Can anyone become a hero? Even if he or she does not have the necessary skills or knowledge? Or does he or she have to train like a sports person trains in his specialized sport? Do children need to practice being heroic everyday in subtle ways?
To get to know what children felt about this idea of a hero, we asked children of Vidyodaya School, Gudalur, the Nilgiris, if they knew about any heroes. Promptly they all talked about heroes in films. Then we asked them what it was that they did to become heroes in those films.
Some said they fought against wrongdoers, others said they were good and kind towards members of their families, and some others added that they endured a lot of suffering for their families or loved ones, etc.
We also asked them if they felt that these qualities were important and whether one should imbibe such qualities? When they answered in the affirmative, we asked them if they knew people with such qualities in their homes or had come across people they felt were heroes for them with qualities they would like to build in themselves.
The people about whom the children have written are those who have inspired them or who they feel a deep respect and admiration for.
Sunil – Class IX
My uncle was the first person in my village to go to school. He completed his teacher training after school. After many months, he was employed as a teacher, making everyone in my village very proud of him. He has been a great source of inspiration for me. I endeavour to do well in school because of the encouragement I have received from him.
B. Vishnu – Class IX
I have great respect for Stany uncle. He likes Adivasis and to work among them. He travels to other countries and talks about Adivasis and their lives. He helps raise funds to support and help the development of my people. Apart from this, he also speaks to our leaders, giving them new ideas to help in the progress of our people. I too would like to be like him and build my community.
Sasi – Class X
From a very young age I have been acquainted with Chathi. Once I had the opportunity to meet him at a festival. He was part of a theatre group that put up a play to create awareness about the importance of unity to overcome the problems faced by the Adivasi community. He wrote his own songs and put tunes to them which he sang as he acted. I liked the ideas and messages he was communicating through his songs. Listening to and watching him I felt a deep sense of commitment to my people. After my studies I wish to work among my people like Chathi did.
Naveen – Class X
Rahul Anna is my role model and hero. Everyone in our group sees him as our leader. He teaches us English through games and stories which makes it easy for us to learn English. He has studied engineering and comes from a city. He is our friend and we are very happy that he chose to come and teach us. He is willing to share with us anything we wish to know about.
Sandeep – Class V
I have great respect for my great grandmother who is more than 70 years old. She is the heroine of my life. She has brought up not only me but my mother, my uncles and my grandmother. She gets a meagre pension from the government and supplements it with selling small amounts of firewood, now and then. When she was younger she had many more mouths to feed, but she has fed and educated three generations of children and I am the most recent beneficiary. My great grandfather has been bedridden ever since I can remember and my great grandmother and I take care of him. My parents have separated. My mother who works in Chennai comes to see me only once or twice a year – when she can get leave.
My great grandmother drops me at school everyday and picks me up in the evening. She cooks and packs my lunch box each day. She makes sure I have something to eat when I get back from school and keeps hot water ready for my bath. She is a very affectionate person and has never ever scolded me. Even when I do something wrong she gently reminds me never to do it again.
The author is the founder and Principal of the Vidyodaya School, Gudalur, the Nilgiris. She has been involved with the education of marginalised communities for three decades. She can be reached at email@example.com.