On May 15th, I was witness to a great musical experience – that set afire a series of questions and answers; that made me look once again at my idealist outlook with renewed conviction. The show was well timed for me as it came at a point when I was at a moral crossroad – when I was fighting with myself on my ideals and principles. The cause of the conflict lay in my inability to ‘be the change’ in a particular slum community in spite of being a part of a system that holds strongly to belief and hope. Our mission is to provide an education that will help build knowledge, skills and character in these kids so that they can lead empowered lives. On one hand there is promise of belief and hope; on the other, there is an equal, if not a much greater possibility of frustration and failure. How does one deal with kids who have broken families, who are hit by their parents, teachers, community members; who are forced to get into manual labour outside their homes; who fall into bad company and get caught up in incidents of thefts, eve-teasing, sex scandals and sometimes child abuse? We carry the huge responsibility of being the change in their lives, so that they see opportunities that will help them lead better lives.
‘The Magic Box’ brought to life the lives of slum children and their perception of happiness. The hour long musical portrays the journey of three students in search for the ‘key’ to ‘the Magic Box’ of happiness. The difficulties that these kids face during their search brings them close together and change their perception of happiness. The values of sharing, caring, honesty and integrity are portrayed very carefully in the well-written script. The care free, yet sensitive disposition of the characters portray the charm of innocence in the midst of too much unwanted knowledge and street smartness. The impact of school and learning is brought to light in the conversations where the characters draw parallels from classroom to real life; when they try to apply their knowledge in the real world.
Above all, for every person present, the musical was a complete entertainer. The little actors from the school did full justice to the excellent script and professional choreography. The teacher, a Teach For India fellow- Mansi Panjwani and her students at Pujya Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalaya at Koregaon Park deserve full credit for showing Puneites what ‘every child’ is capable of when given the rightful chance. Every child has the potential to do great things, to go great places – only you need to believe in them and help them look towards a beautiful future.