Thursday, 7 March 2013

‘My Dreamland.’

I dream a dream of being in my dreamland;
Its tall buildings, landscape and vistas
Fascinates me and soothes my aching soul.
Its woods and planes do seem to me
Like a magical world of dreams it be.
But I shall question through eternity,
Would the soil there smell of fraternity?
And will the air smell of love?
Will one live in freedom and age with dignity?
Will a mother feed her children
Love, warmth, sweat and blood?
Will all people pray for you,
Even when you mean none to them?
Will people forgive in humbleness
Or curse you in utter disgrace?
If be not these in my dreamland,
I would rot in a happy hell
Than prosper in an unhappy heaven.
The land full of hopes, the land free of guillotine,
This is my land, my country Bhutan.   
                                                                                             -Rinchen Phuntsho.

Teacher – by Choice or by Chance?
I vividly recollect to this day how I stammered and stuttered while delivering a speech on this same topic as a final year trainee in the exalted Paro College of Education. My talk, then, centered on the behaviours of the trainees (including myself) juxtaposed to the expected behaviorism of a would-be-teacher. Now, five years into the service, the same question confronts me.
Situation has changed considerably since the time we last attended the lectures at the Colleges of Education. New times bring forth new challenges. The syllabus has changed, the classrooms have changed, the class strengths have changed and so are the customs of the schools but have we changed to meet the challenges of the changing times? Are we who we have been many years before? Or have we undergone some amount of transformation in making ourselves congruent to the changed times?
Do we judge a student’s performance by his/her academic transcripts? Do we take their cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains into consideration while measuring a child’s performance? Do we just deliver the bookish knowledge or endeavour to infuse personal attributes and values of a good human being? Are we just taking into account his/her physical growth and relegating their mental growth? Are we? Are we not?
A child is the mirror of a teacher. What became of your students is what we made them become. How he/she is, mirrors how we are. A teacher, who, fuelled by his intrinsic motivation, utilizes his environment positively in favour of his students, is destined to produce a productive member of the nation. It is wise to produce a good servant than to produce a bad leader.
A teacher by choice has an intrinsic motivation to motivate the unmotivated, wake the un-awakened and educate the uneducated. These attributes are mirrored in the success or the failure of his/her students. “Children today do not study and the parents are not bothered about the performance of their children” are but lame excuses. It is the duty of the teacher to illuminate the darkness of not only the students but also their parents and make them equally accountable for their children’s performance. A good teacher must not circumscribe his/her reach within the four corners of the classroom but should, on the other hand, strive to make the whole wide world his/her classroom. After all, service to humanity is service to god.
A teacher must free himself from the social and racial bindings. Teaching is never limited to certain privileged groups. A child rummaging through the piles of garbage and a child languishing in the comfort of his extravagant luxuries equally deserve the attention of a teacher. A teacher’s heart, which many feel never grows old, must not be swayed in favour of any student. It must never be subjected to such impurities of mind. Teaching should be a prayer from the heart and not just a word from the mouth.

A story by one of my CE students from the School of language and Cultural Studies

The Unseen Fate
Rabgyel, 30, was a tall and handsome man. Ongmo, 22 was a girl whose beauty could make any man turn and stare as she walked. Rabgyel and Ongmo were different in so many ways. While the former was shy and quiet, the later was frank, friendly and was fond of talking. Despite this, they were the model of a perfect couple. Their relationship was admired and much talked about by their friends. Apart from love and care, the strength and continuity of their relationship imprinted from their respect. They would look at themselves wonderingly at how perfect they looked together.
After a year, Ongmo gave birth to a daughter named Tenzin. Their bond still continued with the same affection as if it was carved on stone. They were the happiest family in the community and very soon they became parents of two children.
In due course of time, Rabgyel, working for the Ministry of health, got training for a year in Bangkok and Ongmo, a housewife stayed back at home looking after their children. They tried every possible ways imaginable to contact each other through phone calls and emails and their love was binding glue.
It was during one of his holidays that Rabgyel went home to meet Ongmo and his children. It was the day they had been looking forward to for a long time. The mere thought of seeing each other was in itself a paradise, but the next day, their excitement subsided and it took a wrong turn. They spoke of going their own separate ways. Rabgyel wanted to know everything. “What’s more to know?” asked Ongmo. They had always been in touch and had known each other so intimately or at least that’s what she thought till then. But he grew jealous on even hearing about a male colleague she was close to, particularly a guy named Nyenjay. He had heard so much of him as always being with her. When Rabgyel was in Bangkok, he had heard from his sister and a friend that a guy named Nyenjay was always with Ongmo, never leaving her side. This was one reason why he wanted to meet her so badly to find out if the rumours he heard back in Bangkok was true. He looked mad and though she tried her best to explain, he did not listen and was stubborn. He complained so much about her Continuing Education where she had enrolled herself to upgrade her qualification. It actually was a question of insecurity in relation to their relationship and it became a daily routine for Rabgyel to scold and harass Ongmo. The more their differences rose, the harder they fell.
Rabgyel left for Bangkok the next day. Neither could say anything more. All they did was hurt each other’s feelings and parted. He disappeared from her side like a rainbow and she cried alone. If only he had trusted her a little more and valued her love. She was left home all torn and hurt, her love at risk and herself in stains. She had always been faithful but Rabgyel thought so low of her. She cried in her room round the clock. Something just did not seem right and she could not go to sleep.
Months later, Ongmo’s thoughts were interrupted by a phone call. She rushed to the drawing room and held her hand to the mobile phone. Unexpectedly, it was a call from her friend Kinley. Before she could say anything, she blurted out, “a divorce” and she knew the rest. They were silent for a long moment before she broke down. “Kinley, please don’t tell me that Rabgyel wants a divorce from me…don’t say it’s so…please!” she cried into the phone.
“I am so sorry Ongmo,” said Kinley.
She sank into a deep despair. Everything shattered. She thought of their togetherness, “Trust me honey, you are the only one I owe my love to in this world. Can’t you believe me?” he used to say and then his most selfish remark, “I heard a lot about you and a man named Nyenjay from my friends…what’s the story between the two of you? No! Wait! I don’t even want to hear it…it’s over between us!” She wanted to hold him back and clarify but it all happened so quickly in the blink of an eye.
On Rabgyel’s return from Bangkok, they got divorced. Their dreams were all shattered and their two children were left separated. One day, when Rabgyel was cleaning the house, he found Ongmo’s diary lying beneath the bed. He could not believe that she had recorded each and every moment of their love and affection. He opened the page 27, dated 18th July 2012 and read:
Dear Rabgyel,
In my heart of hearts, I have always loved you with all the strength in my soul and will continue to do so forever. As always, you will be a part of me. You were the sole person I wanted to devote my memory to for the rest of my life. Never in my life have I loved any one as much as I loved you. Back then, you never let me explain about me and Nyenjay. This is the last chance for me to explain about him before you start your life anew. Nyenjay is my long lost brother…
Rabgyel could not believe his eyes but he read all…….
Yours Ongmo
Rabgyel knew that he would never forgive himself for what he had done. He knew that he would live his life with regret. If only he had listened to her…..if only….if only…….