Day 19- 29th June
Today was the last day, performance day. After Saturday I somehow felt like I didn’t want to expect anything in terms of the performance. I just planned to have fun with the kids and say our goodbyes. I didn’t even invite anyone to come. Juhi and Zohar called me in the morning and told me they were going to buy presents and sweets for the kids, Gayathri teacher and Gangadhar. I was happy, as I really wanted to give them presents. On our way to the school, Juhi told me that two of her friends, Ria and her mom were coming. She herself spoke to my mom who was more than happy to come. When we got to the school, we didn’t walk but went by car right till the inside. We went to school and all the kids were so happy to see us and we heard “Namaste teacher” for probably the last time. ☹
The kids also saw the number of extra bags we were carrying and immediately knew we had something for them! I noticed Asheep had a paper plane and got so excited since I love paper planes so much! I showed him how to make a different plane I knew. We all got into a circle and did the wave again! Then we tried playing this game called ‘message-receiver’ and then some other calm sitting down games in the circle. We were telling the kids that our mothers and were coming to see them. They seemed happy. We also asked them if they wanted to perform inside or outside and to our surprise they said both! They were completely prepared, excited and ready to do anything. It was really a great atmosphere and their excitement flowed in to me too! I was looking forward to having my mom there and wanted her to glimpse into my experiences of the past 2 weeks. After we played games, Gayathri teacher sent the kids out to recess and we asked them to bring their parents with them when they come back. During recess, I sat and spoke to those kids who stayed back. Heena finally came to me with her book and asked for homework. After I gave her homework she was back to normal and spoke to me properly again. I was so happy that she was talking to me. That’s all she had wanted. I sat with Asheep to play some more games. Then he made a rose out of paper and gave it to me! We also took some pictures with all the kids. As the kids started to come back from recess, our guests arrived. We led my mom, Juhi’s mom, Ria and Juhi’s two friends to the centre through the narrow lanes. I went just so that I could see their expressions. The tiny little stairs to the school was also quite a task to them. After they arrived, we introduced them to the kids and then there was the first performance! The kids were brilliant! I felt so proud of them. They went through the whole play by themselves. Gangadhar was also there to see them and took pictures. We also had a professional photographer. The audience shared their experience after the play. All of them thought the play was great and told the kids to be more confident and loud when they went outside. We headed towards the main street. Gayathri teacher led them. By them we got outside with all the kids, most of them were already in a big circle with a decent audience around them. They started with the song. Little Ahmed, as adorable as ever, led the group around as he sang- “dariya ki kasam, mauja ki kasam, ye tana bana badlega…. Tu khud ko badal, tu khud ko badal, tabhi to zamana badlega…”
We definitely attracted a great deal of audience. People came out of their houses to watch as the kids did an absolutely amazing job. They all looked confident. There were no mistakes and they all just went about doing their roles. After the performance, Zohar and I went and spoke to around 2 or 3 men and asked them what they thought of the performance. They all said it was very good! The kids went back inside while Gangadhar was talking to a politically important person of the community. He introduced Zohar, Juhi and me to the man. The man was talking about the necessity of school and how he really wants to send his grandchildren to the municipal school that was built after a lot of effort. However, he did not want to pay any money to send his children to school. Gangadhar had a little bit of an argument with him where he basically questioned how the man could think that way. After that we said goodbye to both moms and went back to the centre. Ria and Juhi’s two friends stayed back. When we went back we all joined the circle and sat down and played the January-February game for the last time. We asked the kids how they felt after the performance and told them that it was amazing. The happiest moment for me throughout this whole program was when Sahil shouted out saying that he was so strong and could do anything now. He wasn’t scared of anything anymore. This is exactly what we had wanted. We had empowered these kids to feel strong and have the attitude that they can achieve absolutely anything. It wasn’t about how good the performance was or how many people saw it. It was about how these kids who were once shy to even say their names out loud could now go out into the street and act out their dreams and lives. I was truly happy and felt like we had achieved something. Then we played music and danced on two songs. After this we decided to give the kids all the presents. First we presented a globe to the class and showed them where US is on the globe and where India is to show how much Zohar didi has travelled! After this we gave out coloring books that the kids fought for cause all the covers were different. When that was settled, we gave Gayathri teacher a present. Zohar was then giving out sweets as I said goodbyes. I was a little choked. I didn’t really want to leave. Especially when Asheep walked up to me and said he was leaving. I asked him to give me a hug. I don’t know if he realized that I might never see him again. Even if I do visit Parivartan (which I definitely will) he will be studying at the municipal school from now on. One by one all the kids started leaving. The older girls Saima, Sana and Sama were hanging around. Talking to us and making sure we say we’re coming back to visit. I spoke to Heena and Ahmed and told them that they should study well and come to school everyday. I told Heena that I would be calling Gayathri teacher to ask her if Heena came to school everyday and then visit only if she did. She agreed and promised to come to school everyday. I gave them all hugs. I really didn’t want to let them go. But they had to go home and so did we. Saima started to cry as she left and I gave her a big hug and promised to visit and never forget them. We then said bye to Gayathri teacher as well and walked out of the narrow lanes. We visited Gangadhar in the office and gave him his present that he refused to accept. We got to say bye to Shaoib and the teacher from the other centre. The three of us then walked out through the main road. Crossing the market with vegetables, fish and meat vendors. Passing by the goats, the scary dogs and walking through the muck because of the rain for the last and final time as the team of powerpuff girls!