Journey to Raamro
Kristina: the last one on the bus everyday: possessor of the subtly contained shyness and wide, shining eyes, and today my student of the English language.
Sat under the metal corrugated shelter in the corner of the playground to hide from the beating Nepali sun. I tap at my watch in a desperate attempt to explain the concept of the past tense. Kristina’s eyes however, are fixed upon the infinitely more entertaining sight of a child drinking water at the tap/ her friend Salma across the playground/ an ant crawling across the table. Any of these are better than me making strange noises and waving my arms around trying to explain the concept.
Finally getting her attention for a second, I hand her my notebook and pen – she loves to draw. Immediately she draws two circles – what are they? Eyes, nose, smile –they’re faces. Beside the right hand face she writes “Kristina” and the left one she writes “Josh”. “Friends?” I ask hopefully. She’s not finished. Under her name she writes “good” and beside mine “bad”. My heart scythed in two by a seven year old girl. It’s a sign of how our hour lesson has gone. I’m glad she knows at least two English words.
The following day I resolve to put the past tense on the back seat and so some reading with her to aid comprehension. As we turn the pages, she doesn’t look up when her friend comes over to us or a kindergarten boy uses the bathroom. Her eyes drink in the story and her face shines with understanding as I explain the words to her. She repeats each one back to me, chapping her hands with joy each time. As the bell clangs for the end of the lesson, I stand to go. But Kristina reaches for my notebook once again. What cutting words is the three foot dear about to deliver? She flips through to the picture of us she drew yesterday. Swiftly she crosses out the “bad” marking my face and replaces it with “good”. Then, without a second glance, she hands it back to me and runs off to her class.
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