I remember encountering a couple of guardians in 2012 hot and humid June. They want their daughters to pursue graduations from our college that too in anthropology. The reasons being the same poor marks have made them incapable to pursue honours in other disciplines. Both the daughters however scored well in their secondary examinations.
There are challenges for both of them. Their parents are landless agricultural labourers and hence they are poor. Thanks to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Schemes there is some hike in the wage.
Both the daughters have their mothers work in the field and they too offer help every once in a while.
There are more challenges, they do not have any option than to stay in the hostel which requires money. Moreover, girls outside the home means a) there is an absence of 'helping hand' at home and absence of an additional labour force for the kitchen garden, b) yes, they are not 'that pure' back home, back in the village, c) who can afford spending for a girl whom you plan to marry off.
However, it was a pleasure to see their parents throwing challenges to at least at three aspects of everyday society a) gender stereotypes, b) economic challenges and c) gambling with taking up a not so marketed course.
It was an extreme challenge for the daughters too. They were supposed to study in english - a language much feared. Moreover, anthropology happens to be a subject without available textbooks. One has to do a lot of reference works.
Haldia happened to be an amazing place with teachers willing to take up such challenges.
In fact the same is applicable for at least three more boys. I remember those guardians looking at me the person in charge of the admission and also belonging to the department. 'I cannot afford a private tuition - said one of the guardians.' I smiled and said 'you don't have to! Keep the faith'
I remember giving extra load to my senior colleagues. 'You people have to check whatever they write in english and check them meticulously and help them identify the patterns of mistakes'. Thankfully all five have been most consistent in attending classes and post class english training sessions. Being from the hostel they could spend evenings in the staff room every once in a while discussing, writing, arguing and watching movies.
With increasing attachments to the department they volunteer in restructuring the department before NAAC visit when i aready left the college for routine transfer.
However they were making wonderful progress in not only perceiving anthropology but also in english and computer skills.
Meanwhile one of them scored highst in the university exam and anotherone stood second. The rest however secured comfortable first class excepting one of the girls.
I remember the one scored highest told 'dont worry sir she will score better in part iii.'
Yes while others remained consistent the girl scored magic figure 60%.
However, it was beyond my perception that their parents will allow them to continue a post graduation course. But they did and now we have top five of the university- our beloved first generation learners.
Teachrs' day message carried a photograph of my very last day in th college with the next generation faculties whom we transferred the batton. The message said 'sir please remain happy as you seemed in this photo'.
Yes, this is pleasure even when you are not there.