Monday, April 13, 2009

random, unmailed letter

To the little boy who lives down the lane,

You come into school like the rest of them, but neither do you chatter, nor do you howl, a stoic expression on your face, you walk in quietly. Your mother bids you a cheerful bye, the teacher smiles broadly and says a good morning to you. You walk in.

Your mother exchanges a smile with me, "He just does not talk in school. His sister is bright and talkative, in school and at home. He does not talk."
"At home?" I ask.
"He talks, knows all the songs they teach in school.....etcetcetc"

Your mother and I have had the same conversation through the whole year.

Every time I am there to pick up Sanah, I go upto you and say a hello. You dont reply, but of late you have been looking me in my eye, in response.

I clapped wildly for you in the school annual function. You stood on stage with the same stoic expression and as the music began, you danced in sync with the rest,and very much in sync with your own rhythm.

I wonder which school you are going to. I wonder if I will see you when I walk down the lane.

I just hope you dont go through school with the remark, "He does not speak i.e. who knows if he is understands anything."

Tomorrow is the teacher-parent session, in lieu of a report card. Your mother will probably be distressed because the teacher might say "He does not speak at all " And your mother will read the teacher's line to mean "Who knows if he understands anything."

And all I will be able to say to your mother, limply, "But each child is different. Or maybe this is a phase."

And she will probably reply," But he does understand everything. I just can not understand this."

I am in no position to say if your mother should be worried. The fact that you escape into your quiet cocoon in school is probably who you are or possibly it is the only way you know how to cope. Is it functional/disfunctional, I really do not know.

But I fear, that you will be tagged 'the different' one. And schools seldom make place for the one who is 'different'. Students are applauded for being obedient and bold. And you dont fall into this slot of dichotomies. You are not 'obedient' because when asked to speak you do not. You are not 'bold' because when asked to speak you do not.

I hope the teachers saw you dance on stage.
I wonder if the teachers have noticed how you look deep into the eyes of the person saying hello.

I dont know if this is actually a phase and if you will eventually be 'obedient' and bold' .

I really do think you are busy with the wonderful stories and impossible constructions spinning in your head. Hold onto them. And you might be lucky to find that one teacher who smells out the grand plan in your head and keeps the secret.

From the lady with the wild hair ( that is what you are thinking , right?)


Artnavy said...

that is so moving and full of hope

we are often too quick to judge are we not?

SUR NOTES said...

ArtNavy: If the teachers said he cannot focus, cannot pay attention, is locked in his own world - i could imagine their concern.

But they offer a generic comment- he does not talk -as if its a terrible thing for a child to do!

farinaz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
farinaz said...

Oh man, ... the silence would be as welcome as a light in the darkness, you'd think!
At a recent teacher's conference, Aisha's teacher too complained: Aisha doesn't put her hand up in the classroom to answer questions.
So the teacher deliberately called on Aisha one time, even though her hand wasn't up, and said, Aisha, do you think YOU have the answer?
To which Aisha replied, "I didn't put my hand up!"
The teacher said, Try to answer the question anyway.
Aisha did know the answer after all, but she too likes being quiet in school.
I think there's just so much for them to ABSORB while they are there! So much stimulation, information, .... it's survival mode!
He'll remember the lady with the wild hair AND the smile that pierced his soul.

dipali said...

Oh Sur- this was heartbreaking. I do hope he finds kind teachers wherever he goes to now.

Nat said...

I think he's going to be fine. One person he'll always remember is you though.

Munchkin said...

I hope they don't label him too soon and that it becomes his little cross to bear. Aren't they too little to have such strong statements made about them? These things scare me.

You have been tagged by the way :)

karmickids said...

Sur, this made me tear up. And you know why. God bless his mother.

Mama-mia said...

beautiful post!

it can be a cruel world out there... even in school. sometimes esp in school. amen to a teacher finidng what he is really about! :)