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Blossoming of Little Minds (2)

Updated on October 23, 2017

And the story continues . . .

This is the second chapter of the story "Blossoming of little minds". The notion of learning is analyzed here from the perspective of a kindergarten school and its correspondence with the same concept when applied to the larger and all encompassing canvas of life.

And as promised, there are two new nursery rhymes!

If you wish to revisit the first chapter at this point, please click on the following link:

If not, please scroll down to read the second chapter titled "Learning dissected".

Acknowledgement of reader's encouragement

Chapter-2: Learning Dissected

Suhasini Ranganathan and her staff realized that categorization of children was just a convenience that addressed a very narrow, and perhaps, a dispensable requirement. It was just one of those superfluous frills associated with the joy of teaching. A child was a complex (con)fusion of every possible behavioral inclination. When some of these tendencies were present in very small measures relative to some others, they tended to be overwhelmed by those that were more intense, conferring a distinct flavor to the child's traits. They believed that given the right circumstance and stimulus, the presence of the subdued attributes, and their restrained expression, could be glimpsed too.

Though officially the school worked five days a week, the teachers often congregated there on Saturdays for a couple of hours to catch up with work, of which there was never any dearth. This was also the occasion to make a bit of soul searching about their pursuit.

The first such Saturday gathering of the new academic year was convened, three weeks after the school reopened, following the long summer recess. The first two weeks of every academic year had this peculiarity of being tremendously demanding upon the energy and patience of all the school staff during school hours. They could, however, have the pleasure of relaxing immediately after the home-bell, there not being much work involving preparing and correcting study material. It took the children this length of time to get accustomed to the new environment. There were a few who took longer, but that posed no problem, as exception handling was a task at which the teachers were adept.

The teachers exchanged notes about the unusual happenings in their respective classes over cups of hot, strong, and over-sugared tea, made and served by Abida the Aaya, who functioned in many more capacities at the school, besides what her designation entailed. The teachers always insisted on having something salty to munch, while seeming to enjoy the tea, to balance its almost unbearable sweetness. They had long given up protesting, or correcting Abida over the sugar composition of the tea she brewed, because the aaya was the kind of person who believed that what was good for her was good for all human kind. Once her mind was made up, even the Maker didn't dare alter it. What chance did mere teachers have? The reason that she had endured in her job so long was due to the fact that - except for her tea-recipe and a few other odd tolerable eccentricities - she was completely dependable, when it came to the crucial roles that she was assigned to during the course of a working day.

"You know, the boy admitted in LKG last week - Karan is his name, is likely to take a while to settle," said Hema, narrating her experience. "He always keeps crying for his mother. 'Mamma,' 'Mamma,' is all that I heard him say for the first four days. Yesterday, for the first time, he graduated to delivering a whole sentence. When I tried to calm him saying that I was also another mamma - the teacher mamma, he retorted with - 'I want that mamma, the one who is with papa.'"

"That is indeed a novel definition for a mother, I must say!" chimed in Suhasini, and everyone had a hearty laugh, the drudgery of forcing down Abida's tea almost forgotten.

It was from such periodic conclaves over the years that emerged their philosophy about the process of learning, and their own roles in it. Witnessing children, their academic advancement, and emotional development, year after year, it became increasingly apparent that a school was essentially a facilitator and teachers were catalysts, to aid children hone skills that they already possessed, and give direction to such skills towards activities, that would assist the adults-to-be to integrate into the society of the day, and its specific requirements.

"I must tell you about this incident," began Zeenat the UKG teacher. "The boy Venkat, whose father is a motor mechanic, and has his own workshop near the vegetable market, spends his evenings with his father, and has picked up basic mechanical skills himself. I saw him helping around at the workshop, when I had taken my scooter for repair. The day before, the clip on the lunch box of one of the kids broke, and Venkat confidently offered to mend it and did it too. I felt a bit ashamed seeing a child doing it, while I just stood around. He is a year older than others in his class, yet his ability was commendable."

