Friday, September 7, 2012

She changed the course of my footsteps

“Boy, you ought to study seriously, these fields aren’t promising for your future,” his grandma would have surely thought, when surprisingly, her thirteen year old grandchild knocked the door that evening.

It was a peak summer time of the year. The thirteen year old boy chose to bunk his school risking thick jungles towards home.

In the village, fields around were loaded with maize, bearing heavy corncobs on its jointed sturdy stems. Except for the rustles of the leaves and occasional chirping of hens from their roosting cage hung nearby, village otherwise seemed dead.  Then there was some familiar smells of evening smokes giving some life to this village.

However dead it may have been, the boy had every reason to rejoice and celebrate – because he is home safe and sound; he is closer to his grandma’s love and care; he would get to stroll the forests with Lajen – his favorite cow; his teachers can no longer reach him with their sticks; he would not have to face any bullies from the classmates; and then, more importantly, he would get to drink “ara” occasionally.

To the south-west, at a day long distance stood his school facing the village. As the twilight took over the daylight, he could see starry light bulbs glow at his school and the town. Trying to figure out his dormitory within that, he gets lost in the reveries of his school days. Whenever he got time, he would stare at his village for so long and assume his grandma working in the garden below her house. At night, he would stand by the hostel window and imagine his grandma chanting Mani in her bed, while her eyes remained focused over those distant glittering electric bulbs from her bedroom window.

“Now that I’m here, there won’t be anyone staring at this village from the school, nor is there any need for my grandma to strain her old eyes with those glittering bulbs,” the boy thought. But his thoughts were not to last long. And, when his grandmother decides to put him back to the school – the very next day, he had no other option then to follow her. Trampling over his own footsteps of the previous day, he landed up again in the school, only to continue learning as long as it takes.

Fifteen years later, tears rolled down his cheek uncontrollably as his name was called out to receive his academic credentials. It was a graduation day and when everyone was in festive mood, vivid memories of grandma reversing his footsteps takes hold of him. “She had changed the course of my footsteps…, maybe she knew the value of education then,” he thought. After few seconds of contemplation over this, he jubilantly lifted high his graduation cap; shouted, “Thank you Grandma,” and disappeared among the crowd.
Today that boy has grown up to become a “happy ME”. Happy, because I’ve a degree that earns me my bread and butter; I’ve got a reliable job in the government; and more importantly, I’m living on my own. And this is what, most of us want at the end of the day.

Today, when I hear about my mother complaining about the backache; my sister shouting over neighbor’s cattle; when I see farmers tilling land in the sun and in the rain; and, when I read news coverage on “human-wildlife conflicts,” I only think of one thing, that, “If my grandma had not put me back to school that day…”

I read this story to the students of Yangchen Gatshel Lower Secondary School, Thimphu on 8th September, 2012 coinciding with International Literacy Day and the last day of the School's reading week.

1 comment:

  1. You should publish a volume of short stories titled: She Changed my Footsteps. That would be wonderful. I like this story!