Ishwar’s surprise call

At around 4:00 I got a phone call from Ishwar; from a number that I haven’t saved as his. He said that he was coming home, to my home. I said I wasn’t there yet and that he’d have to wait. I didn’t understand the next few things he says. I can piece things together from his gestures and facial expressions when we’re walking, but doing that over the phone while I’m in the office is pretty impossible. I tried calling back a few times and when I finally got through he said that I should hurry to his house. School starts tomorrow, something might have happened that he wants to show or tell, maybe he wanted to give me a drawing from his birthday present; I didn’t know. Because I get to work so early on Thursdays I was able to pick up and leave. I met his brother (cousin-brother I believe) who just got 84% on his SSC exam. This is a 10th standard exam that basically determines where you can go to college as well as many other things in your life. If you get above a 35% you pass. It’s the percentage for the entire state. An 85% is really, really good. He spoke English really well and wants to be an ophthalmologist. He got a scholarship to study science at a local college. It’s a pretty big deal for them. We were so excited. Ishwar starts school tomorrow. He wanted to show off his brother. We also found out that none of the other kids are going to school, including Ganesh. He recently started to work at the Chinese roadside restaurant. He’s too small for this. I wasn’t expecting him to say that he wasn’t going to school.
On the ride back from class I spoke with Vineet about how sad it was that they’re not going. Most of them are too old for their grades anyway. He made the point that unless the parents are slightly progressive and they see the value in sending their kid to school in the long term, it’s only worth it to have them start working at 13 or so. This is my profession and I have no influence on these kids. Honestly, I can’t tell them that it’s worth it in this system either. I came too late. I want to pick up Ishwar and run away, send him to a fancy private school where he’ll get a real education; I could do something like that, but I don’t want to be that white foreigner lady who comes in and does something like that. This isn’t my job, this isn’t where I have to be politically correct. Why can’t I just do that? I know, I can’t, but it doesn’t take away that desire to do so.
We got our results at work as well. We did really well as an organization. Some kids did as well and better than Ishwar’s brother. I know at least that’s the place where I’ve made a mark. That’s a way to end on a positive I guess. Pictures of last weekend and Ishwar’s birthday coming soon.

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