Utpal maybe soon moving to a new school. If all goes well it could be in less than a month. The need for the move has been on the anvil for quite some time. It had to happen for more reasons than one. For the past 3 years or so, Utpal has been deeply disturbed and in therapy. This was to be expected as the violence, abuse and pain you suffer during your very early childhood manifests itself in your pre-teens. Utpal had a very violent and unstable early childhood as the child of alcoholic parents and with the mother being severely bipolar. When he was one he also had to bear the excruciating pain of third degree burns in a country where pain management is close to non existent unlike other countries were severely burnt children are kept anaesthetised in the early stage of their treatment. Then he also had to deal with his mother not giving sign of life for 4 years. As he grew up, he also had to deal with the scars on his body which make him 'different' and bear the bullying that ensued. All this put together was too much to bear and unfortunately the school was not able to comprehend the extent of his pain.
The school was ideal for the 4 year old who needed to find security and love. That was given in abundance in the early years by some very understanding and loving staff members but as he grew into a pre adolescent and deal with boys, self image and other issues, the one enabling environment became stifling. Moreover the need for him to be able to integrate an English speaking environment was not fulfilled as sadly in spite of 6 years in an English medium school, his spoken English is poor. I guess this is a sad reality in our education system. I was told that in a school somewhere in rural India, children were fined if they spoke Hindi and the only language they were permitted to speak in was English. A good model to follow.
Anyway nothing is eternal and the wheel of change has to move.
I am reminded of the song made famous by the Byrds
To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven.
So maybe the time for Utpal to move on has come! He has got what he needed from this school but now he needs more: widen his horizons, hone his skills, enlarge his friends circle by meeting children from other parts of the country. But that is not all. This school having day boarders and thus buses will enable him to come home often and have regular counselling.
Utpal has always been older than his years. I realised this when he was just a toddler. Somehow this aspect of his personality got obliterated by the slew of problems he had to face, when behaving like a child was what was the right cried for help: his grades fell, his behaviour was challenging to say the least. Had he come and said what was bothering him in a serious and adult manner either one would not have believed him or one would not have taken the required steps.
Yesterday he met with his counsellor has I wanted her to have a talk with him and prepare him for the change that awaits him. He said that he did want to change schools but had apprehensions: that his English would be poor compared to that of his new school mates; that they too may make fun of his scars and above all how would he make friends? His counsellor gave him coping strategies and told him she would visit the school and talk to all concerned and explain everything. He was relieved. But I know my little man will not show his fears. We will have to stand behind him all the way and be there when needed. The counsellor also asked to speak Hindi to him when he his home on week ends and that is his comfort zone.
Let us not forget, the school he is in has been the longest 'home' for this child of God. He entered its portals when he was 4 and is leaving when he his almost 12. Good, bad, indifferent it was the only place he knew. So leaving will not be easy for him. The counsellor talked of change akin to seasons that change. I think he understood. Now only time will tell.
In a few minutes we are setting off to have a smart hair cut and buy new clothes for tomorrow's interview. I hope he likes the new school. One thing is certain: if he does not like it then we put our searching boots again!