World Literacy Day with British Council
Frederick Buechner once said, “The magic of words is that they have power to do more than convey meaning; not only do they have the power to make things clear, they make things happen.” Haven’t we witnessed this true magic all the time, all around us??
On this International Literacy Day, Parikrma in association with British Council organised the Parikrma Words and Voices - a celebration of the “written word”!
How often do we understand what runs in a child’s mind, and what better way to explore the same through stories – stories with messages of value? We witnessed an active participation by students from eight schools in Bengaluru – from both government and international schools. Children submitted stories and performed Radio Plays.
Bengaluru’s renowned theatre actor and director, Ashish Sen and his equally talented son, artiste Mikhail Sen, the judges, “got the opportunity to watch and read a few, interesting and highly engaging 1000 word stories / plays contributed by children,” in their words. “The quality of work that I see here is incredible. I am even considering using a few stories for a professional radio play,” exclaims Ashish Sen.
There were all kinds of stories – touching upon all kinds of issues, some serious, and some not so serious, but every piece of “word” was deliciously and tastefully put together.
Here are the winners:
The first place for the Radio Play Award was given to students from Stonehill International School, followed by runners up, Euro International.
We are thrilled that our 7th grade students bagged the first place for the Best Story Award and Stonehill International won the second.
We are happy to share with you the story that took the first prize – written by students from Parikrma Humanity Foundation.
“It is Sunday!” said Nadia to her sister, “so hurry up and let’s go home, and play the game of future”! Swathi and Nadia were twins, they were close and dedicated to whatever they liked. They played together and slept in the same room.
On a Saturday night they both came home a little late, around 8 o’clock. Their mother asked angrily, “Children why are you so late”! The sisters said that they had special classes. The mother nodded and served them dinner. The final examinations were to start from Monday, so the twins ate their dinner quickly and went to bed.
On Sunday morning, both the twins woke up early and rushed into the garden to play football.“Goal!”rejoiced Swathi. They played for two hours and once they had finished playing football, they decided to go over to their friends’ place and play ‘the game of future’.
Now what you may find interesting in this story is the power our two protagonists have over their male friends. These two sisters were fierce, they were feisty, they had a voice! And this voice is what made them different from the rest! Yet they feared one person in the world, their father. Not feared in a respectful way, but feared in a way that they didn’t know how to react around him.
One evening, both sisters went over to their friend’s place and started playing the very interesting ‘game of future’.
“Hey, heard about the new Blue Whale game?” Sara, one of their overenthusiastic friends asked cheerily!
“Wait, what”? Nadia was confused. “Father has asked us not to even mention those words ever! So there’s no way we are having this discussion here”! The school the girls went to had held a special circle time to discuss Blue Whale amongst the students and the teachers, but when the girls had come home to clarify a few questions with their parents, all their doubts were met with a stern “NO TALKING ABOUT THIS”! Hence, the storm of curiosity that was already triggered in these young minds kept burning and building up, but found no place to explode.
“But my mother always makes sure we discuss these issues you know,” said Sara, feeling sad having been deprived of a constructive debate with her friends. So they continued playing “The Game of Future”. Not very long later, the children had absolutely lost track of time and by the time they wanted to get back home, it was already 6 in the evening.
Nadia and Swathi hurried home and extremely worried, rang the doorbell. Their mother opened the door with a very angry face, and said only one thing, “Let your father get back!”
These words were enough to send a chill down Nadia’s spine. She was the more sensitive one amongst the two sisters, and things affected her. Like last month, when the neighbour’s cat escaped during the loud noises of Diwali, Nadia had spent an entire week sulking over the lost cat, probably more than its own owner had. Now the thought of father being disappointed in them again was definitely going to give her a very uncomfortable time.
Soon it was 9 pm, time for father to get back from work. The twins were sick with worry and did not know how to apologize for being late. Nadia needed an escape; father was taking time to return and Nadia HAD to focus on something else. Slowly Sara’s words rang in her ears; flashes from the circle time at school came to her.
“You enter once and you won’t be able to leave”, the teacher had said.
“What’s the big deal in leaving”, though Nadia mockingly, as she switched on her computer. Since we live in 2017 where the concept of privacy and secrecy no longer exists, it was very easy for Nadia to trace the Blue Whale game online. Bit by bit, hesitantly, she started reading the rules. She felt like her childhood hero Alice, as if she was entering Wonderland, just this Wonderland was going to be much darker.
“But I can get out of it any time I want”, thought Nadia, “I’m strong, not weak like these kids”.
We’ll never know what Nadia did for 2 hours with her computer that day but she surely wasn’t very affected by father anymore.
As soon as father entered the house, he was showered with complaints from mother. He was furious. He shouted, “What made you go play and not study for your test tomorrow”! He lost control over himself and hit Nadia in a fit of rage, not noticing the big wooden table behind her. She fell and hit her head against the table and almost immediately started bleeding profusely.
The entire family panicked, Nadia did not. “It’s alright Father, I’m sure you didn’t see the table, I’ll get out of your way now.”. She left the room immediately. Father understood his mistake and started weeping in regret. Mother didn’t know whether to console the father or her child, so she grabbed the phone to call her elder sister who she often took advice from, even though she hadn’t visited home in over 4 years. “
Things were back to normal in the house the next morning, but something inside Nadia had changed. She had become still, indifferent. Teachers were worried about her behaviour, they couldn’t figure out what had happened to the once curious girl. The teachers discussed her in the staff room, but no one thought of telling her parents. They all treated it as a phase of adolescence that would pass.
Four weeks had passed since the incident, Nadia and Swathi were both doing great academically, but Nadia had been skipping football practices of late. Father’s apology didn’t last long, he returned to believing that hitting was the only way to discipline his teenage girls. Mother didn’t dare to go against father.
One evening, when Swathi came back from practice, determined to talk to her sister about her skipping important sessions, she saw something that no sister should ever have to see! Nadia had hung herself! Her head bowed down in shame, the same head that held high against all odds in the past had now given up!
The next few hours were nothing less than a tornado. The sound of ambulance beeping, parents howling, neighbours hushing amongst themselves. Suicide is a scandal in society, especially when not dealt with properly.
Nadia died on her way to the hospital. No one could save her, neither her sister nor her teachers who always “meant to” talk to the parents. The neighbour’s son said he had once seen Nadia attempt a step from the Blue Whale game when he had come to return a bowl, and that one sentence made the newspaper headlines the following morning,
“Another teenager falls prey to Blue Whale, loses life!”
It was never proved if the game really took her life, there was no proof of her ever playing the game as well, but something did go unnoticed- Nadia’s depression. Her constant suppression of her questions, the humiliation from father and inability to settle in with friends. But it was just easy to blame it on an untraceable game and close the case.
We couldn’t save Nadia, but there are millions of others that we can! I want to pass this message to all the parents of students, the teachers and my friends, that PLEASE LISTEN! Pay attention to your child, your student, your friend, because life could get tough, and we all could use a little help getting by.
Hitting is not the solution to all problems, sometimes a small discussion could help! I would also like to tell my friends here that let’s not follow the society blindly and give so much importance to a game that doesn’t even deserve our attention.
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