My Short Term Job
I shrieked as I clicked down the phone after answering my uncle’s call.
“At last my boring mornings and lengthy afternoons are going to come to an
end” I thought. My uncle had at last had searched a job for me. Sitting
idle for 6 months with an MBA degree in hand was unimaginable. Though I
was shifting to New York along with fiancée, it would be impossible to
spend my days dreaming about my rosy future for the next 6 months. I had
to do something. But which company would give a job for six months. So the
search had become a little difficult. Nevertheless my uncle made it. He
had kept the ‘job opening’ as a surprise and said would tell me in person.
So on Sunday we invited him for lunch.
“So uncle, what job have
you searched for me?” I asked eagerly, as we sat at the lunch table.” You
will be very happy to know, and excited to work” he said” It’s a teacher’s
job” .Resting his gaze on me he continued “at an orphanage” My mother’s
was the first reaction” what will she do their Ramu” she chuckled. “Sangha
sevaki preethi!” My brother said and gave a short laugh .My father frowned
at him and there was silence.
It took me some time to
come out of the jerk. All my enthusiasm drained out I asked” Ramu mama, is
this job suitable for an MBA graduate?” From the day my search for
my short term job had begun, I had chalked out the most suitable and
convenient jobs for me. I had dreamt to sit in a call centre and talk in a
foreign accent-I thought it would make my life easier in New York.
Had hoped, I shall become
a short term Research Assistant, and help my boss come out with a thesis.
A consultant job would not be bad, I thought. At least a personal
secretary job in a leading firm would do. I know I was demanding too
much. But tell me, do dreams have an end and greed a limit? My
retrospection ended and I came back to the present .All were looking at my
uncle .He had begun to speak” what do you think? It’s a right job for any
and every human being” he emphasized.
I opened my mouth to
defend, but he disapproved it with a wave of hand and continued” Before
you’re an MBA graduate, you are a human being. And helping a person to
mould into a better human being is the greatest job you can ever do “At
this point my father looked at me, as though he was reading my mind. As an
approval to his guess I said” But mama, what will I teach them? Marketing?
Finance? Stats?” I laughed within myself.
“That’s up to you” my
uncle began. “You teach them anything. The authorities of the
orphanage had requested me to find a volunteer who can spend time at
their school and groom their children. I thought you would be
interested. If you’re not, then forget it. We will search for another
job, where you will know what to do” This time his voice was grim.
Silence enveloped the scene and all were waiting for my answer. Not to
dishearten my uncle and break my father’s IDEALISTIC DAUGHTER image, I
resolved to take it as an experience albeit resenting this queer
The first day of my job
dawned. All through the way to the orphanage with my uncle, I was
enveloped in thoughts and doubts…”what shall I talk to them? What can I
teach them? Would they know English? How do I react?
My introspection halted as
we reached the destination. We were greeted by madam shyamala. After a
little tête-à-tête, I was briefed about the children at orphanage. There,
we were told, children ranged across various ages. From 5 to 15.They were
either abandoned by their relatives or were born orphans. So dramatic was
her narration, that I actually imagined all the children sitting in a room
and brooding over their lives.
Quite contrary to my
imagination, as I entered the hall, the gossiping and murmuring stopped
.All the children got up and greeted me in one tone” Good morning teacher”
Madame shyamala who was standing beside me whispered “They were expecting
you” I nodded back and gestured the children to sit. When she left, I
still had no clue as to what to speak. The children as madam shyamala had
noted ranged from kids to teenagers-Tanned skins, oiled hair, cleanly
washed faded clothes-these were my first observations.
As I was still
contemplating on what to speak, a girl from the group asked “didi, what is
your name?” Surprised and quite pleased by her uninhibited gesture, I
replied “preethi” and asked back “what yours?” “Kamala” came the reply.
When I smiled and nodded to her, a boy from the group shot “won’t you ask
my name?” This time truly surprised by his demand, I giggled and asked his
name. ”Raja” he said proudly. At this point an unexpected commotion began
in the group- voices shouting “didi I will tell my name” “ mine too”
“pinky” “hey you stop, I will tell first”” No me”
Not expecting this, my reflexes took the
lead. "Hey stop! Stop! Well if you don’t I shall not give you chocolates
tomorrow” I didn’t expect to say this. I gave a gap, and the unrest
rested. I continued” yes, I am planning to get you all 100 chocolates! If
you keep quite I will get them. Do you like them?” “Yes!” they shouted.
Smiling, I thought my first class has thus begun.
The next hours of the
class were spent in introductions, warnings, giggles... When I went back
home in the evening questions were ready to attack me. ”How was it?” “Were
they naughty?” “What did you teach them?” To all I gave one answer” It was
good. I enjoyed it” As I was retiring to bed, thoughts ran across my mind.
I had meant the word “enjoy” more than it signified. What was it? That
word...satis...Groping for the word, I stepped into sleep.
My consequent classes
seemed to get on fast and short. I had begun to feel at home here. My day
started with a heart full good morning from the children. Most of my time
at home was spent in making color charts, dolls, recollecting grandma
stories and taking suggestions from my mom. I no more had to think on what
to teach them. They implicitly told me what they had to learn-Their
behavior was to be disciplined, their minds had to be directed, their
language had to be modified, their hygiene had to be rechecked. On the
whole they had to be ‘tailored’.
I began to learn their names by heart. I began to understand what made
them happy and what made them cry. Surprisingly they were never a bore to
me. Their uninhibited behaviors, untainted expressions, intimate demands
pulled me nearer to them. I began seeing a new identity in me. The one
which I never knew had existed. I used to talk to them hours together.
Tell them about the stars in the sky, the fishes in the water, the demons
and the Gods.
While the teenagers shared with me their untold desires, the kiddos talked
about their untold ideas. I listened to both of them and was discrete
enough to react to both.
This new identity that I
began to own, was different from the others which I had already
owned-daughter, sister, friend, partner. This one was called ‘preethi’. I
never had to pretend in front of them. No norms or rules. Just being
myself -preethi My classes were no one way teaching. It was a two way.
While I taught them what to do for their living. They taught me how to
live. There was inextinguishable energy in them. Their power to smile
under all situations made them superior to me. They had no regrets. They
did things because they wanted to. To them taste didn’t matter, but food
did. Clothes didn’t matter but clothing did. Beauty didn’t matter but
affection did. With I had learnt t live a life that I had never lived.
When the time had come to leave, I wished I had never come here. For I
never knew parting from loved ones would mean so much pain. Through the
tears of each child I could see the reflection of my own sorrow. ”Didi
when will you come back?” one asked. Before I could answer “you will come
back na? Why are you crying then?” Said other. I had no answer for either
of them. The only reply I managed to give them was a hug. As I drove back
home, my thoughts were running fast “Job. That is what I had wanted. A job
that was suitable for an MBA graduate. I taught them nothing I had learnt.
Rather I had learnt what I had unlearned”
Story Teller Anamika