A Story to Bring you a Smile (Keerthana from Renuka School)

Sometimes, a few things make you sit back and smile. Here’s one that happened today.

For a few years now, we’ve been supporting a set of 10th Std girls through Maths and Science tuition in a Govt. School in Bangalore, called Renuka School.

We had planned for a Parent’s Teachers Meet (PTM) to discuss the progress with the parents, who range from security-guards, gardeners, plumbers, laborers and women typically being house-helps. And it was a delight to see eleven of them turn up. But this story is not about the PTM!

We’ve actually had a few girls drop out of the tuition. Our teacher Rajnikant, had reached out to all these parents too and urged them to come. One of these kids was the topper, Keerthana.
She had stopped for the last three months and despite attempts, she would not show up. Last week, Keerthana confided that her father had very little interest in her studies and was discouraging her for these classes. She was almost in tears. Her father constantly watched TV, the ambience was noisy at home.

The PTM started and I was keeping an eye on the door for Keerthana and her father. Her father had promised to come….The meeting ended in a couple of hours and despite a very engaging conversation with the other parents, a niggling strain remained in the heart. Keerthana did not show up.

Suma, my friend asked the kids if any of them knew Keerthana’s home. One of them did! Suma’s eyes sparkled and that was it. Suma, Rajnikant ,the kid and I drove down to their house.

Knock, Knock!! We could hear the TV !! A few minutes pause, then the door opened. And of course, there was an expression of complete bewilderment once the father realized the tuition class has come home literally ?. We were a tad relieved on not seeing him get antagonistic and welcome us. Incidentally, it was quite a reasonable house with the father being an “in-charge” in a garment factory he said, a picture of him was framed and displayed on top of the refrigerator. His older son he proudly mentioned was studying BSc in a college and he had put him in a hostel. The Mom, hidden in the kitchen, was hardly visible- the balance of power was clearly evident. We told her that her daughter was doing very well and now was the last smile sprint in which he needed to support. The father’s excuse was that he did not have time to take Keerthana for the class, to which we offered a solution. Long story short, he assured us she’ll be attending the classes hereon.

At the corner of the room, there stood Keerthana, with a faint sliver of a smile.

As we were driving back, we were brimming with belief. That Keerthana will be there from tomorrow for her classes. And that she will go onto change the world.

And, we were hoping that we changed hers a little bit too.

(Note: Name changed to Keerthana to protect identity).