Friday, May 7, 2010

From the Drawing Board to the Wall Canvas

A big bunch of paintbrushes had been bought along with supplies of paints and other paraphernalia. We proceeded to make friends with the brushes - they were handed out and the children passed them around. For fat lines use the wide brushes we said and for detailed fine work, the thin ones. Then we all marched outside and bowls of white paint were handed out. The next hour or so was spent 'painting' with the white paint on the white walls so that the children would get used to the idea, and when it came to the actual painting they'd be comfortable with it.

Kadapa summers are HOT. 45 C is not exactly conducive to painting under the open skies. So we decided to start work at 6 in the morning, going on up till about 9. After this a session indoors and then a much-needed break. Finish pending work/chores, bathe, eat and sleep through the blazing afternoon. Start back at about 4 when the sun begins to get kinder.

We were staying at Sandhya Auntie's house and enjoying her hospitality. You have to taste the mangoes we hogged to understand why it is called the king of fruits!

When we reached Aarti Home at quarter to six in the morning, we found the children up and about, waiting for us. Sneha and Manjula and the rest of the team who looks after them had filled up their tanks - they'd all had a nutritious drink of ragi malt and a banana each, and were now raring to go!

We assembled in the meeting room and talked about what we'd do. Went outdoors and discussed which picture we should work on first and what could come where. The thing to note here is that it was the children who decided the stuff mostly - we were merely facilitating the process. The first picture was chosen. With a bit of help from Farah, work began with gusto (as you can see in the picture) to scale it up and draw it on the wall.

We realized there was a section of the wall near the main gate that had not been white-washed and soon there was a total Tom Sawyer-like situation!

The sun was climbing higher. Suddenly someone found a little kitten. There was much cuddling and cooing over it. A bowl of milk was produced from the kitchen, the kitten however was clearly not interested. A comfy bed was made for it and the bowl left next to it.

The drawing and painting continued in the evening session. As it started to get dark, we hired some floodlights and had them fixed. Work continued till almost nine. You must note that all of this was spontaneous. The concentration and focus with which they were working had to be seen to be believed. This was beyond mere 'fun'.

There were many goosebumps-inducing moments in the week. The way the children packed everything up at the end of the day with no one instructing them at all, for instance. Even the little ones pitched in by folding up the mats. The camera was left in the middle of the ground every now and then and yet not one child touched it. No adult was around asking them to do this or not do that - they seem to have a strong sense of right and wrong. On the other hand they are confident and feel secure enough to challenge anything you might say that they don't agree with - in a polite way. This balance I bet is something every parent strives for and here in this big family of about a hundred children you see it in action.

For the hundredth time, hats off to Sandhya Auntie and her team!

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