Wednesday, December 9, 2009
A Startling Revelation
The math teacher at far right!
On December 6, we headed to Koni's farmhouse at Shamshabad. It was his 17th wedding anniversary. The idea was consistent with my plan of a 'Farm Improvement Day' where I had suggested that we work on the farm for a while, play, eat and return tired after getting our hands in the mud. So I piled on alongwith Shobha and Anjali. There was not too much work going on, though I tried a bit. More focus on cooking, eating and consuming. Anjali kept herself busy with the others and that gave me some time to do a few new things.
Such as playing snooker for the first time in my life. I pocketed one ball and did a follow up on another and went 'YES'. My yes factor for the day! After that I was too ecstatic and gave up on the game and turned my attention to more familiar games like table tennis, carroms and even a bit of cricket after a whole year of being away from the game. Time flew ofcourse what with friends around - Koni, Anu and their two kids Sushil and Sagarika, Madhav, Trina and their two kids, Sridhar and Alexi, Kiran and his son Rohan, me and Shobha and Anjali.
An entire day of stuffing myself did not stop me from grabbing a plate of dinner when I met the caretaker's wife who apparently makes some phenomenal 'pappucharu'. She turned out to be a maths teacher in the nearby government school. (She is standing in far right in the picture.)
I asked her which classes she taught and she said she taught the primary classes. She said the medium was Telugu and the pass percentage was about 55 this year which was down from 65% last year. Next year they planned to increase the pass% to 75%. I asked her if the students needed to pay anything and she said there was no fees. The children also got a free midday meal. That was really nice I thought. Free education if you want, and food as well. And if she was any indication, the teachers appeared committed as well. I don't know why, but I was always sceptical about this free education until she said that it's really free. Good old government.
I asked her what the percentage of girls to boys was. And that's when I fell off. She said 70% were girls. Where are the boys then? She said she did not know? And then she volunteered another piece of information. She had gone on a ration card survey recently for the government and she said, out of ten children eight were girls! The boys are just losing out on the numbers. It was really startling news to me.
Anu said that the case was the same in her Pharmacy college where girls far outnumber boys. Something there for sure, but whatever it is, it's for the good. It will be nice to see educated women holding the family up with their strength, clarity and love. A point that Greg Mortenson makes. The maths teacher is a case in point.
Her two daughters score 100% in maths she said proudly. They go for tutions early in other subjects. She helps her husband whenever guests come to the farmhouse as if she was a farmhand, cooking, cleaning, washing and waiting on everyone without any hassle about being a working professional. And also makes the best pappucharu this side of town.
You cannot miss the determination on her face. Caretaker's wife or not, she is going to see that her family will improve its lot so many times over the years. I can see the clarity in her mind as she speaks shyly out of turn, professional to professional while she stirs the pot, giving out numbers, percentages, opinions and analysis, which normally your corporate MBAs and CEOs do not seem to have at their fingertips. She has already seen the future panning out exactly the way she wants it, every move - higher education for her daughters, house, marriage. And that determination will bode well not just for herself and her family, but I suspect, for those children at school as well.
We are in safe hands there.