school

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For the Love of Learning

Published March 4, 2015 by sidmary

Who among us has never seen or experienced the early morning frenzy that seizes the households where everyone has to leave for some place or the other and reach before a certain time? School students, college students, university students, office workers…it is a routine unmanned by occupation. However early you get up, and however fast you get ready, the clock in the morning ticks at an unparalleled speed trying to make you late.

What if in this situation, in the time it takes you to hear the horn, open the door and move out, your van leaves? What if, even as you stand at the gate, you see the receding behind of the indomitable vehicle mocking you in the face for the one second delay? At least once in a lifetime, this has happened with most of us.

But wait…! What if your wish or need to get to school, or college overpowers the misery and seething anger you are feeling at the situation? What if you get into your car and drive across half the city to reach the institution, only to realize that you are one minute late and cannot enter the premises? Blam! There goes the world crumbling around you; one more morning incident to fire your nerves and heat your blood. You go quickly over the schedule of the day in your mind weighing how important attending classes today was…and you comfort yourself with the conclusion that you will get notes from your friend and all will be fine. Then you go home and plop on the bed, making up for the sleep you lost last night making an assignment you had to submit today.

What a comedy of errors! Or maybe a tragedy? Who knows? However, there is one very important aspect to this not uncommon scenario that it would a tragedy to not explore: the policy of educational institutions to send students back home even if they are half a minute late. Yes, just thirty seconds worth of delay.

Let us look first at the reasons for this strict policy. It is majorly because institutions want to instill the value of punctuality in their students, and maintain some decorum in the school that such strict policies are made; and yet one is forced to question: is all fine with this?

The early schools which were the centers of learning and research were homely places where all were welcome. They were institutes from where learning developed and advanced, and the forbears of the educational institutions we have today. They developed the sciences which are taught in our schools today, but what were their salient features? These were schools which remained open at all times. It was sin to close the doors of learning on those who sought them. Knowledge was sacred, and withholding it from the seeker was blasphemy.

In the modern day, when education has been institutionalized, rules and policies are required to be stricter. Students are and should be expected to adhere to certain norms of behavior, but the strict policy and rule making should follow some rules too. Humans are not sheep- all to be herded indiscriminately by the same stick, and education and learning is not a child’s play to be taken lightly and undervalued by the centers of education themselves.

To instill punctuality in students and maintain the decorum of schools and colleges, penalties are and should be issued to those who undervalue the importance of learning and those who are religiously non-punctual, but to send students home who are late once in a blue moon and with genuine reason is blasphemy! What educational institutions encourage this way is students going home and sleeping the productive morning hours away. Along with the student, they are equally to blame for the loss of precious time and perhaps more for not understanding the value and importance of one whole day of learning.

It is about time that educational institutions make policies with practicality and the objective of learning in their minds. The effort of one who wakes up in the wee morning hours, gets ready and travels a good half hour or more to get to school or college should be appreciated and respected, and more than the clock’s face should be considered when sending one back down the same path they took to learning.

Open-Book

–Sidra Maryam

White Noise -3

Published July 5, 2012 by sidmary

He was on foot. He had gone to the park two blocks away for his regular evening walk and had just met a long lost friend. They had forgotten the time as they talked. The friend finally departed with a promise to come for dinner the next week. He remembered that he still had one lap to do, and resumed it. Half way through it, he heard three distant, distinct gunshots. The park was almost empty. Then his wife’s messages began coming: one after another.

He glanced quickly around him, and keeping to the border of the park, moved out. The streets were empty and an eerie silence reined them. He took the shortest path home, keeping in shadows as much as he could.

As he passed near the shops, he saw a man lying on the middle of the road, looking up at him helplessly. He quickly averted his face, adrenaline rushing in his veins.

‘The gun-men must be somewhere near.’

As he closed into his street, he heard two more gunshots. He hurried his step. When he finally entered his threshold, he closed the door softly behind him. Anxiety was still coursing in his veins and his face was flushed. Aneeta was in the entrance hall, her face panicked.

As he entered his bedroom, more shots were heard in succession. Now there were other noises too. Aneeta entered after him:

“What is the noise, Baba?” He turned around.

“Shut the door, sweet.” She closed it.

“What is happening, Baba?” He turned his back to her again.

“Close the window, sweet.” She followed.

“But the noise is deafening, Baba!” He lowered on his bed.

“Pull the curtains, sweet.” She adhered.

“The noise is going to kill me, Baba!” He lay down.

“Cover your ears, sweet.” She looked up helplessly.

“What if they kill me, Baba?” He closed his eyes.

“Go to sleep, sweet.” She was sobbing quietly as she exited.

                        x——————————————————–x

Mama and Baba took me to a doctor today. There was a big big room where many people sat. I could see my face on the floor. No one spoke over there. They just sat and looked. I don’t know what they looked at.

