I spend a lot of my free time thinking about Haji Public School. I am currently sitting in Ranchi in a hotel room after a day full of adolescent girls laughing and I pictured my classes in the school.
I know teachers aren’t allowed to have favourites. But I might have enjoyed teaching Class 7 (now 8) the most. They were a small class full of characters. Mefhooz who could never really sit down. Munee and Humeera who were quiet and vibrant. Ajaz who asked questions and wouldn’t let me proceed till he understood. Haroon who surprised me with how well he wrote, everytime. Ramzan who was eager to learn, patient with my many failings and insistent with his questions. Shahid who spoke loudly and finished things quickly, his brain working much faster than his hand. Abbas who once made me cry while I corrected his exam paper – he wrote about the dismal state of the world with so much violence. Umar who rarely came to class but was always quick to grasp things.
Once before their English exam, I had created a treasure hunt with them. Each location would have an entire set of questions that they had to solve before deciphering the clue to the location of the next set of questions.
Ajaz being Ajaz was super sceptical. “We will lose. I don’t want to play.” I had to encourage him to have fun and not focus so much on the end. I stood back and watched them play that day. They were quick, active on their toes and very diligently answered all questions. I think it was my favourite afternoon with them, until of course they told me none of them had prepared for the test.
In the end it didn’t matter who won. We sat in the classroom after discussing their mistakes, sharing the clues with each other and learning. I hope I taught them some English; they definitely taught me to enjoy the ride.