I was tired. Nothing else could sum up my feelings right at that moment. Kids screaming all around me, blind kids to add to that, loud banging of desks, noise. Argh.
Why was I doing this again? The volunteering? The social service? Satisfation. Yes. That was it. I sighed as I tried once again to pacify the screaming children. It was any average monday morning for them but unfortunately for me, I had to be at school in an hour but instead I was here, dealing with these bunch of bratty kids. Their teacher told me she'd be away for "a minute" but instead left me here with these demons for ten minutes!
I am not a kid person. Really. They're small and they're evil. They are designed to manipulate you.
As I tried to calm them down, again, my patience went to the dogs, "SHUT UP!" I screamed. A momentary silence fell upon the children and in less than two seconds, they started screaming all over again.
Joy. I was beyond angry and before I could react one of the children hit another boy's nose. The whole classroom fell silent and in a matter of seconds, loud wails resounded throughout the corridoor. The irritation got to me once again, I couldn't stand wailing children. I reminded myself about my aim-- to help other people and then picked up the wailing child. In minutes, the rest of the children in this classroom of ten settled down at their desks, suddenly sober. I looked around for their teacher frantically and on not finding her, I just put the boy on my lap.
"Shh.. Stop crying, baby. What's your name, huh?" I asked him. Apparently, my idea didn't work. This lead to louder sobs and then I looked around for the boy who had hit him. I found him standing in one corner, looking utterly confused.
Who could I blame? When these children couldn't see a thing, how could I even blame them for doing something wrong? I took the boy's hand and sat him down. The other children were all-ears for what was about to unfold.
"What's your name, child?" I asked him.
"Chi-Chirag." He replied, his voice quavering. I gently wiped away the tears that were already down his face and told him, "And your friend there? What's his name?"
"Pankaj." He told me.
"Chirag.. Hey. I'm your student voulnteer for the day-- Oye! Stop crying. Stop crying.."
"Chirag? Do you want to say sorry now? To Pankaj? I know you didn't hit him on purpose.. But don't you want to say sorry? Look there! Pankaj is crying! Say sorry no, baba?" I tried in all possible ways to make the two children calm down, apologize and move on. I had better things to do, frankly.
I pulled Chirag by the hand and sat him down on a desk next to Pankaj's. I don't know, till today, how these children sense who surrounds them in an instant without the power of sight. Pankaj instantly moved away from Chirag and sat pouting in another desk, with a huge teddy bear separating Chirag with himself.
"Kids." was all I muttered and I went about looking for their teacher. I came back without her in two minutes to find that the classroom was noisy again, kids screaming, desks banging. I muttered curses and made the girls sit on one side when I noticed that the loud, boisterous Chirag was not in action. I looked around to find him seated at the exact desk I had put him. Pankaj sat a little away from him, the huge teddy was still the mediator.
Chirag quietly inched a little to the side, probably thinking that Pankaj was sitting there. Chirag, obviously, had no idea that Pankaj had moved away from him, because he couldn't see.
Chirag put his chubby little hands forward and touched the teddy bear's face. I walked forward to hear Chirag talking, softly, "Pankaj.. I'm sorry. I didn't hit you on purpose. I'm sorry.."
I don't know what touched me right at that moment. It was maybe the fact that a child was apologizing to a teddy bear by mistake or that he was just apologizing, but I found tears in my eyes as well. Chirag touched the teddy bear a little bit more strongly now saying, "Talk to me no?! I'm sorry." Chirag was crying now as well. Pankaj, I found to my suprise was sleeping on the other side of the desk, oblivious to Chirag's little speech.
I gently picked up Chirag and woke up Pankaj. I guided Chirag's hand to Pankaj's real face and told him to say sorry. Both the children made peace in a matter of minutes and then went on to torture me by screaming and making a noise with the rest of the children.
And as I stood in that classroom, I learnt a valuable lesson from these two kids. Sometimes, It takes a lot to realize you've made a mistake. But to apologize for it is another thing altogether. As a mature person, it still takes me a long time to do that. But to see two little kids let go of their ego's and say sorry whole-heartedly? They deserve a prize.
Then, I stood in the middle of the classroom, the very same classroom with the screaming and the desks banging and the loud children and I smiled. Maybe this wasn't that bad. :)