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The Chief Guest

Anupam has been in teaching for ten years, giving life training along with language training. She believes in the collective consciousness.

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A Call from the Principal

Sprinkling water on each of the flowering plants in the school’s garden he was humming a folk song. A man in his late 30s, shabby hair filled with dust, the whole body soaked in sweat was so much engrossed in his work that he didn’t even notice someone calling his name.

“Ganga Das, Ganga Das…”

He was broken from his meditative state and responded to the call, “Yes sir.”

The Vice Principal was standing in front of him,

"Ganga Das, Principal Ma'am wants to see you, right now"

Ganga Das has been working as the peon of the school for fifteen years now. It was the first time that the Vice Principal had himself come over there to call him. He was sure that it would be really an important issue. So many thoughts crawled up in his mind.

“I have not missed anything today. I have completed all my daily chores. Why is mam calling? Is this Lakshmi? Has she done something wrong?”

He started muttering some prayers as if it will make his thoughts leave his mind.

He followed the vice principal and headed towards the principal's chamber.

Though the principal’s office was just 100m from the garden, it seemed never-ending and he was calculating all the things that he had done to find out where had gone wrong.

Filled with unidentified fear he knocked at the principal’s door and asked,

"Madam, you called me?"

The Fear

"Come inside, Ganga Das," an authoritative voice made him further nervous.

Dr. Sujata, the principal was eagerly waiting for him with a sheet of paper in her hand. The class teacher of Lakshmi was sitting on a chair next to her. She asked him to sit on an empty chair beside the teacher giving the paper to him, "Read this. "

He was almost in tears and now he was sure that he would be asked to leave the school for some mistake that he might have done unknowingly. He kept standing near the chair and mustering up some courage he said, "B..but Ma'am, I cannot read English.”

He continued, “Ma'am please forgive me if I have done anything wrong. Please give me another chance.”

“I have devoted my life to this school since I came to this town. I am forever indebted to you and the school authorities for allowing my daughter to study in this school, free of cost. I don’t have any other way out for me or my daughter. We are dependent on this school for everything." And he broke down almost trembling.

Patiently listening to Ganga Das, the principal stood from her chair, “Don’t go so far. Hold on to your thoughts. We never want to lose such a sincere and honest worker like you. Also, we allowed your daughter because she answered all the questions beyond her age in the admission interview. If you are aware she has been constantly grabbing the award of sincerity and discipline every year. I will read what your daughter, Lakshmi has written in this and will even tell you what she means."

Ganga Das has never ever felt so comforted and tears kept on rolling down his cheeks. Soon Dr. Sujata started reading the content on the paper while translating it into Hindi.

An Essay on Mother's Day

“Mother’s Day

Mother? I am not so lucky enough to have a mother but got the glimpse of the mother in my father who took me to this town when I was just a few months old and has been looking after me as both a mother and a father.

I belong to a small village in Rajasthan where girls are still considered as a burden. Moreover, apart from being a girl I had one more tag who had ‘eaten up her mother’ as my mother passed away while giving birth to me.

My grandparents wanted to poison me and remarry my father in hope of a grandson.

One night he left his village house, his farm, his cattle, all his wealth and property along with a few days’ girl in his hand. He coined a name ‘Lakshmi’ and since then considers me his whole world.

He got a job in this school as a peon with a request that he would carry me to the school without getting any affect in the job he was assigned. At the same time, he was looking after all the chores of the school having me at his back. I grew up in this school learned from everyone passing by. And finally, I got admission in the school as our principal madam noticed me reciting long Sanskrit Stotras in the school garden. I did give the test both written and oral and surprised everyone with my responses but what got me the admission here was the trust shown by our principal madam. She assured that she would be bearing the expenses of my uniform and books if I was selected in the admission procedure with the scholarship.

I am entering into teenage now and I can see the lines of anxiety on my father. He doesn’t show it to me offering me every thing that I demand with my childishness. Now I see how he offers everything on his platter to me saying that he doesn’t like it or he already had it. He is the one who has given me this life, comfort, understanding and all the luxuries of being in an international school.

I know why he has not attended any of the PTMs yet or taken my report cards, he doesn’t want to humiliate me in front of my friends. But he needs to understand that I respect him a lot and so does the school for his honesty and dedication.

Mothers are known for their care, concern and selfless love. My father possesses them all. For me he is an epitome of compassion and I consider him as the best mother figure on earth.

On this Mother’s Day I wish my father to know that he has not only nurtured the school garden for fifteen years but also me who has turned fifteen today. He didn’t let my class mates know that he is my father but I want to shout and tell everyone that he is my father. I am proud of my father who is the best father or mother anyone could have.

Note: Dear teacher, this question is worth 5 marks and I am staking this to show my gratitude to my father and our beloved principal Sujata mam. I want this to be read for my father and let him know what he means to me. He doesn’t need to be ashamed of being my father.

The Invitation of the Chief Guest

After completing the reading Dr. Sujata was wiping her eyes. There was a deafening silence in the room.

Ganga Das was speechless and spellbound.

He took the paper from the principal's hands and held it close to his heart and sobbed.

Dr Sujata offered him the chair to sit and gave him a glass of water. Ganga Das was humbled. He was sitting in front of the principal as a parent for the first time.

The Principal asked the class teacher to hand him the invitation card and addressed Ganga Das,

"Ganga Das, your daughter is given 5/5 marks for this essay. This is the best essay ever written about Mother's Day in the history of this school. We are having the Mother's Day gala event tomorrow and the entire School Management has decided to invite you as the Chief Guest for the event.

This is to honour all the love and sacrifice a man can do to raise his children. To show love and compassion you do not have to be a woman to be the perfect parent.

And most importantly this is to acknowledge the strong belief of your daughter in you, to make her feel proud. The whole school is proud of such a bright student. I would request you to accept the invitation as one of the best parents of our school children to be the chief guest tomorrow.

You are a True Gardner, who is not only looking after the gardens but also nurturing the most precious flower of your life in such a beautiful way."

Ganga Das, had nothing to say. He was a proud father, proud parent, and proud gardener today. He was no more worried about being a peon and embarrassing his daughter with that.

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© 2022 Anupam Mitu

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