Teaching in Digantar has always been a pleasure and a learning experience in itself. While working with the secondary and senior secondary girls, one thing that I often feel is, these children, especially in this age and this environment, are so receptive, so curious, bursting to form an opinion, aching to know more and most importantly, wanting to explore the world.
When we talk about the world, here the first hint of differentiation takes place. Being in the sub urban area, the girls here often see a conflicting image on the world that is around them, shown in the TV and viewed in movies and world that they are in.
Often after the classes or after finishing a particular chunk in the class and before starting a new chapter, we take a break and simply talk about various things.
Working with them closely, each day for four months has given me so much to think about, so much to learn and so much to understand.
Few instances that have left a mark on my memory are also the instances that have forced me to rethink about my idea regarding these girl’s understanding and maturity.
I have often noticed that if there is a question that needs to be contemplated and discussed and is asked to me, the answer comes from these girls and not from me. I see a very interesting phenomenon where the girls present different opinions, trying to rationalize things and then coming up with a logically sound argument/statement or stand.
One of the main things that run in the minds of these girls is, their life post marriage. They often talk to me during lunch breaks or during classes regarding how in spite of being married I don’t wear bangles or sindoor or other signs of being a married female, how I am “allowed” to wear western clothes even with my in laws and how no one stops or questions my decisions.
Kherunisha is one of the first girls to open up to me and talk to me about why I don’t wear the symbols associated with being married. She then told me with confidence that she intends to wear nothing that indicates she is a married girl once she goes to live with her husband’s family. She said these things in a very bold manner and with confidence and a hint of mischief added to it. But, almost the instance she uttered her mother in law is not very adjusting and not so liberal, the resolve didn’t sound that strong.
Over a period of time, she kept talking to me regarding how she wishes to be a dancer some day and how when she told her wish to her husband, who in return asked her to continue her dance only in front of him and not others. This realization that their dreams might never get fulfilled is a very rude reminder to these girls that life for them would not be as they plan in to be but, would be as others want it to be.
When such conversations and take place, I often try and tell them that the independence to make decisions, to take a stand can come only when one stands on his/her own feet and that would come only with education. They agree with me here and often say that no matter what, they would try to complete their education so that someday, they too can stand on their own feet.
Once during the festive season of Ramadan, in the middle of a chapter one of the girls asked me if I ate meat. When I said yes and tried to continue with the chapter, pop came another question: what all meats I consume. Being aware of the fact that the majority of the population here is muslim, I replied in a vague manner and said almost everything. By this time, knowing the temperament and the curiosity levels of the girls, I was sure this topic is not yet over and I received another direct question: do you eat pork? I replied in affirmative and then waited for the reactions. Here, to my surprise, the moment a few girls expressed their disgust, one of the girls strongly argued stating she has read that pork that is consumed comes from dairy bred cattle and is just like the meat that they themselves consume in terms of care and cleanliness. The other girls slowly thought about it and the agreed and even said the world is a huge place and everyone is not the same and all staple foods or food in general are not the same.
This incident showed me that the girls here are much more mature and much more aware and much more tolerant that the world around us. They had the maturity to contemplate, think, reason and reach a conclusion. This is something that even the adults tend to lack and something that only comes as a result of a sound and open mind.
There are a number of instances when they joked with me, asked about my life, about my married life, voiced their disapproval of a number of things that are present in the world and discussed their homes, their parents, their dreams with me.
I see a spark in most of the girls here. The spark is often accompanied by anger. Anger at the possibilities and problems that might arise in their path. But, I believe as long as that spark is present, the girls can do wonders. They know what is right and what is wrong, they are willing to understand what they do not know and change if they feel something they believe in is not right. I, as a person, constantly make sure that we have dialogues, discussions on various things and issues and try and introduce them to new possibilities or ideas as often as I can. 
It’s important to have a dream. It’s important to be able to dream. And i take it upon me to make them believe that nothing is impossible.