When my family moved into our flat in Chennai, I hardly knew other residents in that building. In the evenings, when I go to the ground floor to go for a walk, if I get out of the lift, the number of footwears lying in the lift landing area really irritated me. I observed that they are all children’s shoes and slippers. I wondered who can have so many children!
Out of curiosity I asked my friendly next door neighbor about the footwear found in the ground floor. She told me that Prema teacher lives there and she takes tuitions at home for school children. This irked me even more. How can she use her residence for commercial purpose? I decided to raise this issue during the association meeting.
I also found the children causing nuisance like, littering the corridors, sitting on the cars parked and making noise. Even after living there for 6 months I could not meet her.
I was waiting for a chance to meet her so that I can tell her to shift her tuition classes somewhere else.
One morning, when I came out of the lift, I saw a lady standing in front of the ground floor flat locking the door. I waited for a moment to get a glimpse of her. She turned and threw a friendly smile. I introduced myself. It was a brief meeting as both of us were in a hurry to go out it ended up in exchanging pleasantries.
I was determined to talk to her about the nuisance her tuition class is causing if I meet her again.
That evening my servant came later than her usual time. I was naturally annoyed. As she was sweeping the floor, she said that she got delayed as she had to put her daughter in ground floor ‘Teacher Amma’s tuition class. I was surprised. With her hand to mouth existence, how can she afford to pay for the tuition! I expressed my concern to her.
She said, ‘What to do? My daughter failed in 2 subjects. I am not educated to help her. Her class teacher said, if she doesn’t improve they cannot promote her. Teacher Amma is the only soul who will help people like us. She is like an angel and somehow makes the children study and pass. She takes tuition only to children of poor families.’
‘Is she taking free of charge?’ I tried to hide the sarcasm in my tone.
As she was mopping, she said, ‘No ma, she will tell us to pay whatever is possible. First time we pay 100 or 150 rupees. After that, once in 2 or 3 months we pay whatever is possible. She won’t say anything. Where can we find such people in today’s world ma? My son also passed his 10th because of her only. She is always in my prayers…’ she went on talking.
I was spell bound. What a noble deed she is doing! I never thought of including the less fortunate in sharing knowledge. What a great form of charity!
I decided to follow her footsteps and share my knowledge at least with a few downtrodden children to make a difference in their lives.