By Volunteer Shritama Sarkar, FHI Bangalore
As Aadi returns home after playing Gulli-danda, he sees his mother cooking some rice and pulses wondering if it would be the right time to remind her about his school fees. By the time, Rohan and Anju, his siblings come over and he gets involved with them. They all go to see their ill father in the other room. Their father has been ill for a week now. He sells newspapers, but due to his ill health, he’s been unable to go to work since he’s been sick. Only the savings have been the support for buying his medicines and very minimal expenditure on meals was made. They all had dinner that night in the bedroom itself so that they could all have the meal together.
It was 10.45 at night, Aadi set his lantern on the floor of the hall as there was no electricity in their village. This was his self-study time, the time that he took out every day for learning a new topic. It was about the solar system today. He was always intrigued by the study of the universe and how the system in which the cosmos runs works. Whenever times were hard or there was a sense of unpleasantness around, it was always the day’s learning that worked as a therapy for him.
A few weeks later in school, the principal called Aadi again to her room. He felt nervous walking towards her room and as he entered, he could see the stern face of this lady. She scolded Aadi severely due to the extreme delay in the payment of his school fees and warned him of expulsion if he failed to pay the fees by the next day. Aadi’s eyes were filled with tears and he was very scared. He returned home in terror that day and that’s when he was faced with the news of his father’s loss of a job. He saw his helpless parents and siblings, their eyes filled with tears. The fever was not going away and his father’s health kept on deteriorating. The savings have been too little now and they were struggling already to make ends meet.
Aadi realized that it was high time now. Being the elder son of the house, now it’s his turn to stand on his feet to serve his family and recover his ill father. He thanked God for being warned to be expelled from school as he thought this made it easier for him to look for an opportunity to earn money. But little did he know, money spent on education is probably the biggest investment. Education that not only makes kids learn Math and Science but as well prepares them to tackle and find the appropriate solution in trying times like these.
He was one of those few children in the village who went to school. All his friends worked in the nearby field the whole day and rarely came out to play. Aadi started working in one of the nearby fields. His desperate situation forced him into exploitation with overwork and less wage rate. This went on for months and became a permanent routine eventually. Their situation got better. Meeting ends became a bit more smooth and their father as well started getting well because funds were enough to be invested in Medicare facility as well. But Aadi’s school remained unfinished. His potential bright future, his passion to learn remained unfulfilled. His younger siblings didn’t even start going to school. They followed the suit and started working in the same field a few years later being exploited the same way!
One kind of story that is not so uncommon in the rural parts of the world and reveals an equally saddening situation.