Lockdown Voices is grateful to Thinkerminds for sharing write-ups from students of Kolkata.
A Google friend
Our first post is from Varshana Masta of Grade X, Delhi Public School, Ruby Park
It’s funny how sometimes, a stranger becomes a very important person in your life. That is Aditi, a complete stranger whom I would never have met if not through Samta. Aditi became my mentee for 6 months during the pandemic. It was surely a roller coaster ride.
Now, what is Samta? This is a fellowship programme offered by Thinkerminds to provide a platform to young high schoolers to evolve into responsible citizens and impactful change-makers. How does this programme work? Each fellow mentors one child from Gyandeepak, an NGO in Kolkata for a complete academic session. The Gyandeepak children come from a low income background. Due to the pandemic our sessions were online.
The fellowship programme started in August 2020, and I was chosen for this programme, along with 15 other students from different schools across Kolkata. When I received my acceptance email, I was contented with making a difference to my future mentee’s life. But the amusing fact is that I never in my wildest dreams thought this programme and constant talking to Aditi would in turn bring a change in my life.
We had our first call on the 14th August, and it was an introductory call, where we obviously introduced ourselves. It was a fun call, since we shared a couple of common interests, like cooking and puzzle solving. She was also into drawing and arts and I was clearly not on grounds with her for this. On the contrary, she never really liked reading novels which was a little bummer for me.
I was 15 when I got to know Aditi, a very sweet 11 years old. She called me her Google friend so that she could be more frank with me. And later on, I was her Varshana Didi. We had 2 calls per week. The calls were entertaining and I tried my level best to make them interactive. My role was to teach her things, which she wouldn’t learn in schools, and will probably need later in her life. When Michael Altshuler said about time flying too fast, he sure wasn’t lying. Time flew a little too fast for us. From August, I have no idea how we ended up in January. Those 6 months, I ended up teaching her leadership qualities, importance of meditation, anagramming (mind you, she is good at it and I am not kidding), people who made an impact on the world (like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Malala Yousafzai), puzzles and so on.
Her growth was a little slow, but I am not complaining, as the Aditi I saw, after 3 months was blooming. There was no one to stop her. Her confidence boosted in a way I can’t explain. She wrote paragraphs at the beginning filled with mistakes. But the ones she wrote after 2-3 months, finding a mistake was a huge task. I was truly astonished yet proud. Recently, we just held a zoom session on leadership qualities with the rest of her friends from Gyandeepak and it was such a hit!
Most important thing I learnt in the past 6 months is to be grateful for things, and be happy with what you have. Sometimes, I was in a mood of not doing the call, but Aditi would ring me non-stop, and ensure I take the session. Another learning was to be consistent and hardworking in whatever one is doing. Be it playing a mentor to a 11 year old girl or simply doing that one maths sum until you get it right. She also made me realise to give attention to every thing, because if you don’t, you will not make the most of that particular opportunity.
I thought of things which would help Aditi externally, and in turn I learnt things which helped me grow internally. The saddest part is we still haven’t met in person. Hoping to meet her, once COVID-19 is over.
Our second post is a poem penned by Disha Nevatia, a Grade X student of Modern High School
Too long, too slow,
The days of restless thoughts.
The uncertainty and the dwindling hope,
These days were cruel indeed.
For the comfort of the home had passed.
And the coffee had turned too bitter.
The books were read and the paintings were complete.
What was left to do but frown.
What once was a growing bud,
Is nothing but a withering flower now.
The tea is cold and the shops are closed
I felt like a caged bird.
The lock was secured.
The windows shunned.
And I didn’t believe the lies of freedom any longer
But, Oh! I wish I did.
Hope was a dwindling flame,
And the room was already dark.
The small glimmering light was swaying haplessly,
The candle was too short.
The world around me burned however,
And the world around me crumbled.
So inside my little home,
I saw my hope imitate the world
But what was life without hope
And what was life with sadness
A tangled mess of no aim?
A tangled mess of no growth?
Pain ends, as does cruel times.
The poems were complete.
But there was so much more to write,
And so many adventures to take on.
In an endless maze of uncertainty,
I found joy in the corridors.
I found joy in the walls that captured me,
And I found hope in knowing that I wasn’t alone.
The paintings might be complete,
But the walls were still blank.
So in the walls of my cage
I made art that set me free.
And I made art that set others free,
And other people’s art helped me.
Within that growing community of joy
I knew that I would be good enough to tell my story.
Cover image: Team LV
Story images: Author
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