The others agreed with Zeenat's surmise.

The role of the school appeared to be even more precise, when one considered that in the light of the above incident, the general atmosphere already existed outside of school, to intrinsically mould young minds towards society's definite needs. The school was then a place, where a distraction-less environment was created to encourage children to focus upon the activity of whetting their talents, and also to provide an arena for a healthy competition that stimulated such a pursuit. The teacher's role was that of an impartial referee, who explained the rules of the game and judged performances based on merit.

In a kindergarten school obviously, a platform for pursuing all manner of knowledge could not be made available. Such a thought would be meaningless too. It just provided the stage for advancing some of the most basic skills required by all, to confidently face and satisfy the constraints and demands of later life.

"Dr. Sumitra Ghosh poured out her woes on the opening day of school," reported Godavari the other UKG teacher. "Her son Debashish, who is in my class, hardly shows any inclination towards any activity. He is a bit slow-both physically and academically, not anything to be worried about greatly. We have certainly seen children much slower than him. It appears that everyone in his family for the past three generations has been an achiever from a very young age. The poor boy seems to be the odd one out in the family, and unfortunately for him, he is being measured by an inappropriate yardstick. I tried reasoning with the lady, but she is firmly set in her thoughts and conclusions."

After a very brief pause, she added in an undertone "A bit like our Abida."

All heads furtively looked around to make sure that the named aaya was not within earshot. Abida answered to only one master - Suhasini Ranganathan the principal. All others were infidels, and invited an avalanche of fire and brimstone, if ever found to have overstepped their limits.

The teachers had been privy to all manner of parent-offspring combinations - brilliant parents and not so brilliant kids, parents with ordinary IQs with extraordinarily bright children, and also parents with offspring with similar attributes, as their own. The notion of intelligence, and the concept of learning, had been debated upon passionately during many a gathering of this kind, and the rationalization that emerged appeared to explain whatever they had experienced so far, satisfactorily.

The process of learning was a function of two attributes that a child was born with. One was the composition of its thought process that decided, how much of the child's expression was emotional, and how much logical. The other was the strength of its memory capacity, and the efficiency of its storage and recall mechanism. An indeterminable spectrum of combinatorial possibilities existed involving the two attributes, and their two respective components, which accounted for the individuality of each child.

"I am sure the boy will improve with time," opined Zeenat. "If not to his parent's expectations, then at least to a level that is a few notches above his present state. From what I gather, Sumitra Ghosh is giving a lot of her time to the child at home. That effort should show some result."

Time too played a role in this. If the persona of a child could be imagined to be made up of four different components-as defined above, then each of them evolved in different ways, and at different rates of transformation. This explained why children, who showed a particular inclination at one time, exhibited a change in their preferences with the passage of time. The teacher had very little control over this phenomenon, or for that matter, over the composition of a child's combinatorial character.

This manner of fluctuation of traits with time was not confined to children alone. It applied to adults as well, the sole exception being Abida the Aaya. She had not changed an iota - either in appearance, or demeanor - in the last thirty years, except perhaps, a few streaks of grey hair. Suhasini Ranganathan was fairly certain, that this uniformity of character could have been extended back to the moment of birth of this unique personality.

It took a while - a long while in fact, for the teachers to completely accept this philosophy, although it was an outcome of their own experience, and unimpassioned thought. It was a paradigm shift from the notion that a teacher was a role model, one to be unquestioningly followed, unthinkingly respected, and obediently listened to, which is how a teacher was looked upon, during their school going days. They had no quarrel with it, however. They believed too that every era had norms that were appropriate to it. Perhaps, the earlier image of a teacher was apt for the era that was.

Suhasini also had a different view about the notion of learning. To her it was a constant and lifelong process of interacting with the environment, and to revel in wonder upon the concept of living. Every moment brought with it something new, something unknown.

