Since we have come back to India, 'J' and her best friend from Scotland 'P' have been talking through Skype, both girls enjoy this and they almost do all the things through Skype as they used to do when they were together in Scotland, well almost, like playing hide and seek, talking about their imaginary boyfriends, showing the little new things they get on weekends or the presents and gifts. We, meaning mums of 'J' and 'P' enjoy this thoroughly. And yes we mums also talk a lot on Skype!
Along with all these, 'J' tries to tell 'P' about all the new things she is observing and experiencing after returning to India. It becomes difficult to make 'P' relate with all, who has never been to India but 'J' tries her best. 'P' tries to understand them very seriously, after all these are her best friend's stories.
Last day, 'J' was telling 'P' how she spent her birthday at school, she told her that she was wearing home dress (not uniform) and then she distributed chocolates to the class and all the teachers and she touched teacher's feet and they blessed her for good health and happiness. 'P' understood all the other things but she asked innocently, "So all the teachers had to take out their socks"! 'J' then tried to explain 'P', what does it mean by touching feet in India (it is a form of showing respect to the elders, mainly a Hindu tradition) and that here it is so hot that teachers normally don't wear socks, along with their footwear. Then 'P' said, "Alright, I understand now"!
Then 'J' also told 'P' about the morning prayers and national anthems they sing every morning at school. Both are not anymore performed in schools in UK. 'J' again explained her that one is for God and another is for the country, India.
Very easily in her own words, she comprehended spirituality and nationality, the two most important flavors of India, which is its main strength and becomes very difficult to deal with when spirituality boils down to religious and nationality into inter-state affairs.
'P' tells 'J' about the projects they are doing at school in Scotland and 'J' listens to them with a feeling of awe, as her days are broken into reading, writing, finishing home works, even art and craft is just copying a drawing from blackboard to her art book and coloring them. Thankfully in the neighborhood, there are lots of kids and lots of play and fun happen there, but at school it is pretty conventional two dimensional way of learning from blackboard to paper. She therefore tells 'P', "I am tired of home-works and strict teachers." 'P' keeps quite for a while, then she says, "Don't worry 'J' you will manage fine, you will be very good in your studies." Off course this cheers 'J' up fully, (much more than when I say the same things to her!) and then they move on to talk about High school musical or Barbie and the three musketeers.
I also leave them talking and keep thinking,
Should we leave 'J' and let her struggle for a while and every thing will be alright?
Should we look out for other school? But if the education system of the whole country is like this we will not be able to find a school completely devoid of pressures.
Should we again go back to places/countries where children are provided lots of space to grow?
No there comes no answer, but may be you will know with in next year or two, through this space.
For the moment I feel lucky that 'J' has a peer who listens to her pressures even from a far away land.