Life at School
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How Pandemic changed the Reality for Children? Corona Diaries from School


Its been over three weeks since our small school opened. Two years later; Seeing things coming close to a world more open, towards unafraid times again is nothing less than grace from nature.


A whole generation has changed the way it socializes and even less. We now have more close friends and acquaintances online than any generation ever had. Life, material living has changed for the world, yet we are trying to get back to what felt natural. But the world of kids that saw this Pandemic in their youngest, most vulnerable years has transformed the future that is coming for them.

Almost every kid I met recently was a lion at home but a goat amongst other goats. Pandemic took their freedom. And if not their bodies, their souls know the jail they were in. The fear that oozed from each human silently, projected on a world stage, afraid parents for their children, for themselves, for their family’s future together.

Nations and many a leaders were not ready for this and some could not cope up with this unseen, never heard, deadly, strange and vulnerable threat. It became the reason for the strongest of leaders to be voted out of power; one after other leading economies started defaulting, debts are rising, leading to conflicts and wars. It came as a test of grit and will for any country; many failed, some prevailed.

Also Read : The Sins of America

But during these times when kids were forcefully jailed as they learnt complex words like coronavirus, sanitising, vaccines- Education of other kind rose. Arose as if new coffins being offered for free; the internet. Children were slowly allowed to binge on phones. Images, creatures, the world moved as they sat eating at one place for hours, days, months, two years. Phones literally snatched their toys away.

A mother with her 5 year old child entered our school premises last week, and the moment they entered, the child almost wildly started making sounds in excitement. So much so that I and couple of teachers from other rooms came out to see if everything was fine.

There were many toys, 5 kinds of Tricycles and a small balloon ball court. He moved around joyously, testing each one after other making wild sounds in adventure. Mother left him and asked about the Admission procedure, when I started asking him about the child first.

He is 5+, said the mother.
I asked her if he has learnt anything at home as there is a short mandatory test. Can he write?
Mother hesitated, umm, No.

Can he read?
Well, he is trying to speak you know. Actually he used to speak but because you know he couldn’t find any one of his age for last 2-3 years, he is just shy.

Silence. I kept listening.

She continued, he used to speak you know, but he does not anymore!

I was intrigued! Taken by surprise for two reasons, first our school is in an underprivileged locality and it is almost impossible to have a parent who comes with a near fluent English. And secondly, I was kind of shocked to learn of somebody who could speak but slowly stopped speaking at all.

Also Read: This little school and how it all started?

How is it possible? I asked child’s name, and started calling him Pradeep. But Pradeep was in his own world. I do not think he was even hearing his name. He kept playing, making long, arduous sounds. I tried to come in front of him, got a ball, threw it softly at him to get his attention but his eyes never rested on mine neither it followed the ball.

Mother spoke, it all happened during the Pandemic, and yes, I feel there is some carelessness on our part. Before Covid, he used to respond and play with us, tried to talk to other kids like any kid does, but to engage him as we both worked from home, we gave him a phone. And he used it over too much. He watched anything and everything from day to night and we couldn’t really stop him. First it took away his attention span. He then slowly started to not look at us anymore and soon stopped talking.

Other two teachers were still there, standing perfectly on either side of BR Ambedkar’s poster under a clock, their mouth open out of shock may be; they both were mum’s themselves.

Pradeep! Pradeep! Come here Beta!

She continued, we took her to the doctor first and then to a Psychiatrist. He said, everything is fine with him, there is no problem whatsoever. He just needs sometime. Well, mam but it doesn’t look like he is even listening, i said. No, no, He is fine, mother said again, and even the doctor said he will start speaking as soon as he will find some company. Its just that over use of phone has pushed him to create his own world. I heard about your school from someone and that you have good arts classes for children and I thought it would be great if he can join.

I kept looking at the kid. Somewhere, I was aghast. It touched me deeply seeing a mother, her hope towards her child. But Pradeep showed no sign of attention or even affection towards other kids who were playing around. During this whole visit he did not look at anyone, not even at the person who must have taken his name a couple of dozen times. It was saddening and somewhere I still wanted to give it a try. But our past experience told me not to. We don’t have right kind of resources for a kid like Pradeep. Because for him we will need a lot more than merely teachers.

She kept quiet this time, all along looking at me, and finally asked, what can I do? My mind ran to solutions i wouldn’t have known, but I felt and said, to start with, please get him a little pet.  

Pradeep with his Mother

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Thank you.