Though she was not the one who would admit to herself or the world that she disliked anyone or anything, she certainly felt uncomfortable in the company of people like Dr. Sumitra Ghosh, who insisted on the two-letter title preceding her name to be mentioned, whenever she was addressed, or others who flaunted a letter-train behind their names to publicize their academic achievements. To Suhasini, that was rather a measure of the person's ego and arrogance, than a gauge of their knowledge. It was her belief that learning and ego were poles apart. Humility was the attribute that she associated with education.

Her non-admission of her apparent aversion for people with certain marked traits had a foundation. Yes, she did strongly feel that to require external props like high-sounding titles, constant praise, or regular salutations, from those around to shore up one's ego was an ailment, as intense and debilitating, as those that were considered to make people "differently-abled." But if the lack of a particular ability is what necessitated extra care to be shown towards an individual, then people in whose company she felt uneasy would fall in the same category, wouldn't they? Could they, then, be shunned?

There were many instances during her long teaching career that bolstered such a belief. The one that she could vividly remember involved two boys from UKG last year-Siva and Prasad.

The first was a slow learner, yet persevering, and had been detained the previous year in the same class. The second was quite intelligent, but easily distractible. The joy that radiated from the face of Siva every time he achieved something - which was very occasional - was an enlivening spectacle to behold, while the tantrums that Prasad threw on failing to accomplish a task was a disheartening display of uncontrollable emotions.

"Any new ideas for playthings to be made?" queried the principal, maneuvering the exchanges towards a more productive arena.

There were many indeed, with each teacher contributing at least a couple of new ideas. Detailed designs were made, manufacturing techniques discussed, and production plans and schedules firmed up, for giving shape to a few of the more exciting contributory ideas. The methodical manner in which the whole operation was conducted would have put many an established industry to shame.

Most teaching aids and many toys for use by the children were made in-house at Balaranya from waste material. Apart from being inexpensive, it sowed the idea of recycling in the nascent minds of children, as one of the fascinated and approving parents had observed.

There were common threads of beliefs that bound the assemblage of Balaranya teachers together. Among them, were a genuine keenness for their work, devoid of any motivation other than the joy derived from doing it, and the strong conviction that simplicity could achieve most of what sophistication could - with a marginal bit of additional effort.

The most conspicuous manifestation of these beliefs was the school's raw-material dump, which was not very different from a garbage dump with regard to its contents. Empty cardboard cartons of every size and shape, plastic containers of a similar variety, old calendars, used hardboard and particleboards . . . the list was pretty long.

The security of this treasure trove was the responsibility of - who else, but - Abida the Aaya. She was over-zealous about every job she was assigned to, and particularly this one. Even a little scrap could go out of it only under the express orders of the principal, and after Abida had verified whether the requisition was genuine.

From this apparent waste were created most of the playthings that the children used; fashioned with care and ingenuity, and each a work of art.

While sophistication did grant leisure, grandeur, and immaculate results, it denied this ambience of togetherness that the teachers enjoyed in their creative work, and the satisfaction of achievement - not to mention thrift. Not that they attached any moral significance to their choice of operation. It was only a trade off that they were comfortable with.

It was almost time to conclude the meeting, and the principal voiced the last question on her unwritten agenda.

"Any new nursery rhymes to add to our ensemble?" she asked.

There was a short pause, as each in the group looked at the other - a gaze that was partly blank indicating that the person was rummaging through layers of memory, while her perceptive part was trying to probe the thoughts of others.

"I have one," said Shyamala, after all the others had shaken their head. She was apparently trying to remember the words resulting in her delayed response.

"Let's hear it," encouraged Suhasini, and Shyamala began to recite:

O' round Sun; O' bright Sun;

Please bless us so.

Light up our lives and hearts,

May darkness go.

The teacher says you are a

Big fiery ball;

Forever you fly the sky

And never fall.

O' round Sun; O' bright Sun;

Please bless us so.

