I was pleasantly surprised to see Sucheta’s WhatsApp message.
‘Hey, are you game for a unique session with my students?’
I was curious to know the details.
“A batch of vivacious Kannadiga women, aged between forty-five and sixty-five, mostly home makers, keen to learn English and upgrade their skills. They put their heart and soul into the sessions that I conduct for them.”
“Where do I come into the picture, Sucheta?”
“I want a session where they will interact with a person who doesn’t know Kannada. I have introduced you as an author and they are looking forward to this session with you.”
“Brief me about this session.”
I loved my intro.
A beautiful invitation on WhatsApp from an unknown number greeted me after a few days. It was from one of the students inviting me for the session. I appreciated her verve.
Sucheta pinged me saying that she has asked them to read out bits from a story that she has written.
It was a challenging task for me too. I had to prepare myself to strike a conversation in a language which they would relate to, understand and respond to in the simplest way they could. I wondered if my enthusiasm would match their dynamism.
The day dawned with unusual brightness. It pepped up my spirits.
The zoom call was scheduled for one hour. What will I speak for one long hour! Maybe a friendly, open approach would strike a chord?
The number was astonishing! Fifteen to twenty energetic, lively faces greeted me with a ‘Good Evening Medum.’
“Good evening, dear friends. I am overwhelmed…… I mean I am happy to see you all. This is the real India. Women when they decide to step out of their comfort zone, and take up challenges and overcome….”
I paused. I am supposed to talk in simple, relatively understandable English.
“Oh, I am sorry. Am I using difficult words?”
“No, madum. We are understanding what you are talking.” Sixty-five-year-old Kanakamma assured me.
The topics ranged from politics to books. It was a phenomenal session. I was spellbound.
Just then an enthusiastic voice cut through my thoughts.
“The bafellows billowed, the boys souted and the brids fillew srieking form the trees.”
It took me a few seconds to understand that they had started the reading session.
“Oh, good attempt. Will someone else try?”
They longed for appreciation.
“The buffaloes bellowed, the boys shouted, and the birds flew shrieking from the trees.”
“Do you know what it means?”
“Something like dristrubance?”
“Good one Tayaramma.”
Their effort was commendable.
“Madum, I read difficultily but you write many books. Happy to talking to you.”
I was speechless. Women with such keen interests rarely get opportunities to learn and grow.
As a writer am I really contributing to the progress of society?
It was an eye-opening session.
Author’s Note: The errors in some of the sentences are deliberate to make the conversation authentic.
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