post, Fiona says- ‘Have been placed in a school in Malad Eastnamed Divine Child High School. I teach Grade Four students this year- and taught the same set of kids last year while they were in Grade three. I once took my kids to Crossword book Store and saw how delighted they were amidst all the books. This prompted me to do a book drive for them. Thanks to Chintan, the mail travelled, literally, all over the world, and we had everyone supporting us. Now we have so many books that we are distributing them to about 6 schools and numerous other fellows. This post describes how books have helped to truly nurture a brilliant mind like Madhu’s. It is also a thank you to all those who helped collect the books’.)

Dear Madhu,
76 books in six weeks? Are you kidding me? At this rate you will surely cross the class goal of 200 books in a year.

I want to be honest with you. In the whole of last year, I just could not give you the attention you should have had from me. For some reason I am more concerned with those kids in the class who are unable to do anything- read, write or count. I leave it to your Sir to push the achieving kids, like you, even higher. I also felt that you could do without my attention. You have great confidence and high self esteem, so I felt that you received enough gratification from your own successes and didn’t need me to congratulate you all the time. At times I forced myself and refrained from publicly speaking of your excellence so as to not intimidate the other kids, and it didn’t matter to you. I was right.

But the other day when I was very angry with the class for not doing the homework and you not only did your homework but also celebrated your sister’s birthday, filled water and read your story book (“four chapters in the evening and 8 chapters in the morning”) I couldn’t stop myself from saying that your brilliance amazes me. Since that day, yours is the face that flashes in my mind every time I worry about what will happen to you once I leave. I believe in your abilities enough to know that you will do good- but I know you are meant to do greater things and for that you need someone to guide you.

When you were helping me transport the thousand books from the staff room to the make shift library- the day we found pink baby rats in the drawer, I remember seeing your face when you said wow. You didn’t know that I was watching you when you were on your toes peeping into the drawer delighted that there are so many more books to go. Should I tell you, we have just received an additional 56 cartons of books?

You asked me later, all covered in dust, if I was going to take these books away with me when I leave, and I said no. But you know what Madhu? Even if I don’t take these books away, these books might just be away- from you. I cannot promise you that you will be able to access these books when I am gone. But I will do whatever I can to let these books be your guides to that ‘greater’ that I see you doing. Last year when I came here, I promised I would do everything to make each one of you fully achieving your potential- this year I promise, I will enable you to independently achieve your maximum potential. I owe this to you.

I will leave these books for you Madhu. And when you become an engineer-writer-leader –visionary pass them on. And that day you will stop being my student and will become my partner in this mission that we will jointly continue.

See you tomorrow,
Fiona Ma’am.


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