In a small village near Kolar, Karnataka in India there lived Shravan with his parents. Shravan was enthusiastic every morning as soon as the bells in the main temple in the village rung as part of routine prayers.
For the little lad, it was time for him to leave home to go to school. Shravan’s school was on a hilltop in the village and the only way to reach the school was to climb uneven broken steps, a steep climb for the little boy of 7 years. He had counted the steps multiple times in the past one year since he had started going to school. It was 104 steps.
Many years ago, a wealthy merchant abandoned his house on the hilltop and since then a retired teacher who was living in the city had come to the village and thought of converting it into a school. All the villagers were very happy that a school was ready for their children. So right from young children to older ones, all were taught by the teacher in one classroom. So right from young students to older children everyone learnt one subject and individually they were given class work according to their caliber and age.
“It’s school time again, time for me to learn a new concept today by the teacher thought Shravan as he was climbing the 73rd step.” There were others of course tagging behind him. The student who reached early had the responsibility to organize a mini assembly like a prayer time. Shravan was hoping no one else had reached before him. Children between 6 and 14 were coming to the school to learn whatever the single teacher taught. Math, Geography, History, English, Kannada and one of the favorites of children Moral Science were taught to the children.
He once overheard a city boy who had come to the village for his summer holidays say how children in cities would be ferried in vans, buses and many times by their parent’s morning and evenings in jazzy cars and scooters. Shravan had laughed loudly on hearing the idea, his parents or any child’s parents hardly bothered if the child had reached the school. They were all too busy working in the fields. Farming was the livelihood. The only thing that the parents in the village collectively agreed was to send the children to the school and not make them work in the fields until they are at least 16 years.
That morning huffing and puffing, finally Shravan reached the last step. The teacher had arrived and the only security guard who was also the helper, assistant, and the cleaner named Siddhu.
Children were scared of Siddhu as much as they were scared of the teacher Mr. Muniyappa. But both were quite protective of the children and took all the care they could for them. Due to heavy rains, dusty winds and scorching temperatures in the region even on the hilltop, the house where the school was situated had started to look weathered out over the years.
“Aha, Shravan, you have come first today to the school. Ok, you get to be the leader today for the morning prayer and get the attendance register”, said Mr. Muniyappa. As the children gathered, the beautiful morning sun shone like a bright star on the hilltop. About 30 children had come to the school.
After the morning prayers everyone tagged behind the teacher and as they were seated there was a huge creek sound as the tallest child opened the window. Amidst giggles and discussions by the children Shravan seemed to be staring constantly at the classroom ceiling.
Something looked different that morning. It appeared to him as though the fan had come down a bit from the ceiling. Just then the teacher said “Not feeling too good here. Feeling stuffy, let’s do one thing children, today we will be having our class outside in the courtyard as we will be learning about nature.” Everyone stepped out and managed to settle down in the courtyard. The teacher was about to leave the classroom right under the fan, when Shravan pushed him. Startled, Muniyappa screamed and then realized Shravan had actually saved him from getting injured from the falling fan.
After he composed himself, Muniyappa gave a sad expression and said aloud, “I can only teach, but for the school to be in reasonable good condition I need funds to get many things repaired. Hearing the scream, Siddhu and a few older children came running to the class.
They helped Muniyappa get up and praised Shravan for his presence of mind. Later after the class Shravan went to the teacher and said “Sir I have come to know of a noble person who is educated and generous with his money for schools. Apparently, he stays approximately 50 kms from here and I heard my father talk about him a week ago. My father got to know about him from radio. If we can get his address, why don’t we approach him to help our school and the children for better facilities?
After six months, Shravan was again climbing happily the 85th step on a Tuesday morning. The broken steps have been renovated and yes do you know, Shravan and his teacher found out where the noble soul lived. The generous person visited the village and the school and agreed to fund all the expenses regarding the school for better infrastructure. Now Shravan’s school has a board too saying “Sharada Vidhyalaya” and it is repainted, mended and the children have also got uniforms and some textbooks as ordered by the teacher.
And you know something…..
Sharada Vidhyalaya was featured in the Kannada daily too with Shravan’s picture in the article alongside the building’s picture in the article. Shravan had all the reasons to be happy going to school again day after day.
For children 6- 9 years. BY RESHMA KRISHNAMURTHY SHARMA