Friendship through Learning
I expected a knock on my door everyday when the clock ticked 6:30 am and like always there she was, Sushmita greeting me a bright day with a cup of tea and biscuits. Sushmita is an 8 years old girl coming from a minority caste group, “Darai” of Nepal.
She had literally become my friend from the very first day she came to my hostel room. After she brought me the tea, she had this habit of scanning through my room, then those bulky books in my book shelf. Once she asked what that picture of bone was all about. “It is the head of a dog”, I answered and tried to make her believe. Her eyes sparkled, “Didi, have you seen it?” I was so amazed by her inquisitiveness.
Sushmita is the second girl to her parents. At such tender age she had learnt to help her parents. She goes to a local school, completes her homework, makes tea for the customers at her roadside tea stall, and plays with her rag dolls, everything that a girl of her age would do.
I really didn’t know but among the three girls, it was Sushmita who was getting all my attention. Sushmita accompanied me in my research even in the scorching heat in the months of June. Sometimes she would teach me the names of wild flowers and weeds and sometimes she would correct my mistakes while playing. She would climb trees to get guavas and even wade through the muddy streams to catch weed fishes.
I had understood her deep interest in studies. She wanted to become a teacher. Her dreams were innocent and genuine. In grade I she failed in English and Mathematics and she thought they were not her cup of tea. I took some time after my dinner to teach her and with a strong zeal, she came every evening. Finally she learnt to write the names of 7 days and 12 months herself and division was no more scaring to her.
“Didi, I stood third in my class”, she told me and hugged me tight. That moment was very special for me. Her acknowledgment, undaunted love and faith were all I needed ever. This time I got a real reward from her, a cup of tea and sweet biscuits absolutely for free. In a way we both taught ourselves differently.