The Best Student
The Best Student2 mins 414 2 mins 414
Sunja was the sole aanganwari worker for 10 years at this center now. In this isolated village of Assam hills, no one wanted to join the aanganwari. So Sunja had continued to work even after her retirement patiently waiting for a young recruit to take over.
The tea estate laborers respected and worshiped her like a goddess of care and learning. Had she not been there, their children whom they left under her wise guidance would have otherwise been left unsafe and lonely at home or stranded. Among the twenty-odd children that visited her center on any day, was Kharo. The youngest daughter of the full-time tea plucker. No one could miss those two curious eyes shining brighter at the sight of an alphabet. Her school bag, strapped to her head, in which she carried her small slate. The best student..... she didn't care if her frock back dangled open and buttonless from behind. Her hair unkempt and dry like a coconut coir rope. Each moment of Sunja's lessons was earnestly absorbed and remembered. Time acquired wings as Sunja effortlessly taught her new words, sentences, and stories which passed out as lessons.
That was ten years back.
"We cannot let you go madam. You know no one would come to fill up your vacancy. No one ever came. What will happen to our young children"
"Don't you all worry. I will be back after a month. Your children will not be neglected. I have an apprentice to take on my role in my absence"
Then Sunja proudly looked in the direction of a young teenage girl approaching confidently from above the hill.
"Kharo will teach when I am away."