The tea and samosa could wait, Shirley told herself as she made to tear open the envelope an agitated parent had left on her table. She had ten minutes before the faculty returned from the dining hall to resume the parent teacher sessions. Shirley pushed her glasses back up the nose and held up the pale yellow paper.
Dear Teacher Progressive,
I am sick and tired of your patronizing and judging. Please stop telling me not to push my kids and take some time off your high horse to learn the difference between nagging and motivating; diminishing and enabling; projecting and nurturing.
The air is thick with educationists spouting fonts of wisdom, Oh I have heard them all: just let your child be happy and stress free; let them follow their hearts; try not to live your dream through them; you could end up embarrassing and alienating them.
Have you any idea dear madam? Do you not smell the violence in the air, the lack of conviction in our leaders’ voices, the horrifying truth that there is no lofty peg the buck stops at? For all my desire to retain a benevolent view of life and mankind, the fact is that I see queues everywhere. I read and hear and feel the system that rewards ill-gotten power and money. Every morning at the bus stop, it feels like I am sending my little one into the war zone. Do you really believe that your polka dotted and star laden bulletin boards camouflage the real world we all inhabit?
Of course there are struggles and more but the most poignant of them all is my fight as a parent to keep faith and hope alive for my kids. I see strange things. My children come back from competitions with stories of favoritism and partiality. I shuddered the day they spoke of having their teacher suspended. I no longer know what to tell them about patriotism, truthfulness, sense of duty. Anything and everything seems to go. There is that hollowness in the air, a dry throat-ed scratch to sounds of humanity, the public aura is clogged and clouded. A new attribute is being lauded in children: street smartness. Am I being foolish, telling my children to be nice and decent and responsible?
Petrol costs 71/-, the dollar has touched 62/-, hospitals take 20,000/- upfront for simple registration, food is adulterated, public transport unsafe, the land I just bought may have come with a forged deed, the courts are corrupt, schools overloaded, clinics understaffed, airwaves compromised, water and air polluted and you are calling me a doomsayer!!
The only armor in the face of this claustrophobic hostility dear Madam is education, influence, self-sufficiency, marketable skills. It is out of my hands. I cannot but push my kid. It is my moral obligation to equip him/her for survival in the future. So save your harangues on letting the kids be or else, for a day, only for a day, come wear my shoes.
Middle class parent
Shirley looked up at the knock on the door, “May we come in Ma’am?”
She nodded, gesturing the couple towards the chairs. Folding the note carefully, she turned to the parents, “Please guide us Ma’am. Our child finds it very difficult to get up in time for the school bus. There is too much stress in school. We want to spare him this daily hustle and bustle. What is your opinion on home schooling?!”