With a prayer in my heart

Srabani Bhattacharya

The alarm rings
A host of activities it brings
Begins another day of hustle and bustle
Aromas and sounds of
Spices crackle
The human figure
Takes care, makes arrangements
No time for her to calm
All of a sudden
Time is up
The breakfast plate she has to grasp
Sits and gobbles
Here and there some objects topple
Time is flying
Twenty minutes left
Have to keep the computer set
Dresses up and is now all done
Logs in and now the day has begun
The next long day
Will now become small
Because once it starts
She is always on call
Night descends
All messages sent
Eyes are drooping
She is cooking, cleaning and making the bed
Finally she ends
To the world of sleep she transcends.

Since time immemorial, the job of a teacher has been to create responsible, thoughtful and diligent human beings. They have opened doors leading to sparkling futures for their students and assisting them in carving a niche of their own, rendering them timely motivation and encouragement. I also try to carry out this responsibility.

But before stepping into the world of teaching, I fulfill a different role everyday – that of a caretaker, my family’s caretaker. I look to all my family’s needs before changing hats and stepping into the school zone.

But the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a drastic change in the way schools function. Overnight, teaching methodologies encountered numerous challenges. But we are those who believe, “Do what you can with what you have, where you are.” Plans were made to avail the opportunities at hand. We became the immediate family members of our students, taking a close look and channelizing the energy of the youngsters who had lost access to the outside world.

Teaching now constituted not just of delivery of notes, corrections and exams. We were now using tools such as Mentimeter, Kahoot and Nearpod to teach. With technology, I realized I can easily go beyond the textbook and give my students some extra knowledge. Teaching is no more a manual process but a technical and inclusive one. I have had my students teaching too in the online classes. Together we also prepare for competitions and practice performances for festivals and national holidays. I am now a multi-tasker, training children virtually by devising new means to collaborate and coordinate. But there is a deep void – no physical interaction, friends deprived of playing and meeting one another, teachers and students not in the same room.

After my classes end, I attend to household chores, after which the afternoon hours are spent checking notes, monitoring, motivating as well as training the children for upcoming competitions and also attending departmental meetings and webinars. The sun rays go down in the horizon. With a sigh of relief, I shut my system down as it is time for me to peep into my groceries and vegetable stock and start making dinner and looking into the assignments my own child has to complete.

Like most of my colleagues, I have now learnt to balance both home and school while staying at home. Such is my routine these days. With a prayer in my heart that all my dear ones be safe, I am fulfilling my duty – the duty to build a generation of educated, responsible and compassionate individuals who will emerge stronger to wipe out not just corona but other viruses of the society as well – hatred, inequality and rivalry. And so I continue to work with the hope that one day COVID-19 will end, the morning sun will be witness to the assembly taking place in the school premises. We will be praying together, free to shake hands, to congratulate, and hug to show our care and empathy.

The author is a teacher of English and Social Studies at the Gitanjali Devashray School, Secunderabad. She loves teaching which is her passion along with music and painting. She can be reached at srabani@gitanjalidevashray.com.

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