Friday, December 19, 2014

लकीरें - A poem

Ranadi, a small village in Reodar, Sirohi District , Rajasthan. The home of 186 families; predominantly SC. A small classroom in the village upper primary school. Little ones, six or seven years old, are busy opening their books and notebooks for the English period. The teacher writes down the names of fruits and vegetables on the board. She writes their Hindi counterparts too. The class resounds with the names of fruits and vegetables. The teacher now checks the copies of students one by one.

I cannot help but notice how tiny the notebooks are. Each page can hardly accommodate more than a few words. The large, disjointed letters cram themselves between the lines. One child in particular has trouble writing the letter S in his ‘four lined copy’. The topmost line is filled in by the teacher in red ink; several scarlet Ss in a row. The child comes time and again after filling the page using his pencil; his Ss leaking all over, but perfect, so perfect in form. The teacher patiently erases them and says each time, ‘Jao phirse karke lao’ (Trans. Go and write this again). I think of Padma Sarangapani, of the aspirations of a rural, tribal community, and of the child. My heart fills with an uncontrolled desire to write, and finding no paper I write in my mind. The first time ever I write in Hindi, and a rather long time since I write at all –


चार लकीरों के बीच
सिमट गया है
यह बच्चा ।

वही दायरा है
बस वही जगह
रहो ।
कुछ तो सीखो ।

मैं बड़ा आदमी बनूंगा ।
पर यह लकीरें
कहीं और ही ले जाती हैं

-         रीमा कौर