If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste


: ँ :

I will take this opportunity to introduce you to About me and importantly;

What have i learnt in a decade of travels from several years on the roadbefore you coarse on youown Road to Nara.


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If you wish to contribute to my travels, or towards My School you can please do so here

And when you have something to share, or feel like saying a hello, please write to me at nara@road-to-nara.com

To visit other long-term photographic works, you can visit here.


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This entry was posted in: Life at School

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Hi, I am Narayan Kaudinya. And i welcome you on this journey, the Road to Nara ! I am an Ethnographer and a practicing Indologist. I did my masters in History and further learnt Sanskrit, Yoga and Nerve-therapy. At 24, pushing most academic sounding, office sitting works away, i felt compelled to know and understand the world and my country, Bharat/India. I travelled, and as it happened i took up teaching in Kashmir and further up in the remote villages of Baltistan in the foothills of Karakoram Ranges. For around three years and many states later there came a time when i felt that it was only while teaching i learnt how to laugh, to see, feel, breathe, love and cry -with children, and mostly resource-less parents in the harshest-freezing border conditions. I write, and work as a documentary photographer and Filmmaker, with numerous published, exhibited and some awarded stories. In my travels and life i have let nature lead me, the divine mother, and as a Yogin, my resolve here is to share my experiences and thoughts as honestly, and through them to blossom in everyone the power and possibility in pursuing your breath, that you seek your true nature with courage and curiosity. Here, on this road i will share my spirit, my love for nature, the elements of life that are us. And in doing so, i'll be happy to see you along.

81 Comments

  1. It will be interesting to learn how this student progresses. However, I feel there is another underlining issue here that will only become clear with time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Judging from this picture and others I have seen before, the school is beautifully equipped and designed. You have, Narayan also created a garden on the roof, and the plants connect the children to nature. As Swami Vivekananda is a patron, his influence and great wisdom will lead this extraordinarilly special school and the children to a successful future. India needs a new generation of highly educated people and the children of this school are blessed by the opportunity their school provides.
    I think, that it is only a matter of time for the authorities to award some recognition to your parents, you, and the school for such sterling work among the community.

    May I leave the last word to Swami Vivekananda, my own guru:

    “The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature.
    Have faith in yourselves.”
    and
    “In a conflict between the heart and the brain, follow your heart.”

    Joanna x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Nature, there is no doubt that this small school of yours is the best the kids will get. They have the right patrons one can find in early years of their life. Yet this new problem which i am confronting with new generation of kids coming is rather complex and i do not have any answers for it yet.

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    • And no my dear, its a thankless job with almost no awards or appreciation apart from your love and understanding.

      Thank you so much again dear Joanna,
      Narayan x

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      • I think that the greatest award will be to see children happy and later in life successful.
        I would love to teach in such a school because the children are responsive and realize that they have an opportunity of a lifetime. You are also having the satisfaction of doing important work that apart from your wonderful writing, will be your legacy.
        Writing about your school should be part of your tales from India because it shows your beloved country in such an illuminating light. We often see on the news about the difficult problems in India, that is why the tales from your school would warm not only my heart but other readers too,

        Joanna x

        J

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        • I apologize for adding more to my comment above but because the well-being of children and animals is of great importance, I will say what I know for sure. You have mentioned that there are some problems, and this is what I know:

          1) Working with nature by planting and nurturing the seedlings teaches the responsibility and brings happiness at seeing the results. I don’t know if the school has some space to put large crates filled with soil to plant various things in. If not, then hanging pockets of pots, plastic buckets filled with compost and fixed securely on the surrounding school wall or fences would create the space. Watering during breaks is necessary.

          2)Music is very important, and playing instruments would help because if there is something to be changed in the world it can happen through music.
          Music has magic that has an impact on humans but also on animals.

          3) If possible, the children should be visiting close by places where there are animals.
          They could help to groom the horses, cows, or donkeys and this will be most beneficial and help bond with animals. It will teach compassion too.

          Thank you for your patience.

          Joanna x

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          • You are most considerate dearest Joanna, and your each suggestion is taken and passed on to mother; as like you she enjoys gardening and will take every care to make any place alive with plants and flowers. But School is very much out of space. Sunlight is only available on the roof and no where else. Yes, i myself have created some space, also pots out of never used buckets and bottles.

            Music, yes; i am looking forward to better this aspect. but as far as visiting places are concerned, it might not be easy as first, there are no animal shelters nearby; horses, elephants are out of question and zoo is pretty far and expensive for us to take each one out. But with time and whenever luck allows, you know i will make this thing happen.

