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"Dreamers cannot be tamed"
Entering the dilapidated and antiquated establishment, my mind was running riot with thoughts of humiliation which would descend upon me. The sun was at the zenith, scorching the bijou ground the compound encompassed. It was a modest facility, this Government school, with a single entrance opening directly to the noisy, crowded and colourful streets of Dehradun (India). I could hear the peddlers' cries as I walked in to complete the Socially Useful Productive Work (SUPW) for my final year in advance in eleventh grade.
Having done many other social services and starting my own colony community named 'Pristine', for initiating local cleanliness campaigns, one would say I'd have a penchant for social work. As true as it was, never had I ever practiced teaching. And teaching was exactly what I was supposed to do. 'Teaching a bunch of ninth graders would not be so easy', and the enveloping heat wave made matters worse.
I walked over to the warden and greeted him, while adroitly veiling my turbulent thoughts with a gentle and charming facade. As I waited, I could hear the voices echoing through the faint blue walls, all withered and creviced. The furniture made an unpleasant screeching sound when pushed. Soon enough, I was called in.
I found my class of around 20 students, leisurely gossiping, all in their casual attires which were dusty and ragged; it was proof of their compromised standard of living and education. The classroom with poor lighting and an acrid smell created a dull atmosphere. In contrast, the students' faces possessed an enigmatic jubilee. This capriciousness alerted my senses against some crafty prank they might have planned. Ignoring my intuition, I introduced myself and they reciprocated the investment.
'What should I teach? No, how should I teach? Will they listen to me?'
My mind was at infinite density, about to cause the Big Bang 2.0. Then, Mahim, a student, reached out to me and asked if I knew some amazing facts I could tell them. I did know some pretty amazing facts, so I started to tell them. Their faces lit up in response. Later, I realized their main interest was in the universe: black holes, stars, etc. My astonishment knew no bounds. 'How often is it that one finds someone with a common interest?' Most people in my vicinity didn't care about such "trivial" things as supernovas, clusters and paradoxes. But these young, ninth graders had, for me, surpassed the level of an ordinary classmate.
Nonplussed, I taught them all I could, whatever I could, while they kept bombarding me with questions- curious questions- some, whose answers I had no idea about. The discussion we had made time flow as swiftly as a zephyr. Their voraciousness for Physics had born out of their admiration for 'Genius'- a documentary on Dr. Einstein- whom I consider venerable beyond limits. Their eyes shone with iridescence like a melted lake, which was previously frozen, shimmers in the Sun. It was the sparkle that dreamers possess. What I had expected was impudence, what I received was quintessential discipline and interest.
I had been oblivious of the fact that teaching is a two-way process. While I taught them about singularities, they taught me of persistence. They had been living away from their parents, looking after themselves and learning with utmost tenacity. Looking back at this experience, I realized how similar my situation would be soon and how expeditious I would have to be. The profound inquisitiveness of my 'interim' students had kindled a fire in my heart to relentlessly pursue my dreams. I realized that no matter either how grandiloquent or underprivileged one is, the knowledge one possesses or even pursues balances the scale of life.
Walking home through the dusty loo blowing in the Doon Valley, enlightened, with a newfound resolve, the words by Paul Coelho entered my mind-
"Dreamers cannot be tamed."