Light up our lives and hearts,

May darkness go.

Every one looks to you

Day after day.

To overcome confusion

And find their way.

O' round Sun; O' bright Sun;

Please bless us so.

Light up our lives and hearts,

May darkness go.

You glow orange and make

The Moon shine white.

Shower your rays and all's

Sure to go right.

O' round Sun; O' bright Sun;

Please bless us so.

Light up our lives and hearts,

May darkness go.

"Bravo!" said Suhasini, as Shyamala concluded.

"Wonderful," said Zeenat, "Do you have a tune for this?"

"No, I haven't thought of one yet. You know I am not very good at that," replied Shyamala.

"Where did you get this from?" enquired Godavari.

Shyamala looked coyly at her feet, and said in a small voice, "I wrote it."

"We never knew we had a poet amongst us!" exclaimed Suhasini. "We expect at least a couple of new rhymes from you every year."

Just then, Zeenat's cell phone played its catchy call tune. She excused herself, answered it, spoke briefly, and said, as she got to her feet, "I have to leave. That was my husband. He is waiting at the gate to take me home. See you all on Monday."

As the others responded to Zeenat's leave-taking, Suhasini too joined them, but it was apparent from her expression, and the rhythmic manner in which she was imperceptibly moving her hand, that her mind was focused elsewhere.

"How would it be, if Shyamala's poem is set to that tune?" she suddenly asked with a smile.

"Which tune?" said three voices in unison.

"The call tune of Zeenat's cell phone. It is a three-beat tune, as is the meter of Shyamala's poetry, and I believe that the tune would be ideal for its theme."

"I think I have that tune, as an option, on my cell too. Why don't we try it immediately? It wouldn't take more than ten minutes," suggested Hema.

The foursome set the rhyme to tune, and even attempted suitable gestures to dramatize it.

What started as a possible ten-minute exercise, ended up being an hour's marathon, and with none of those involved being the wiser to the extent of elapsed time.

It was a sharp clearing of the throat by the aaya, which reminded the enthralled teachers of their whereabouts. Hurried leave-taking wishes followed, and the Saturday gathering finally concluded.

Abida's world was in sharp contrast to that of the teachers - it was linear, uncomplicated, and devoid of either surging enthusiasm, or crippling disappointments. Bliss for her, was sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall with stretched legs, slowly sipping the sugary syrup blended with a spot of tea-savoring drop after ambrosial drop, and there being none to disturb her during this heavenly escapade. She lived for the moment, a day being too long a span to be thought about.

This exalted state of being, was not because of accumulated wisdom over all those years of living, whose number, neither was she herself aware, nor did she have any relatives, who knew about it. It was due to a complete lack of imagination, a trait that was both a boon and a bane, depending upon the career one pursued.

When she was not at the school, she was at the principal's residence, doing odd jobs that required a lot of physical application, but little, or no exercising of the mind. A room in the backyard of Suhasini's house was her dwelling. The motto of Abida's life, as interpreted by the teachers of Balaranya Nursery School, was "The principal's 'Will' be done at school, as it is, in her home."

Non-school days were very quite affairs for Suhasini Ranganathan. Being with Abida around for company could be, as good as living alone. Like having, a few additional limbs with which to accomplish more things than what one could, normally. But it certainly wasn't possible to keep a conversation going, or enter into involved discussion about the nuances of life with supplementary extremities.

It is true that constant association with a subject in both the physical and mental planes, conditions a person so, that there is a marked absorption of characteristics between the two. Three decades of involvement with children, had made Suhasini to explore the means adopted by children to combat world-weariness, and found them to measure up to the requirements of adults too, as an effective approach to seek solace. Abida would often notice her employer sitting on her rocking chair with a baby sized doll - Golly was its name - and humming a nursery rhyme-one of those that are learnt as a child, and are so appealing, that they remain etched in memory for a lifetime, and surface ever so frequently to envelope us in the benign sensation, that all is well with the world.

