Many of us use the phrase ‘being moved’…. It could be by a event or a person or a book that we read or a movie that we see…The impact of this phrase hit me fully a few days ago when I was in Hosahalli to attend the 27th Annual School day of Viveka Tribal Center for Learning (VTCL). I had woken up that morning with a bad viral flu and was unsure if I could make the 2-hour drive from Mysore. Dr Ramkumar, the head of the education program at Hosahalli was keen that I come. This was also because the students and teachers were together staging a play based on the history of the school. The play was based on chosen anecdotes from my book ‘Hosa Kanasu’ in Kannada. Pumping myself with an assortment of pharmaceutical agents, I reached the school in time for the evening event.
VTCL and Hosahalli has always had a special place in my heart. This was the place that I spent most of my time from 1988 to 2000. I still carry fond memories of not just building the infrastructure but also filling the school with its soul along with close colleagues whose friendship I cherish till this date. This was also the time when we faced our adversities with the greatest amount of bonding amongst the SVYM team. As I sat nostalgically recollecting the days, I must mention that I was totally unprepared for the drama that the children enacted. Over 40 minutes they literally relived my life of those days. From setting up the school based on the Kanchi Shankaracharya’s suggestion, to the cow gifted by Swami Sureshanandaji – the play had everything. Anecdotes of little Manju sharing his afternoon meal with his sister Sunanda; of Jadiya’s argument with me; to Muddiah convincing me to offer the traditional appeasements of tobacco and country liquor to the ‘spirits’ – so much was told in so little time. As I sat watching the play, I was transported in time…. all the events of those days came rushing in. The people I had befriended, the elderly ‘yajamanas’ (tribal chieftains) who had become my friends and guides and the colleagues who had given so much of their lives for this cause. Though I was forewarned that I would have to join the children on stage for the final climax, I was completely unprepared for the same. The full import of the emotions of the movement descended on me and I found myself moved beyond belief. Tears flowed freely down my cheeks and I just could not fathom how much inside me was getting moved. I could hardly speak on stage and I quickly left after mumbling a few sentences on what the school meant to me.
I forced myself to have small talk with people in the vehicle on the journey back home hoping that it would somehow reduce the heightened emotions with me. But this is not to be. Two days down the line, it seems very clear to me. Amongst the many things that I have done in my life and with my life, the Hosahalli school will remain special. It is here that I was truly schooled in the understanding of human development and the nuances of educating the educated indigenous tribal children. It was here that l learnt that giving love was the surest way of receiving it in plenty. And it was here that I made some life long friends. Hosahalli is not just a school to me…it is a place of pilgrimage which taught me how to be human and how to go beyond it too.