Shyamchi Ayi – An Innishari Experience

Shyamchi Ayi is a collection of stories about a mother and her son written by Sane Guruji, the son. Originally written in Marathi, I found a very simple English translation with beautiful illustrations. I started off thinking I’d do 3-4 stories (a story is just 2 pages) everyday as a listening –speaking activity which would last for a week or so. As it turned out, this lesson happened to be a turning point in my role as a teacher at Akanksha-Crispins 3 and hopefully for my little girls (12 year olds) who listened to it through wet eyes till the end.

The story is about a little boy who lovingly remembers his mother by telling us incidents about his life through childhood and schooldays. The book presents a very vivid sketch of his mother through the eyes of a child and his childhood, the hardships face by his mother and how she taught him to be courageous, strong and a man of character.
There are instances where the family had to leave a luxurious life, when the family was in debt; a simple night scene when the mother and son are gazing at the night sky when they witness a falling star ( considered a bad omen ), stories of positivity and integrity. There are times when Shyam thinks that his parents don’t like him and how his mother makes him realize what love is. The end of the story when illness takes away his mother while he is far away from home to study is very sensitively portrayed.

We discussed every incident in class and tried to find similar pictures in our lives. Every child could relate to Shyam’s life. There are children in my group who have a single parent and those who have only God and friends. There are some whose parents have left them for years and have not come to see them ever. There are children who have grown on railway stations without knowing what family means. There are kids who come from very close knit families who live far away. Whatever their background, Shyamchi ayi , I felt, did, to some extent plant a little seed of love and belonging and realization of reality with positivity because at the end of the novel every single child (including me) had tears in the eyes.

This lesson created a special bond between us, I felt.

I came home and started reading the story to my son who is 7 years old. It was the same story and the reactions were not different at all. Today it has been many many days since I first read the story but the impression of every single incident remains as fresh in my mind as if it is all happening in my life all the time.

Let us also try and document such little instances so that when we look back we will be able to find these invaluable pearls and thread them together for our grandchildren and many more generations which will need them as much as we do.

(Pandurang Sadashiv Sane (1899-1950) wrote this novel in five days while he was in jail in Nasik. A very prolific writer, a socialist, a Gandhian to the core, he was arrested for participation in the civil disobedience movement.)

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