            Thank you so much for the help and being there. You will always be the one to know all new things at school.

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        • How i would request the school to take me as a student, in the class you will teach.
          Yes Dearest Joanna, we really have worked hard and cautiously to wake up each child, right from the prayers; as you know the school motto is taken right from Swamiji’s mindset.

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        • You are absolutely right Joanna. And i must try harder to know children and their family’s story better. Before when i didn’t have a blog i never thought where to share or
          how important this could be, but your mentioning it and my feeling it; documenting this might be more important from here onwards for myself and probably someone, somewhere, anywhere.

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          • Thank you, Dearest Narayan, for your understanding and for planning to write about your school as part of the book. I am looking forward to reading some more soon. I just wonder how far is the school from the main road and traffic; could there be a pet living at the school?

            Joanna x
            PS. I would love to teach in your school!

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            • Dearest Joanna, even though school is not far from the main road but because it is located in a neighbourhood where majority of people are small service providers like vegetable sellers, carpenters, Ironsmiths etc. And i am afraid it isn’t a pet friendly place even though year after year a cat and other cats keep coming and leaving, some even gave birth to kittens. who for a short period kept moving in and around school.
              But someday we plan to have some pets when space and time will be right, better.

              Thank you dearest, School already is indebted to you for your contribution to many a stories which otherwise can never be known to humankind and children of this generation.

              Like

  3. Pray the cute child gets his childhood back, playing, jumping, laughing and yes talking carefreely with his new friends at the school. We adults owe this much to the innocent soul.🙏

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The pandemic has been hard on everyone, but especially the kids. If there were issues before, the pandemic has amplified them. It will take time and understanding for sure. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: How Pandemic changed the Reality for Children? Corona Diaries from School — ROAD TO NARA | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

  6. What we have had is the biggest ever world wide social experiment, sadly proving that children need socialising experiences. The first few years of a child’s life are the most important and the youngest in all societies have suffered most . An only child in a small home will have been especially lonely and restricted.

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    • Janet, yes children; we once ourselves were and for us whole earth was a playground. We dont even know how badly children have been affected around the world; yes one child alone at home and with all the restrictions is a sad sad space.

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  7. Ohh, this hits deep. I’m not so much removed from this child. I have a partner but he is not home much and even when he is, we are each on own computer unless we eat or sleep. I have a dog and with him I speak with noises.

    After I wrote the above, I got up and hugged him (the man, not the dog) and we chatted a bit, about Putin, but you know, at least it’s a chat. Thank you for this.

    What a great idea, the advice to get a pet for the boy. How many such children there must be.

    Like

    • I am smiling too. We have so much to owe to what we decide reading or as we know now; the post or a story decides us.

      You are so warm and kind. Love to the dog and your life Manja.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Numerous children, and we are not even talking about it. but probably the world is and will be on a boil for a few years to come. Putin just started it.

      Thank you Manja, we will stay in touch.
      Narayan x

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is so sad. My Grandson who is 7 was impacted by the Pandemic and school closures. But for him it means he is behind in his writing ability and is getting help with that. He can read and his parents have him involved in a soccer club last summer and over this winter he has been doing parcours ( which he loves) and so he has been involved with other kids. There is a whole generation of kids who have been affected by the pandemic. It will take time to know how it will affect them long term. Your little fellow Pradeep seems to be very affected and not in a positive way.I hope you can give us some updates about him

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    • Anne, this was indeed saddening. Atleast your grandson have quiet a few things to do, get involved with. Parcour is nice, athletic sport. But i am afraid Pradeep was very low on understanding and athleticism. I can only pray how it pans out in the time to come for him.

      Yes, however and if i ever get to know of him i will share it here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My Grandson has the advantage of living in a developed country with two parents who, although they both have full time careers, make it a priority to get involved with my Grandson and how he is doing. I think he will recover from being behind in his writing and will catch up. I hope Pradeep an open up a bit and start to communicate better. When my Grandson is nervous or anxious he tells him Mum and Dad that is how he feels. I think this is excellent. My daughter said she and her husband say they are nervous or anxious about some things that come up in their work so the youngster knows it is ok to feel like this and so say it out loud!😊

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        • That is true dear Anne. There is quite a difference between India and the west. Education and the quality of the facilities given.

          Your grandson looks like he is under able guidance and most considerate parents. I hope he becomes a responsible adult.

