A trip down memory lane
(R-L: Sanya, Surya, Aakanksha, Nisha, Anshi, Prinshu)
I was pretty astonished with their revelation of what Prayog has done to their lives and when I told them that at that time (they were all in Class 7th or 8th back then), we did not have many books (see, I have this limitation with collection of a library and time and again, I keep repeating the same mistake) and you all would not get to read in the library – they just gave me a different response – they shared that they read a lot of books from Prayog then. They shared that the writing activities that they did back then is helping them now. They shared that when there were debates back then, it is helping them now. They had so many interactions with people from different spheres of life (my friends from across the country volunteered and visited the library and interacted with children) and they said that each interaction was afresh in their mind and life. They said that ‘exposure visits’ helped them to see the world – their first exposure visit was to Parivartan for seven days.
Aakanksha shared that she got a chance to anchor a session with more than 200 children from DPS Patna and teachers in the exposure visit and that has given her so much confidence in life – this was her first such experience when she was only 12. She wrote and said her mind out during her library time at Prayog. She said that she has become a good decision maker and has her own opinion – her family wanted to opt for a B.Ed course but she chose a B.Tech in Food technology course from Allahabad University.
Sanya is doing B.Ed now and she said that we just enjoyed the openness and discussion and activities where children’s voices were heard – and see so much relates to what her Course work mentions. But I also mentioned that, it all depends on practice – you may go through a Course but practicing it is important. Sanya loves poetry and is an upcoming poetress where she is breaking gender stereotypes. She credits this openness to her library days in Prayog.
Nisha dropped out after Intermediate but wants to pursue Graduation, we want to support in this journey of hers. Anshi, and I remember right from her early childhood, wanted to become a lawyer. So, this year, she appeared for both B.Ed and LLB entrance. She cleared B.Ed entrance but despite push from her family, she did not opt for it. Unfortunately, she could not not clear LLB entrance exam..but she is confident that she will clear it next time! Prinshu has completed her Graduation and pursuing PG.
They just took me to a drive down memory lane and each one of us got so emotional. They had a commitment and what they said was even more intriguing for me – they said, “we all are Prayog and even if the library is not-functional now, we commit to make it functional”.
I know it’s not that easy but I just was so happy listening to this that I did not ask them anything further – may be sometime I will ask them. They also pushed me that children should not be deprived of library and they also shared that they so very proudly said to their friends, relatives and others back then that their village has a library and activities that they were participating in. Back then, we had more than 500 members and children from 12 villages were a part of it with a daily turnover of 70-80 children and they would just not like to return to their homes even late in the evenings. Their parents also trusted us so much that they always allowed them to visit the Prayog library site.
It was that kind of emotion for me – if I say that I got some kind of kick in my brain, it was all because of these children and they being there. The kind of satisfaction and happiness that I had during 2013 – 2016, I have never had that kind in Prayog after that. I have countless stories from those days and sadly I do not have as many stories from the work that I am doing now. This was the genesis and this place has that kind of importance for me and Prayog. I want to re-start this but I am not sure if I have the same energy – I pumped in all my energy, physical and emotional, here back then and I know a replica of the same kind may not be possible. It was so tough to reach the site then – 8 hours drive from Patna because of bad roads and I remember many times while returning back to Patna, I would just cry out of happiness while driving back and I did not know how I used to reach back.
Libraries do create an impact, these small happening with the children are the impact stories for me!