"That's enough now," said Ma. Chhotu moved away from the tiny mirror where he'd been admiring himself. The mirror was too small to fit his entire frame, tiny as it was. He had to be satisfied seeing himself in bits. His face, scrubbed till it shined, smiled back at him, his uniform was crisp and clean, his shoes - so shiny they reflected the sparkle in his eyes. Lovingly he ran his hand over his brand new bag full of books his mother had stayed up late last night covering with newspaper.
Chhotu had wanted to go to school ever since he could remember. He had watched the boys of the big house by the tree with awe and admiration as they'd left each morning. "One can learn everything at school," Ma had told him - exciting things about strange places, far away people, secrets of the sea and land, why the sun set and how it rose unfailingly each morning, why earthquakes happen even the one that took away his baba and all his hopes of ever going to school. He had often wanted to talk to those children. But, "Keep your distance", his mother had cautioned not wanting to upset the lady of the house who had given her work and a small room to stay in.
Then one day the lady spoke to Ma. They talked abut how the Government had said every child had the right to go to school. Chhotu decided he liked the Government people even though Ma never had a kind word to say about them. Ma said they hadn't helped at all when Baba had died in the earthquake. Maybe they were trying to make up by sending him to school, Chhotu thought.
However, to his absolute dismay Ma refused. He had shouted till he was hoarse, cried till his eyes were sore, sobbed till his little body had slumped, tired and frustrated. At night as he lay with his head on Ma's lap sobbing quietly, she had explained, "The permission doesn't help Chhotu. The school will give you admission but they won't allow you without a uniform and books. Where will we find money for that? Besides, you will have to sit with children much younger than you, since you've never gone to school. Will you like that?"
I wouldn't care where I sat as long as I was in school, Chhotu wanted to say. But the desperate look on Ma's face shut him up and he fell asleep still sobbing.
Next morning the lady came again. She said she'd be his 'sponsor'. Chhotu didn't understand much except that a miracle had happened. The lady had heard him crying last night and had decided to help... just like that!! She would get him the books and the uniform and she would help him with his lessons so he could catch up with kids his age. Chhotu had pinched himself till his arm was blue. He thought sponsor people were even better than the government people.
So this was happening. Truly truly happening. He was going to school. The same school that those boys went to.
The morning had finally arrived. Ma was crying as she hugged him. Impatiently he hugged her back and ran out with his bag. Oh he was in a hurry, the world was out there waiting to be discovered. He wanted to run.. No.. fly ... for today he had wings.
Linking to Write Tribe..
for the picture prompt (above). For more amazing stories on the prompt click here
A bit of background, only if you're interested...
In 2010 The Government of India launched the RTE Act ie. the Right to Eduction Act which provides free and compulsory education for all children between the ages of six and fourteen. Government Schools would provide books, uniforms and mid-day meals too. However since there aren't just enough Government Schools, 25% seats in all private schools were also reserved for children under the RTE Act. While admissions here are free kids from underprivileged sectors are unable to meet the other demands of the school. That's where the idea of the story came from. Sarthak Foundation
, a Lucknow based organisation is working towards generating money to help these kids. If you want to help out go here
Or better still look for a Chhotu around you and lend him a hand. It really isn't tough to make a miracle.