As a part of my internship with Aagaaz’s program Ajab Gajab, I have been working with children at Khirkee to create an ensemble piece based on Tulika publication’s A Kite Called Korika. An everyday session includes following our opening and closing rituals along with scene creation, dialogue development, working with silence and stillness, our own and other bodies in space, movement, listening and lots of games. A part of our practice is to understand from the people we work with, what they feel about the sessions and how it helps them be. The following are experiences of two of the people we work with – one directly and the other incidentally.
The first is the Consistent Cat. She is an 11 year old girl who hasn’t missed a single session. On the days she was sick she chose to sit at a side and observe. On asking her what she has learnt from the sessions, she said that all the rules that she follows in the session she tried to follow them outside it.
She now asks people most of the times before holding their hand and hugging them and does not cling to them without their permission. The rule that we should take care of our surroundings helped her realise how the peepul tree near her house wasn’t being taken care of. So now she waters it everyday and doesn’t let anyone pluck the leaves. From the rule of listening to everybody and staying for the entire session, she explains, how in her school everyone used to never listen to the teacher and just run ahead but she tries to listen to her teacher and not bunk classes. She stays in the class for the entire duration.
She gleefully expressed how the games played during the session have helped her during playtime at home. Now all her siblings at home get in a big circle and breathe in and out and practice eyeballing. She says everyone in her home makes a lot of noise but in that moment everything is happy and quiet. She also told how she learnt to work with other children and she teaches them the dance and drama exercises that she learns in the circle which she absolutely loves. Learning how to join words to make stories and expressing them through dance and drama and telling her family members all that she has learnt makes her feel proud.
The second experience is that of Mr. Magic Eyes. He is one of the Guards of Jamunwala Park, the space we work out of. He has been observing us work with children using drama. He expressed he is learning that children don’t necessarily learn through things told to them. He marveled at how children are learning through play. He realized how always telling kids to do or not do certain things in the park made them rebellious, and thus he started using what they learnt in the circle to address the difficulties he faced with them.
The children are often labelled as violent and rude. He shared the perception until he began to notice that a lot of people in the park spoke to the kids rudely and didn’t respect them and thus the children would not talk back with respect either. He said that he saw a different dimension of the children while they are in sessions with us. He realized that if he treated them with respect, they might also reciprocate and perhaps start listening to what he says. He started doing just that and proudly tells us that he has a better relationship with the children today. He felt if similarly the entire society treats each other with love and respect and works together, the world will be a better place.
I am not sure if the world will become a better place, however, these are small wins for us at Aagaaz. Things that make us jump with joy, bring tears to our eyes, and make us believe in the work we do every day.