A Village Childhood Reminiscence

The story of Sakeer

Memories of a young boy in the village

Lalitha Teacher : A bird which gives egg?

Sakeer               : Beeran Ikka  

Lalitha Teacher : An animal which gives milk?

Sakeer               : Jameela Iththa

Lalitha Teacher : A creature which lives on both land and water?

Sakeer               : Chandran Chetan

Lalitha Teacher : Name a vehicle on road?

Sakeer               : Mohanan Chetan's Tempo

(Ikka = Chetan = Brother, Iththa = Chechi = Sister , words of respect used while referring to elders)

These lines are not from a joke book, but are some extraordinary answers given by seven year old Sakeer in his second standard oral exams. He didn't give these answers for fun but it was what he knew. He has been send to Beeran's shop to buy eggs, Jameela earns a living by selling her cow's milk to the neighbours, he had seen chandran and his friends swimming when he went to the river to bath and wash clothes with his grandmother and Mohanan is a neighbour who is a Tempo driver.

There is no one at home to take care of him. No one in the village had seen his father, different rumours speak different stories. His mother, though she loves him dearly, was never there for him. She is always travelling from place to place, houses to houses, to eliminate jinn or spirit from the possessed. His grandma goes to neighbourhood houses as housemaid.

Lalitha teacher came to Sakeer's house that evening itself and told his poor illiterate grandmother about this and asked her to pay more attention towards his studies. On the way, the teacher told a few colleagues about this and news spread in the village like wild fire. The youth gangs stopped him on the road to tease him by repeating these questions. They called him an idiot but I knew he was not.

I remember all these very clearly. I had just entered high school at that time and his grandma came to our house daily to help my mom and grandma in various chores. After school Sakeer comes to our house to stick around his grandma. Late in the evening they leave with the food and money my mom gave them. His favourite pastime was pulling my kid brother's old bicycle back and forth on our lawn though he didn't know how to ride it. I used to observe him when he was not noticing, otherwise he will keep the bike back and hide behind his grandma. Then one day I saw him on the cycle, right hand on the handle and the left holding on the iron grills of the balcony, trying to propel him forward. It was astonishing to watch how fast he learned to drive. Thus he taught me that you can achieve anything with an effort of will.

Sakeer came to drive the bike for couple more years even if he was too big for it. and then one day, he stopped coming to our house all of a sudden. We came to know from his grandma that he has been sent off to a Yatheemkhana (A shelter for Muslim orphans and kids of poor single mothers which is run by mosques).

Many years have passed. His grandma is not coming to our house anymore. I haven't seen him since a long time. But I hear stories that now he lives in a nearby village with his mother and newly wed wife, an Arabic teacher and he works as a gold smith. The people of our village still mentions the exams chronicle when they meet him on the road, he laughs with them. I only wish he is happy and doing well in his life.

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