“What is your name?”
They looked up at their teacher seeking their tacit approval and then said meekly, “Balbir”.
This was not the case with just one kid at the school run by NIV called NIV Vidya Mandir, but nearly all the 200 kids who were present there.
These students were kids of guards, gardeners, drivers, labours and construction workers. They were not shy but scared of speaking something wrong in front of us; Mee and Jey and our photographer friends Vikas.
It took us sometime to connect to them, helping them overcome their fear of giving unwanted/ inappropriate reply of our questions and their inhibitions about voicing their true choices.
In reply to our question about what they love doing the most, many said ‘studying’ while others remained silent.
It is difficult to make these kids understand that there are several opportunities waiting for them to be embraced even when their parents don’t have much money to live a secured life. But we had colours and smiles. I shared with them that I wanted to be a mermaid because I love swimming. They smiled.
Then Jey started talking about how he always wanted to be a house fly, so that he could fly in and out of his house without any body’s permission. They all laughed loud. That was our first achievement.
Soon we were talking candidly. No later I started drawing symbolic human figures in different positions and with different props like stethoscope, astronaut suit, diving dress, flowers and cycle.
With each new sketch the kids cheered and shouted the name of objects I was drawing. It was just to bring them in to the mood of painting their dreams on the wall of their school: their second home.
Students drew a man driving Nano car, one fanning her mother, a figure sleeping in a hut, one flying in sky, one with flowers in both the hands and all that they could think of. The near 40 degree temperature did not deter them from living their dream of their bright colourful future.
and here we bid adieu