          Thank you Anne.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anne for your consideration. I can feel how much attached and in love you are with your family and children. My good wishes to all from here.

      Narayan x

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Narayan, I think your suggestion to Pradeep’s mother is inspired! Pets can work miracles, and I hope a pet helps Pradeep. The classroom in the photo looks colorful and cheery. All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, that is heart breaking. The children and younger generations I think were the most affected by our isolation the past two years. 😢 I sure hope he finds the help he needs.

    Like

    • It was fun going through your site David. Thank you so much for writing inspiring a part of it as i left playing Cricket due to injury but keep myself around it, sometimes by teaching it to kids, or more by just watching, other than Writing and Filming.

      Like

    • Yes, it has been undoubtedly hard on kids and even as of now it is underreporeted. We will not know until later how much it has affected a whole generation coming.

      Like

  11. How very disturbing. I am sure there must be many more like him. Your idea of a pet was inspired, I think. Children often react very well with animals. I hope it will be so for this poor child.

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  12. This is a truly heartbreaking story on so many levels, Narayan. One mother, one family, one teacher, one school, and one community cannot face the challenges of broken circles of care alone. The question I have often pondered is how to bring people together to reweave healthy connections with each other and the world they share. I have seen connections blossom, but sustaining them is a never-ending task with too few who are able or willing to shoulder the work it takes to counter oppressive forces that can so easily divide people.

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    • Beautifully written by you Carol. Thank you so much for letting it out so well. Broken circles are so so hard almost impossuble to mend. And as you write it i am actually planning to start a monthly travel plan for people older than 60 to take them to a river bank once a month, just for collecting sharing memories for couple of days. I am still trying to throw this idea around to know how people feel about it but I guess it could be a start for bigger things to culminate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Weaving healthier relations is not a one man’s task Carol, it has to be loved and lived together and only then it can sail and it can be enjoyable. Thank you for coming and sharing your thoughts here. Loved it.

        Narayan x

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Michael Graeme says

    A very sad story, Narayan. This is one of the effects of the pandemic we hear little about. At such a tender age, socialising with other children is so important . I do hope the little chap picks up, and begins to enjoy the world again.

    Like

    • Quite unaware of myself Michael, i think it is the saddest story i lived in moments, more so because i was directly involved and was also a decision maker. It is strange but sometimes i get a chilly feeling, empty lanes and weird environment from the story i once read from your hand, i think you were walking around town describing it like the end of the western world types.

      I hope his mother gets him a friend in a dog. Thank you Michael. Always means a lot.

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  14. Oh wow. This is heartbreaking. I think your idea of a pet is brilliant. I hope it helps. Please keep us updated on his progress. 🙏
    Alison

    Like

    • Yes Alison, i hope his mother gets him a friend like that. Its heartening when you have a school and still you cannot have him. It was sad.

      Thank you for writing Ali
      Narayan x

      Liked by 1 person

  15. KK says

    This pandemic has snatched the very childhood from our children. On-screen time has considerably increased for them. There may be so many children like Pradeep. Thank you Narayan ji for highlighting this vital issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes Kaushal Ji, and this is another Pandemic in the making which we will only know in the times coming.

      Thank you for your considerate words Kaushal Ji. Thank you.

      Narayan x

      Liked by 2 people

  16. The best to Pradeep, and also a heartfelt sense of gratitude for you and people/teachers like you around the world that keeps the world moving for so many people. One of your opening sentences said so much: “Seeing things coming close to a world more open, towards unafraid times again is nothing less than grace from nature.” For children, to proceed with freedom, curiosity, and continual questioning is such an important process… and the chaos of the past few years hindered this so much. Wishing you well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dearest Dalo, thank you for writing, taking out sometime to share this message and feelings on a better world that we all yearn.

      But as you know, things have only started to take shape for the worse and it will only snowball into wars which are waiting to be fought.

      I see and know from your posts on Ukraine, children again are relocating their childhood. and i hope we, the adults become more equipped to see them through.

      Love and wishes dear Dalo.
      Narayan x

      Like

  17. Beautifully written I think this type of things not only happen with Pradeep but some others students also. Well shared thanks 😊👍👍

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  18. The way children were treated – and are still being treated – here in the United States amounts to child abuse. I fear greatly for this generation of children. It will take a lot to overcome the negative effects of government restrictions.

    Like

  19. Could Pradeep have some sort of autism? I understand it is not always easily detected.
    Congrats on reopening the school.
    Best wishes to you and Pradeep and his schoolmates.

    Like

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