A few days ago, several people were frequenting my work place and there was a burst of activities. Some forest officials were marking the teak trees for felling around our campus while some people dressed in uniform with NRDCL logo printed on their breast pockets moved around with some Indian labourers in tow. After the marking was over, a few people marched in with their chain saw and started felling the trees behind our academic buildings which disturbed our normal routine due to the noise produced while the machine got operated. The children gave a restless look in the assembly and the classes were no better. The trend continued for two days and on the third day I saw a commotion during the interval. On inquiring I came to know that there was a huge elephant in our campus.
A student came running and shouted “Madam, elephant near our class”.
The giant elephant was getting a really good audience before it began its work. Yes! The elephant had been brought to load the huge logs into the truck to be transported to the auction yard and it was right behind my classroom.
The students got excited and wanted to draw it for their English lesson (I was teaching them about animals of Bhutan). I gave them a green signal and they got busy with their drawing and colouring their art piece while adding a few sentences underneath their art. On monitoring the class, I saw a girl drawing the elephant with a rider holding a huge stick. She went on to explain how she was the man hitting the elephant while making it drag huge logs. She added “If I were the elephant, I would have used my trunk to throw the man off my back. He is a bad man”. I further asked her to explain her reasons for calling the man a bad person and she went on to explain that a group of students saw the man hitting the elephant with a huge stick with a sharp metal point at the end of the stick when the elephant slowed down while pulling the logs the previous day.
Such a small child with a compassionate heart made my face beam with pride because, even in the meddles that adults cause with the nature, there is a hope for our children. In our mad rush of modernization not everything is lost. A child who shows compassion to an animal at her tender age shows hope for the coming generation.
Seeing live elephant was one thing but encountering snake is another. I was still continuing with the animal topic when a colleague teaching the next class rushed into my class. She asked me to look behind my class. I couldn’t comprehend her word and strained my ears to listen (the children in the classroom were busy with their group discussion adding blare to the noise produced by the fans rotating from the ceilings).
She spelled the word to me again “s-n-a-k-e”.
“Oga ya?” I shouted and she pointed at the window behind my chair.
I looked out and saw a slippery slimy creature slithering through the drain at a leisurely pace. My hair stood at its end because nothing frightens me more than the creature. I rushed out and called the principal who was walking behind the building checking on the saplings that we had planted during the Social forestry day. As soon as I pronounced the word, I saw him rushing towards the other direction which amused me. I never realized that I was not the only person who dreaded the slippery creature. A six foot tall person who administered the school with an iron grip was no better than me when it came to combating a slithering creature. My students were much braver than us. They stood in line near the window and observed the snake outside discussing its colour, length and movement and what not.
Later on the students ended up drawing the snake and writing some sentences about it too. :)