He looked at the local newspaper headlines, ‘The Teacher Who Became An Inspiration’. He looked at the picture beside it, captioned Mr. Ramesh Sharma. The mole on his forehead has remained the same. But, his personality has changed a lot, over the years.
His interview as the founder-director of Shikha Apki Manzil, an experimental school for the unpriviledge children in and around the village of Kalyanipur in Rajasthan has created waves. The school currently imparts elementary to intermediate education to over 500 children far and wide, who has no money to pay the fees, but surely has a huge hunger for knowledge. It is for those, who will never be lost in the darkness of illiteracy, just because they are poor. This place is there to enlighten them with the hope of education and instill the zeal to move ahead.
‘Education is for all, Spread it’- Ramesh’s mantra got him fame and name, far and wide. His achievement at an age of 35 is truly an inspirational story for many to follow.
The first few lines of the report read:
“It all started when I was about to give up everything in life. The motivation came when I was completely de-motivated. The confidence came when I was about to stop trying. But, then the inspiration came right through the windows of my classroom.”
But, nobody knew what his real inspiration was. Nobody knew who gave him the strength and wings to his dream. Nobody knew how small things in life can make a big difference.
He smiled and relaxed on the sofa when his mind wandered into the lanes of the past, reminiscing the story of his new beginning from the ashes of his dream.
The students in the classroom, talked and laughed among themselves, while the teacher was explaining the Laws of Gravitation on the black board. With disgust, he asked one of the students to answer. Rama mumbled something, which was not even close to the laws.
The teacher repeated in his mind the same thing what he has been doing for the past four months, “Why am I here? I do not belong here.”
Suddenly, the school bell rang and it was a relief for both the students and the teacher.
He was none other than Ramesh. He hailed from a small village in Rajasthan. Ramesh’s parents had dreamt big for him and had put in all their earnings to send him to the city school so that he can study well and start earning His parents wanted him to be an engineer as per age old belief of higher pay. But, Ramesh always wanted to be a teacher, so he had convinced his parents about the good prospects of teaching and they were happy that their son will start earning soon.
Ramesh wanted to join one of the esteemed, private English-medium schools in the city. IT WAS HIS DREAM!
He slept under the sky, studded with stars and dreamt to shine high one day.
His dreams got a set back, when he got commissioned to a Government school in the rural parts of Rajasthan. He spoke to the officials and asked them why he has been posted to a remote place when his credentials have been really good.
They answered that there is a lack of good teachers in Government schools. And this is a temporary situation and he will be shifted to a city school when there is a vacancy.
Ramesh agreed half-heartedly and accepted this offer as he needed immediate finances for his elder sister’s wedding.
He shifted alone to this new place, but, he was not happy. Every night, he would look at the stars and tell himself that tomorrow will be better.
Months passed. He was starting to give up on is dreams and was ready to accept this life. But, then one day, a small speck of inspiration came right through the window. He was explaining the physics of water pressure on the board and…
Suddenly, he saw a pair of eyes peeping through the window. Ramesh didn’t pay much attention and got back to the drawing on the board. He turned to explain and again caught a pair of eyes looking through the window bars. He told the class to read and sneaked through the back door to check.
He saw a small boy, barely 10 years old, peeping inside and drawing something on a piece of paper.
He got hold of him and the boy got scared, threw the paper and ran away. Ramesh did not bother to chase, but he took the paper and saw something exciting. The boy was drawing the same figure that was on the board. It was only drawing, no words were written.
He kept it in his pocket. Next day, he started his class as usual, but his mind was outside, waiting for the pair of eyes, but nobody was there.
Days passed and nobody peeped in the classroom anymore. Then, suddenly one day, when he was checking test papers inside an empty class, he caught a glimpse of those eyes once again. This time, he made a gesture to the boy to come inside. After a few minutes of contemplation, the little boy came inside. He had torn clothes, not slippers and bruised feet.
Ramesh asked, “What is your name?” No answer. Ramesh pulled out that piece of paper from his pocket and asked, “Is this yours?”
The boy snatched it and ran away. Ramesh decided to follow him this time. He followed him and saw him meeting few more kids around his age. He came from the back and asked, “What are you children doing?”
Startled by the sudden intrusion, the kids got scared and were about to run. Ramesh stopped them and said, “Don’t be afraid. I will not hurt you.”
He sat with them and asked, “Who are you all?”
There was a long silence and the kids just looked at each other. Then, the eldest one spoke in the native language. Ramesh had picked up the local language for ease of communication.
His name was Madhar. What he told Ramesh changed his life forever.
They belonged to a nearby village and a tribe, which was not considered too high in the society. They were very poor and hardly have anything to eat. Their crops have all dried up and they had no water.
Ramesh asked about the little boy and the paper.
Madhar said that his name is Kali. He would sneak into the school and see you teach everyday. He was drawing the mechanism of the water pump so that we all can help our parents and set up a hand pump in our village. We have not other other means to learn as we have money to come to school and nobody will allow us to mix with other children. Kali loves the way you explain things. He cannot understand the words as we are illiterates, but we can make out from the diagrams on the board.
Ramesh asked, “Then why did he not answer when I asked him in the school?”
Madhar said, “Because Kali is dumb, he can hear a little bit so he understands what you say. He has been going to listen to you for the past one month because he is good at drawing. He thinks you are like GOD and your teachings will bring water to the village.”
Ramesh couldn’t hold back the tears. He looked at Kali and saw his inquisitive eyes with a zeal to move forward. He could not believe that what he was doing half-heartedly in this remote village has made him GOD to someone. He thought about these unfortunate children who are eager to learn compared to those who are fortunate to get a chance, but wasting it.
Ramesh again decided to chase a dream, A NEW DREAM! When Kali can dream to try and make a difference in his own capability, then why not him? The city schools, posh lifestyle faded away, Ramesh was determined to create history in his own capability in the world of education.
Along with his job, he started a small school with these kids, and started teaching free of cost. Everyday, they would gather and learn elementary subjects. He bought books, and stationery for them; children like Kali and Madhar were worth every word he taught.
Kali gives him a new hope everytime, to chase his dream. Gradually, news spread and more children from villages started coming.
Today, his school nurtures hundreds of children like Kali with the gift of education, who needs it the most in these remote parts. He started getting Government and private aids for his work.
Rest is the success story of his dream. Today, Mr. Ramesh Sharma is an inspiration, but his inspiration was a pair of little eyes, who had the same dream like his- an educated human shines like a star in the sky of mankind.