It was so hushed: I wanted to run and touch all the blue tiles but was afraid of doing it. Mama just tapped her heels on the floor: tic tic tuc.

The clock hand came to three twice on my Mickey Mouse watch before the doctor called up. I didn’t want to go to him. I wanted to go home.

He asked me strange questions, and looked at me with big, empty eyes. Then a girl in white came and took me away. I waited outside. Mama and Baba came and no one spoke. In the car, I sang ‘The wheels of the bus.’ I asked Mama to sing with me; she did not. I was annoyed, so I sang at the top of my voice all the way.

Now Mama does not smile. No one smiles, no one laughs. It is sick! I sing. I sing all day; I sing the same rhyme over and over again and no one stops me. Not even Bhayi, who hates it. The vacations have started:

“The wheels of the bus go round and round;

The babies in the bus go ‘Uayn Uayn Uayn;’

             The mothers in the bus go ‘Hush Hush Hush;’

The people in the bus go up and down…”

It has started to get boring.

                        x——————————————————–x

The day she died was another silent day. The heat had been oppressive. She was playing in the garden with other children from the neighborhood. They had brought in their toys. Ali had brought a brand new toy gun; a very expensive one that his father had bought at a mall. It gave her the creeps, but she did not say anything.

Soon, it was the center of attention. They began “role-playing” with it. Ali pointed it on Shaheer’s forehead, and he pretended to fall.

She felt her body going numb. Then everything blacked out. She did not know when she was screaming, or when she was falling.

It was a hot afternoon; not even the birds chirped.

The doctors said she was normal. She probably had a shock and her nerves were too weak to support her.

The children were too afraid to speak. Their mothers kept them home.

Hamza chose the line for her tombstone. It said “When angels tread on Earth, they can’t bear it for long.”

                        x——————————————————–x

Ten years later, when even her parents and brother had forgotten to visit her, a young man came and brought roses for two tombstones: hers and his father’s.

THE END

White Noise -2

Published July 2, 2012 by sidmary

They pulled up at the red signal. A car stopped to their left. They could only see the man, though there was a woman next to him too.

Two men came with guns in their hand, their faces covered. They pulled up the tinted windows, and looked in front of them, immobile. They came to the car next to them. Voices could be heard; then a gunshot.

Aneeta looked up, her eyes wide with wild fear and vulnerability. As the bloodcurdling screams of the woman hit their ears, she began screaming too. Hysteria.

The lights on the signal turned green. They moved forward, his mother trying to calm her down.

                        x——————————————————–x

The next day was Saturday. On Monday, Hamza did not come to school. He phoned him. The incident was more than he could contain. He told him everything he had seen. Then asked him why he had been absent.

“It was my father.” The phone went dead.

                        x——————————————————–x

His parents were separated. Somehow, after five years, they had made up. HE lived with his mother. It was the day they were meeting; they had been going out for dinner. He had remained home.

Everything that happened; everything that was bad; every “just one of so many:” it was always others. Wasn’t it? Just one in hundreds, thousands, and millions- it was never supposed to be him! Then why?

He knew why: his father always kept a gun with him; yet he had not used it this once. He was not going to let such a day come to him. He never would be confounded.

                        x——————————————————–x

“Give me the ball, Aneeta.”

“No, I will not; and you can’t take it from me.”

“Oh yes I will,’ He said as he lunged towards her. She dodged and he fell on his face. He got up and lunged again; fell again. He grimaced as the other children jeered and clapped.

“You are going to pay for it,” He scowled.

“Ahan? What are you going to do, really?” She jeered, encouraged by the clapping.

“Oh, I will get my father to blow up your house. He is in a high office, you see? So he can do it.” He made an evil face.

She froze. The ball dropped from her hand. She started screaming. By the time the teachers came, she was hysterical. Her parents were called. She was sent home early, still screaming.

                        x——————————————————–x

Dear Diary,

I am so worried about my little angel! Things have not been the same since the day we witnessed the accident. I had kept her face down, my hand on her neck; yet in that moment of weakness when my grip lightened, she saw it. I am sure she did! I am sure she saw the blood too.

She has nightmares too. Not a day in the past month have I not woken up at night by her screaming. She does not seem to remember in the morning. Every time, her eyes are glazed and she mutters strange, undecipherable things wildly. Then she begins to shout them, her arms flailing; and then, as if exhausted, she falls into bed again. Next minute, she is snoring.

The first day it happened, Atiq and I stood at opposite ends of her bed. When I looked up, I saw disorderly trepidation on his face. I am sure it reflected mine. We took an appointment the very next day from a psychiatrist at Liaqat National. It is scheduled for the day after tomorrow. I dread it, but I can’t wait for it either. We went to the park last week and Aneeta began raving about peeking eyes in the bushes. We hurried her home; she was panting all the while; we put her to bed.

