March 2024

🆕 Student Literary Lounge

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A New Section in Naviiina!!

Student Literary Lounge

This platform is dedicated to the creative expressions of students from IIIT-Bangalore. Soumaditya, an MS by Research student, has crafted a compelling story blending elements of realistic fiction and social commentary. Additionally, Mr. Kannan V has contributed his artistic talents by illustrating the story with his captivating cartoons.

We encourage and invite readers to not only appreciate but also to contribute their own creations to this section.

A New Boy in Class

“Please welcome the new boy in the class. His name is Jamal,” announced the teacher, Ms. Susan.

This was a boy’s convent named St. Mark’s in the fictional village of Ralpathar, India.

It was started in 1923 by a kind priest named Reverend (Rev.) Mark who wanted to promote literacy in this village among the children. It wasn’t easy to convince the parents to send their children to school. The argument on the parent’s end was that their children could help them on the farm, as most of the people of this village were farmers and when they could get extra hands at work for free, they thought about making the most out of it. Also, there was a general fear among the villagers that the schools were institutions of the British government to convert the faith of this majorly Hindu-populated village.

Jamal, trying to adjust his torn-at-many-places-satchel so that the books don’t fall out, nervously eyed a seat beside the window. Just as he was about to occupy it, someone from behind poured water on the seat. Jamal was annoyed, and scared too.

He took out his handkerchief and wiped the seat. But just as he was about to sit, that same boy pulled the chair from under Jamal. This frightened him. His parents, ever since they moved to this village in search of better opportunities have faced hostility because of what God they prayed to. From using religious slurs to even harassing them for pending loans, some of the Hindu villagers made their life hell. The other families of the same community that Jamal’s family belonged to had to silently suffer this. They lived in a small part of Ralpathar.

So, Jamal knew the suffering waiting in store for him, wrapped up in sheets with the label, “You are not welcome here”.

Jamal, just like his name in Arabic meant ’beauty’, was a person incredibly good at heart. He turned and looked around, scanning the room, until another seat was free. This was far from the window and hardly any sunshine ever got there but at least he could give this seat a shot. So, lugging his satchel again like before, he rushed to the seat before someone else could spill water on it.

“Hello Jamal, my name is Amandeep. Welcome to Mark’s! I hope you have a great time here,” said the boy beside Jamal. Jamal didn’t respond, still feeling frightened. But this boy seemed friendly and nice. Jamal hoped the bullies wouldn’t trouble him again. Fear is contagious. Last time when Jamal’s father was harassed by the money lender for not being able to clear his due, he was afraid. This fear got into Jamal and Noor (Jamal’s sister) when he watched the money-lender threaten their father. It was the same fear he felt for the bullies. These thoughts clouded his mind and kept swirling round and round until Amandeep’s voice shook him out of this.

“Jamal, which was the last school you had attended?” Amandeep asked.

“I didn’t go to school until now,” Jamal replied.

“Oh, that’s quite late. You should have started it as early as grade 1.”

“I wish I could. My father taught me at home until now. Not everyone is as privileged as you. My community is denied equal opportunity and the others aren’t kind towards us. Had it not been for Rev., I wouldn’t have been here.”

“I can understand what the other people of your community go through every day. And I don’t hate you or your community at all. I have got nothing but brotherly love for you, Jamal.”

“Thank you.”

“And if you need any help with academics, just let me know. Also, don’t worry about that bully. As long as I am here, consider yourself free from any trouble.”

“Thanks a lot.”

“Can we be friends?” Amandeep extended his hand. Jamal shook it to make the friendship official. Friendship among children is very different than among adults. As you get older, it gets hard to make friends, let alone close ones. But as children, you don’t need a reason to be friends. Despite being total strangers, Amandeep and Jamal felt a strong connection, as though the whole universe was trying to bind them together. And this universe didn’t care for what God each of them worshipped; it was the purity of the heart that mattered much more.

Jamal felt relaxed. Maybe his first school wasn’t at all that bad. Maybe life wasn’t all bleak. He thanked his God for kindness from his batchmate, and Amandeep thanked his God for giving him another new friend. But in fact, they prayed to the same God. And, God smiled. To Him, everyone He had created were equal and were all his children.

About IIITB

The International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore is a technical and research university in Bangalore, India. The Institute is a registered not-for-profit society funded jointly by the Government of Karnataka and the IT industry under a public-private partnership model.

For more details: Visit www.iiitb.ac.in

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