When we have something, we hardly think about unusual questions like “what if we don’t have it?” Whether these are day to day basic needs like food, clothing and shelter or little more ensuant things like medical care, education or entertainment. Earlier I never appreciated my education because it was really boring to dig into the books which I never liked or may be because it was hard to meet the expectations of my parents. But I never thought about the life of the people who could not afford the formal education. Some time I even envied them because they don’t have to go through the hardship of classes, assignments and exams. But then an incident occurred which changed my perspective about the need for education.
It was when I was preparing for a competitive exam to get into a good college after my school education. I came to Kota, rented a room and joined a coaching class called “Bansal Classes”. Exam date was close and everything was working fine. But life is not that easy, very next day ran out of luck. I had an accident and was bedridden. My father came with my grandmother and left her with me to take care. It was the first time she came out of village to live in a big city like Kota. I had my books to pass the time but for her it was really difficult. She felt like being in self made prison. She used to pass the time looking at the pictures in the news paper, sleeping and talking about the happenings in village. First week glided by, but soon it was too difficult for her to stay with me in a shell like room, she had no one to talk except me, nowhere to go. It was totally opposite to the village life she was used to.
Then I asked my landlady to take my grandmother along with her whenever she went to vegetable market. It turned out to be better; she now started adapting herself to the surroundings. For the first two days she went with landlady, who showed her the way to grocery shop, fruit market and nearby temple. Next day the landlady was not at home. My grandma insisted that she would go alone as she knew the way. I denied first but then gave way and asked her to be careful of the unruly traffic.
She took some money and went happily. I was back to book, flicking through the pages. Clock kept ticking and to my utter surprise it was more than one hour since she left for a job which could not have taken more than 15 minutes. I was worried, waited for another 10 minutes. Then I could not stay in the room, I thought she was lost. I ran out of the house with plaster on my right hand and severe pain in the back. I rushed to market looking for her. She didn’t even know the house address and telephone number. I was really disturbed and felt. On the other side she was more upset then me. It has been more an hour for her roaming in the wrong directions. People could not help her as all she knew was color of house. Then she told a gentleman that her grandson studies in Bansal Classes. He took her there. Receptionist at the institute looked through the student’s record, found my address and sent her with an office boy. I also came back to inform my landlady about the situation.
I was relaxed after seeing her in the room with landlady sitting beside her. She started sobbing as soon as she saw me. Landlady scolded me for letting her go alone and asked me to teach her at least about home address. For the next few days I spared some time and taught her the rudiment of alphabet and counting. She learned house address, telephone number and how to look for time in clock and set a morning alarm.
Well, now she would confuse between the Hour and minute hands of the clock. When its quarter past midnight she would say that it’s three in morning and I should not study so late.
So, this incident was a kind of eye opener for me about the people who are illiterate. May be you also got some insight about it. Friends!