… at my school, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Vidya Mandir was a deeply moving experience this year. It is the fifteenth anniversary of that conflict, fought on the snow covered, harsh terrains of the mountainous regions of the Kargil, Drass and Batalik sectors of Kashmir. A period of time when we sat at home, glued to our TV sets, following what perhaps later came to be known as the the pioneering “live coverage” of such an event – a war to be precise. It was a time when we watched, hearts in our mouths, and experienced first hand, almost, the despair, the sorrow, and even the hardiest cynic doffed his hat in respect to our soldiers who lived that line of daring to go where the brave fear. A memory that is an unhealed sore, even though we have declared victory, especially if you had lost someone dear, or knew of someone who did.
July 26, 1999, when the conflict was done with, and victory was ours, unfolded even more horrors when the stories of battles and hardships began to pour in. What followed too has lifted our morale and our belief in our country and its defence services! In the next few years, there were greater numbers of young people, both boys and girls, wanting to recruit in the Armed Forces, in whatever capacity they could. Ten years after, on the tenth anniversary, the NDTV took families of the martyrs to spend some time at the spots of conflict; Capt Vikram Batra, PVC (Posthumous)- whose answer to a question put to him just before he died, taking down about five of the enemy “Yeh Dil Mange More”- had a twin brother, Vishal, who was one among those who did go, describes his brother, and his visit thus (click on link to read). This is only ONE story. What about the hundreds of others’ stories – soldier, or Officer, who perhaps were not as widely known?
At school, the planning of the Commemoration began a few weeks ago, and the idea of sharing a soldier’s life, his dreams, the family he leaves behind when he attains martyrdom, were some of the themes considered. Finally the Hindi Department, led by Smt. Vrinda Pradeep, conceptualized a short programme detailing it. The key to the success of reaching out to the young learner group in school lay in some hard work that the chosen students would have to undertake. Learn Drill. The Military Way. As luck would have it, in drops a former student at the right time – a young lady who was an exemplary NCC Cadet while in college too! The Act was coming together. Krishnaja, the young lady afore-mentioned- Senior Under Office Krishnaja K, to be precise was equally enthusiastic about working with the young students! She began her training, with her friend in tow, and within the hour of starting, the body language of the group had visibly and energetically improved! They looked up to her with the kind of respect that we teachers, who were present, envied. She coached them in the different steps and methods of drill, literally drilling posture, movement, leg and hand co-ordination into them! Also helping with the Slow March was Shri Prakash, of the 148 BN, BSF. He spent a couple of days with them too. At the end of about 5 days, they were a fine bunch of soldiers indeed! And dancers, and fighters, and actors! Having observed them, from the moment they were selected, to the moment of their performance, I am proud to have known them and learnt with them. You readers also need to know that most of the boys selected were what a lot of “teachers” would call as the mischievous ones in class. They changed. In a week. At least for the performance. That was a lesson for me – the potential is there, and we need to tap into it, by inspiring them, not degrading and insulting and pushing them down!
A group of students from Class 10 were inspired to present a mime on the same theme.
As the day, Friday, 25th July approached, the skies grew darker, and the rain incessant. This was a problem as the whole programme needed to be done in the Assembly Ground, the quadrangle, which was spacious enough to accommodate the performers and the entire school, of more than 2500 students. Prayers were breathed, fingers crossed, but no one, not a single person spoke of Plan B. There simply wasn’t any. The words of The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho worked that day. The deep deep wish, and prayer was granted, and it stopped raining about half an hour before the programme. The sun came OUT. Shone and blessed the show. And after the last command was done, simply let loose heavy heavy sudden rain. A Miracle. Duh. What else? 🙂
The Sun Shone. And on the ground the Stars of the Day shone in the brilliance of their dedication in their performance. It was one of the most moving performances ever, and the audience, gathered around the quadrangle, were one, in the way they responded, muting their usual over-the-top inappropriate cheering , and going on to give us a lesson on how to watch with absorption of the spirit. Truly a moment to cherish.
As the heavens poured, at the end of the performance, the Guests shifted to the corridor, and a special occasion followed, with the distribution of the letters of Appreciation, sent by the HRD Minister, Smriti Irani to the Children With Special Needs (CWSN), applauding their efforts and reminding them that they should continue to show their committment to their learning. Three students of Class 10 last year, received the letters.
At last the programme was done, but the appreciation for the participants and the teachers who worked behind scenes continued to pour.
Later in the day, I collected pictures, and three videos – one by our school photographer Mr. Bastian, one taken by a student who was instructed to do so, with his own handycam – Neeraj Namboodirippad, of Class 10, and the third taken by our School’s Man Friday, Mr. Kuppuswamy. Armed with this collection, I set out, on Saturday to make it into a movie, using Windows Movie Maker, which refused to work on my system 😀
Plan B (yes, here I did have one!) – to call on my nephew Kiran’s cousin, Abhay Krishnan (also in Class 10 there), who is rather fantastic in photography and makes tasteful videos, all in sync, to help out. So, on Sunday, between about 12 noon and 10.30 at night, we worked, with appropriate meal breaks, and power cut breaks :P, to produce this film, shared herewith. This here is an awesome picture of us hard at work, taken by Kiran 😀
Many many thanks to the Hindi Dept. for their creativity, the Principal and Vice Principal for their support to the teachers and students who were involved in it, and the most of all to each of those thirty odd students who help us to constantly learn and understand – life really is simple, provided you make it so 🙂
I would like to acknowledge at this point, very sincere thanks, to even my nephew and niece Kiran,and his sister, Lakshmi, for their valuable inputs. It was great fun learning and working on the video – my contribution to the actual structuring is the captions mainly – apart from the PJs and the stories and anecdotes on the side while working. But Abhay sat through the whole thing, despite his cold and cough, to enable me to wrap it up asap 🙂 Here’s a huge round of thanks, with applause to you, young man. You do have great talent, one I hope will find more expression and reach a wider audience 🙂 No more pictures are being shared, for the obvious reason that the entire video is here! It runs to about 26 minutes, and well worth each second it contains! And no, I am NOT biased! Please remember it is the effort of a young lad, an old teacher, and a heart full of enthusiasm and deep respect to all those who guard our borders!
For those who simply want the link, here it is:
I know for sure that it will be a great motivation to not just Abhay, but other students with such talents too, to have your words, and comments here at the blog, or at the video link that is going to be shared. It is a heartfelt attempt, amateur maybe, but presented here with our hearts and head held high – in regard for the brave soldiers who have, time and again, shown us the way in not hesitating to go beyond the call of duty.
27 July – 28 July, 2014
Post No. 499 🙂
Links from last year: