THE MARCH FORWARD
A for Apple.
B for Ball.
C for Cat.
The first look we had of Sunny’s house was of him surrounded by his schoolbooks and pencils, reading aloud the English alphabets with an endearing dedication. It was evening time and Sunny was hard at work on his homework for the day.
When he saw us he stopped mid day, threw us a nervous look, and ran into the house looking for his mother. Soon his mother appeared before us in a cotton sari with Sunny coyly eyeing us from behind her.
“He is shy of strangers, but after a while he opens up”, she told us apologetically, and led us into her house where she lives with her in-laws and three sons. Indeed it was true; soon he began interacting with us and talking about school and friends.
Sunny is 5 years old and is the youngest of his three brothers. He studies in Nursery class in a nearby English medium school – a decision made by his now- martyred father. His mother explained that her husband was appalled by the teaching standards of the public schools around the area and decided that private schools, though they cost more, is the right choice for the future of his kids.
Do you like to go to school?”, we asked him.
“Yes, I like school as I have many friends”, he said with a bright smile. “In the evenings I like to play in the nearby temple ground”, he also added.
Since Sunny’s mother is not well educated his brothers help him with studies. English is especially not the family’s forte, and her son struggles with the subject. But Sunny is very keen to learn the language and practices his alphabets regularly.
“What do you want to become when you grow up, Sunny?”, we asked the child.
“A policeman like my father”, he said without a second thought.
Though his father was martyred when Sunny was only three years old he often hears stories about his father’s bravery and wants to become like him. His mother later told us that still doesn’t know that his father is no more.
“Sunny does even know the meaning of death, how can we tell him about his father?”, she questioned with her eyes fixed to the ground. We had no answers to give. She said that every time Sunny asks about his father she tells him that he is in on a big, important mission and will come home soon.
“A child can be easily distracted and that is how we have kept the news away from him till now. But one day we will have to tell him the truth”, she confessed as her eyes filled up with tears.
These are the foundation years for Sunny and his mother is protecting him from suffering and arming him instead with the means to a fulfilled life.