Come to me, my darling doll,

Come to me, whenever I call.

I love you so. You are my all.

In this big world, you are yet small.

All day long, we'll run and play.

Draw and shape with color and clay.

Mom and Dad will pause and say,

"Are you angels, tell us pray?"

Come to me, my darling doll,

Come to me, whenever I call.

I love you so. You are my all.

In this big world, you are yet small.

If ever you did get hurt,

Or got your clothes all messed with dirt;

I'll wash you and not let you weep

And sing a lullaby to make you sleep.

Come to me, my darling doll,

Come to me, whenever I call.

I love you so. You are my all.

In this big world, you are yet small.

The quietude of her life provided the principal with ample time to ponder over many things, that she couldn't possibly have otherwise. It also gave her the opportunity to indulge to her heart's content in an activity that she loved-reading. Her library with more than five thousand books would have been a cause for envy to many. The reason for it being so well stocked was not hard to spot - she never lent books, even to her best friend, and it was a moot point whether anyone qualified for that title. Only two contenders were eternally on the horizon with never a chance of success - Abida the Aaya and Golly the doll.

There were, however, occasional visitors with whom Suhasini enjoyed long conversations. One such was Dayanidhi Ramadas, her late husband's colleague. The man's drooping eyes, withdrawn face, unkempt white beard, untidy attire, but otherwise tolerable appearance, gave him the aura of a deep thinker, which he was. Well read on many matters, his grasp of worldly wisdom was a good match for Suhasini's own familiarity with a vast array of subjects.

When she reached home that Saturday afternoon, Suhasini found Dayanidhi seated on the steps leading to the front door, waiting for her.

When she reached home that Saturday afternoon, Suhasini found Dayanidhi seated on the steps leading to the front door, waiting for her.

"Thought I could have lunch at your place. Seeing neither you, nor Abida, I decided to wait, knowing that together you could not be anywhere else, but at the school," he said with a smile struggling to find its way to his lips, through the maze of moustache, beard, and reserved manner.

"How could you be so sure? We could have gone shopping together, or perhaps, visiting!" retorted Suhasini.

"There are certain immutable natural laws," declared Dayanidhi, withdrawing back into his cloak of wisdom. "The Sun will never rise from the West, at least during our life times."

"Come in and relax, while I set the table," said Suhasini, unlocking the door, and stepping in.

"Where is Abida? Doesn't she get back with you?" enquired Dayanidhi.

"She has a bit of tidying up to do. She will be here in the next half hour."

All requisites that needed to be moved from the kitchen platform to the dining table to provide for a simple and light repast, found themselves transported to their appropriate positions. The lightness and simplicity of the meal, however, was adequately compensated by the heaviness, complexity, and abstractness of the discussion that accompanied it.

"What do you think learning is, and what is its purpose?" began Suhasini.

Dayanidhi glanced at her quizzically; his jaws paused midway through chewing a mouthful. "Isn't that a question that I should be asking? I thought you were the teacher here."

"Yes, I am, and that is precisely why the question is being put to you. I would like to know the point of view of one, who does not teach."

"Hmm . . . This may take a while. Do you have the time, and the patience, to listen to my arguments?" enquired Dayanidhi.


"Swear by Abida?"

"Yes, of course!"

What started as a joke initially, had become common parlance over the years within Suhasini's little circle of friends and acquaintances. Swearing by Abida was considered being a level higher than swearing by God, because it was felt that she could outsmart even Him, handsomely, in any test involving patience and perseverance.

"Let me answer your question in an unconventional way," said Dayanidhi, clearing his throat. "I will ask you a series of questions, and you provide your answers. From this process will emerge the answer to your first question. Are you ready?"

"Your approach to this issue is, as strange as you are, but I am ready all the same. Shoot," said Suhasini.

"What is the purpose of life?" commenced Dayanidhi.

