A man clad in dothi, turban with an umbrella in hand knocks a door and asks for, “Good morning, My name is Mr Narasimhaswamy, can I see Mr Mani?”
The man at the door step in a simplest attire says, “Good morning sir, I’m Mani. Please come inside, it’s hot out there. How can I help you?”
“I’m teacher and new principal to your son Tamilmani”, says Narasimhaswamy relaxing in an arm chair
“Oh! We are blessed to have you here. I could have come to receive at bus stop if I was aware. My apology”, says Mani offering a tumbler of water
“I wanted to check if you’re are open to join the school as a student. Whenever I inquired about you to your son on various things for example, did you write a letter to your parents? A quick reply was, ‘Sir, they don’t understand?’ I felt as he would grow ‘knowledge’ would apart both.” Says Narasimhaswamy
Mani listens patiently and requests for few hours before he could broad bus with him. He expresses interest and promises to return at the earliest. Principal was surprised to see his eagerness to join the school. Principal enjoys great hospitality at his home but Mani arrives late than promised.
Mani rushes home with apologetic gesture for delay and requests Mr Narasimhaswamy to forgive. Being seated at bus stop to catch the last bus that has got delayed to arrive due to technical reasons. In the wait, Narasimhaswamy opens the talk, “If you don’t mind, may I know, why you agreed to join school?”
Mani replies in a humble tone, “I couldn’t study because of priority and poverty. However, I would like to thank my parents for giving values through their own ways. In order to quest my hunger of learning, granny use to narrate stories, sing songs. My father taught me new ways of cultivating the land. My mother taught me and my newly wed wife on using available resources to manage home. My friends like me who couldn’t go to school worked on brining community together. I created my own world in others.”
Listening closely to Mani’s words Narasimhaswamy asks, where did you go leaving me at your home?
“I had promised to help a family today, my friend wife is in her trimester. She was to be taken to hospital that 20km away from here. It’s first child for them and they are excited about it. Here we try to live as one family. Then I had to convince my wife and promised to take her with me. I inquired if she is interested in joining school. She felt ashamed with a thought of sitting on a bench. Then I had to hand over the remaining work to others. Hence there was delay in my return.
In meanwhile the bus arrived, both hurried to the door.
Narasimhaswamy held Mani by shoulder and said, “I can only provide knowledge to your son but the real experience lies here, in your village. I would like to send your son and urge others to visit your village during vacation. Share your experience that is going to add value, love, humility and honour to his present and future. You don’t need schooling!”
– Santosh Avvannavar, Author of She: Ekla Cholo Re