We don’t watch news in front of her anymore now. Not with the ever disturbed conditions of the city, and the other time she got distraught about it.

I wish God would erase two days from my life: the Friday a month back, and the day after tomorrow!

The school still has not told us anything about what happened the day we brought her back early.

I am so apprehensive about everything now! God bless!

Saeeda

p.s. The accident we saw that day; the man was Hamza’s father. We went in a shock when Asfand told us. We went to pay our condolences that Tuesday. His mother was in a state: I did not know that they were making up. Asfand settled after a week. I hope Hamza and his mother are okay now.

                        x——————————————————–x

Spring Cleaning

Published June 25, 2012 by sidmary
Nederlands: bookshelf

Nederlands: bookshelf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clearing my cupboard and making place for new books and exercise books is a yearly ritual; and its never too easy. Its a time of special spring cleaning, and brings forth all the dried flowers and weak thorns pressed somewhere way way back in a magical realm. I did my “spring cleaning” a few days back. Its just a cupboard or two, and less books than in a library, yet it takes the whole day; even two days at a time.

There is a lot of shifting of books to do. One pile sorted out takes the place of another. Many books that won’t be used again, and exercise books that won’t be used and won’t be referred to are piled in a corner to be given away for recycling. Heated debates are carried out about whether a book needs to be kept or not. (These are course books, not the ones we buy out of choice.)

Then comes the most debated issue of exercise books. Each person is left with his own to take care of. “Sort out.” I open each exercise book in this process. These are of the just past academic session, and of every year before that. I slowly filter the pages of each notebook for any hastily scrawled memory, any note passed in the class, any hilarious or downright depressive sentence or drawing made when studying was just not looking so appealing…I grope desperately to hold on to every thread of memory…

I find jokes, verses and small autographs in the notebooks. One said:

                              “Promise Promise one two three,

You will not forget me…..” Then the friend had signed her name.

Scrawled on the another page was “I would die for happiness… only, it would be no use.”

The first page of a copy from class five said that:

                  ” They say this time won’t come again, therefore enjoy,

I say do something worthwhile for the time to remember you by….”

An answer to a question in grade three about my favorite color was written that I like every color because they make the world beautiful.

I value in my heart each star, each smiley face and each compliment written on those papers. I value each innocent notion, and each petty complaint. I hold on to the time that is gone. I hold fast to every shard of memory that my slowly filling mind and cupboards can contain. I yearn and I long to keep them to myself forever, yet every year, some stock is cleared away to make room for new things, new memories…

There is a glow of pride and pain as I empty bits of my cupboard. There is still years old stuff that I visit yearly at spring cleaning, and keep back in the shelf as something sacred. Probably next year, or the year after that, or many years hence, I will clear that all out; create a larger space for everything new…but till then? Till then, each year at spring cleaning, I will take them out, moist my eyes, touch them to my heart, and keep them back…

Protest Against Homework: A School Girl’s Plea

Published December 22, 2011 by sidmary

This is another poem I wrote in Grade Six, and something that makes me smile. The rhyme and the meter goes awkward at some places, but I can’t think of how to correct it. As I have a knack for writing down the dates when I write and maintaining a chronological order, I would mention that this was written on the 10th of October 2008.

M.A in this poem stands for “Marked Assessment”

 

A young child of my age I see,

She was deep in thought or stressed maybe.

The creased lines of worry are not for her age,

Or are those lines on my own face?

But why are they? oh why? oh why?

Be them on my face or thine?

Is it the homework or the heavy schoolbag?

Or the constant backaches and headaches caused by that?

What with aching shoulders, up the stairs to her class

And the sleep-strewn eyes that look like glass;

Can you expect her to do well that day,

In her English, Science and Maths M.A?

She stayed up late, it’s written on her face:

She could either sleep or work on her homework case!

 

Oh why is study becoming a labour:

All those books every day of the year?

I don’t disagree with the course of life.

And study is a job to which we must abide.

But are not the hours of school enough?

Or probably some research and review for home

Rather than hours and hours of “homework” stuff?

 

Now on behalf of the girl and me,

And on the behalf of all our “kind,”

I plea and plea: Oh teachers mind!

For play and fun, do give us time!

And not much work for home please give,

It seems like a revenge or something!

 

Nothing against you, like parents you are,

And forgive us if any wrong we’ve done:

Just don’t give as much work as you do,

Oh please oh please, listen to me too

 

Sidra Maryam

Optimism of a School-going Child

Published December 22, 2011 by sidmary

I was sifting through my old journals when I found a poem I had written in grade six. I wrote it when I was extremely fed up about going to school. Right now, it seems funny. I hope and I suppose you will enjoy it:

When I was young I remember so clear,

I went to school but not out  of fear.

But out of hope of the weekend to come:

Just five days left,

then four than three,

two, one , then none!!

 

Sidra Maryam

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