"Aren't you digressing into philosophy?"

"What is philosophy?"

"Oh! You are impossible."

"Remember, that you swore by Abida. I hear the gate being opened. It should be her. She is here in person to bind you to your oath," said Dayanidhi, sternly.

"All right; what do you want me to answer?"

"My question, what else? What is philosophy?"

Ruing the moment, when the thought of questioning Dayanidhi occurred to her, Suhasini forced herself to think deeply. There followed a few minutes of absolute, suffocating silence, similar to what a congregation is asked to observe in memory of a departed soul.

"Would you define it as the generalization of an explanation for a phenomenon, giving it a universal perspective, rather than looking at it from any particular individual's standpoint?"

"Is that a counter question, or an answer to mine?" jokingly taunted the old man with an impish streak.

"An answer," grumbled the vexed principal, grumpily.

"Relax! It doesn't become of a principal to be so short tempered. Your answer, in fact, is the best that I have heard so far to this question. It is precise, to the point, and without unnecessary frills. I agree with you completely. Now, for the other question. What is the purpose of life?" said Dayanidhi, another rare smile cautiously gracing his unseen mouth.

Flush from the commendation showered by her interlocutor, Suhasini felt more confident attempting her next answer.

"I think that can be answered only within the limits of human imagination. There maybe a purpose beyond it too," said Suhasini, creating a cushioning to fall back upon, if she found herself caught in too rare an environment during her flight into the realms of enquiry.

"Even if you were able to do so, I will not be able to comprehend your portrayal," replied Dayanidhi, chuckling.

There was another pregnant pause. The old man began to show his impatience by soundlessly drumming his cheek with his fingers, when he felt that it had outrun the normal period of gestation of a new thought process.

"The only purpose of life that I can recognize is the endeavor to satisfy a yearning," said Suhasini at length, in a tentative tone, a vague look in her eyes, and her voice trailing away into another sliver of silence.

"You hit the nail right on its head," exclaimed Dayanidhi, joyously, satisfied that the overdue thought delivery was not only uncomplicated, but was also perfectly normal.

Suhasini, however, was not so enthusiastic about it, doubting the legitimacy of both her deliberation, and the elation of the old man.

"But how do you, then philosophize the yearning for mundane realizations with what the holy call 'spiritual awakening,' deeming it to be the ultimate purpose of life?" asked Suhasini, the question being posed to herself, as much as it was directed at Dayanidhi.

"In my opinion, words such as mundane and spiritual, are only conveniences, which can be moved around at will to encompass real and abstract ideas, expedient to the need and understanding of the milieu. A yearning is a yearning-regardless of what it is directed at. An individual's mind goes through the same manner of turmoil, when the process of yearning plays out its sequence of steps-beginning with the identification of the object of yearning to its attainment, the disappointment in the eventuality of a failure included," announced the old man, at his sermonizing best.

"I don't think one can equate matter and spirit," objected the principal.

"We have already proved it to be so!" retorted Dayanidhi. "You know it yourself, unless you have forgotten your physics lessons. If I remember right that subject was one of your electives, when you did your post graduation, wasn't it?"

"Fine, assuming you are right," said Suhasini, not fully convinced with the old man's argument, yet finding no counter within her ken, "We are still pretty far from my initial question and don't seem to be going anywhere in the direction of obtaining an answer for it."

"To the contrary, my lady we are closing in upon it," asserted Dayanidhi, smiling yet again.

Abida who had been watching the two from the kitchen, where she was having her lunch seated on a stool, was quite amused seeing the old man smile so much, a spectacle unimagined. A resonant smile lighted up her austere countenance as well.

Their conversation was abruptly suspended, when the lights went out, and the sky that had been overcast since morning, suddenly opened up. It was an expected turn of events portended by the bright streaks of lightning, and ominous rumbling of thunder, that had been unceasingly enlivening the atmosphere for a while now.

