Led by their fearless hands and cries of joy, the children pull me into the school. We all sit on the ground in the surrounding love and grace. Enthusiasm is palpable. It is my first chance to see the faces of these children… my children: shiny eyes — the kind of shiny that puts pearls and diamonds to shame. Bright smiles. Big smiles. Honest smiles.
Not one of them, not two, but ALL of my kids hold my hands. At the same time. And I do my best to grasp a little bit of each of their hands as a way to show I honor and acknowledge them. And then I wonder: when was the last time they were held? They each crave my glance, and when I am not looking straight into their eyes, one after another individually gets a grip of my cheeks to turn me face to face with their soul. Deep dive. Free falling and I don’t want to be caught. Suddenly it got me wondering: when was the last time anyone beheld their eyes?
My children range from being months-old babies — regularly breast-fed by their mothers in the school sphere — up to 12-year-old kids who are already parents of their own children. They all, in their totality, struggle to attend during school hours since they all beg on the sides of roads to have enough money to help their parents, to feed their own kids, or to simply survive on their own since some of them have no family whatsoever.
In our school we have no desks, no tables, no running water, no bathrooms, no blackboards, no basic school supplies — and some of my kids come to school wearing absolutely no clothing. I don’t reckon that’s their choice. Just to hold as a reference, on my first day of class, my children were writing on the wrapping paper of teabags with a piece of charcoal. Our school is a modest blue tin shed under a bridge. We are trapped between the train tracks and a busy road. It would be hard to find us, because we don’t show up on any map, and we don’t have a name for the school. Yet. If you want to find us, you may look up at the sky, wishing upon a star and ask it to direct you to a place where humanity plays its role — where imagination is free to roam, and love is flowing freely to every thirsty heart.
I have made a conscious decision to stop watching mainstream media news, as it constantly burdens my soul with sadness and despair — with constant reports of disgraces and endless wars. What I am doing here presents yet another war; nevertheless, it is one of a different sort: we will not march to the field armored with iron helms, blood-stained shields, and corruptly-sponsored machine guns. I affirm you otherwise. We shall instead fight the way to our promised land by wearing nothing but light, and the white laces of dignity and peace.
In our left hand, a book. A book from which to preach and chant out our rights with the full might of our lungs. Our rights, so long neglected in the night. In our right hand, a pencil to register the tale of our victory so that generations to come can join their voices in unison and immaculate harmony, singing and rejoicing in a time when equality shall prevail, abnegation shall rule, and education shall be within reach of all of us who can honorably be called: “humans”.
This is a call for love.
Reporting from New Delhi, India. On teaching assignment, collaborating with AIESEC in DELHI IIT
BRUNO RABELO GUMERATO, India, 2018.