Abida, who had anticipated this possibility, had kept ready a few candles affixed to their stands, and a matchbox. The moment electric power supply failed, she was up and lighting the candles one by one, and carrying a couple of them into the dining room.

"I must say Abida's efficiency is definitely superior and her response time much quicker, than that of an electrical inverter!" exclaimed Dayanidhi, and in a hushed voice added, "But she does look scary walking about in the darkness holding two burning candles. This gloomy situation, and Abida, make a perfect plot for a horror story."

A deafening clap of thunder stopped his words from reaching the aaya's ears, or at least the old man hoped so.

The dialogue resumed amidst the new setting, punctuated by the steady patter of rain, and the swaying shadows caused by the wavering candle flames.

"This is a good example of a yearning being satisfied," began the old man, "We needed to dispel the feeling of despondency that was brought about by the failure of the lights. We satisfied that yearning by lighting candles - or having them lit. This is what we had learnt to do."

"It would mean that life is one long band of beads strung together, each representing a yearning. We jump from one to the next, as we go about living moment after moment," added the principal.

"Exactly! And we learn along the way the techniques involved in the process of affecting satisfaction," chipped in Dayanidhi.

"Doesn't it sound too simple? We seem to have defined life and learning in two utterly simple sentences. Life is a continuous process of yearnings, and the attempt to satisfy them, while learning is the effort to understand and apply techniques to do so. It sounds weird to think that, that is all there is to life," said Suhasini, in voice that reflected both wonder and dismay.

"That is philosophy. Perhaps, it is the reason why some find it forbidding, colorless, and unexciting."

"Are you sure that the two definitions can explain everything that we do in life?"

"Try it out yourself. It can explain the actions of a beggar in the street, a burglar in his act, a scientist at his laboratory, an administrator in his office, a politician in his scheming, a sage at a discourse, a teacher or a student in the class, or a pre-school kid's playful pursuits. Age, gender, religion, or profession, is no exception. It is, as simple, as a child's play."

It still seems to be too minimal a definition," whined Suhasini, shaking her head. "Just think of all that we go through every day at school. Compared to the effort involved in larger enterprises, that is probably nothing. To brush aside eons of development of human civilization in two sentences sounds preposterous. Yet, that is what it is."

"Everything in existence is so," philosophized Dayanidhi. "The universe evolves to infinite dimensions beginning from an infinitesimal point of nothingness. Each of us has evolved to the intricate bulks that we are from a single cell. The root of everything has to be simple. It is the wonder of life that from such elementary ideas spring unimaginably complex conceptions."

The rain appeared to lessen in its intensity.

"I better be going. My wife - as you know - is the worrying kind. She would be ill with anxiety, if I don't reach home early," said the old man, getting up. "May I borrow your umbrella for the day?"

"Sure! Abida, will you please get the umbrella - the black one - and give it to the gentleman?"

As soon as Dayanidhi had stepped out, Abida turned to Suhasini, and asked, "Why was he constantly smiling today, looking at me? I am sure it was some joke at my expense. He always derives great pleasure from it."

"No, Abida! We were discussing about life and learning. He believes-and has me convinced too, that life is a constant process of yearnings, and the attempt to satisfy them, while learning is the effort to understand and apply techniques to do so."

Abida looked at Suhasini directly in the eye.

"What is so new about it? I have known this, since the time I was a little girl. My father always used to say so," she declared in her characteristically unemotional voice, and walked away into the kitchen to attend to her chores, leaving Suhasini standing perplexed and amused.

Chapter 3: Technical Tales

Chapter 4: Close Encounters

Chapter 5: Society and Schooling

Chapter 6: Special Who?


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    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 

      8 years ago from Idaho

      These are so interesting. I love the nursery rhymes, very professionally done. Blessed!

    • KarenTBTEN profile image


      8 years ago

      I especially like the section about setting the poem to the cellphone rhythm. SquidAngel blessings.


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