Hardships – part 4
The struggles of one’s school days are well-documented, and it is a sad reality that bullying is a part of the school experience. It makes it extremely difficult for most people to enjoy their school years. Some loathe it with every fiber of their being; they would much rather not have to experience the torments that their school’s hallways have in store for them. That was his case for a short while. He had a desire to leave, and never look back because he was picked on by the other students. They made fun of his accent, his distinct lack of grasp of the English language, the poor state of his belongings, and most importantly, the fact that his education was because of some person’s charity.
Things were quite distressful for him the initial few months, but the man whose generosity let him achieve education, also made him see reason and convinced him to continue with his education, and things slowly started to improve. Things weren’t easy, of course; having to support his father in his job after school hours made things difficult, but things were certainly manageable, and as he entered his teen years, preparing to appear for his matriculation exams in just over a year, he was, in fact, enjoying school.
Of course, as fate would have it, that is when disaster struck.
For him, without access to a television in his house, the word coronavirus was just an abstract concept he had heard of from his peers. To satisfy his curiosity, he read about it in the local newspaper. But at the start of 2020, even Pakistani newspapers were not taking it too seriously, and there was scant information about it available. That changed in just over two months, and by mid-March, his entire world turned upside down.
Education was shifted to an online mode, ‘DL mode’ as they started to call it. And while the classes on campus had been going well for him, this shift produced a unique dilemma. His father was hardly able to continue his job managing the stall, and he needed his help to ensure they could make ends meet towards the month’s end. They were barely making do, and his father did not have the means to provide him with a stable internet connection, much less with a computer device with which he could continue his education. His current third-hand battered old laptop was eight years past its sell-by date, and that too had taken a year of saving money to buy.
He would have turned towards the kind man who had helped provide for his education all those years ago for help, but he had passed away three years ago, and the charity project that he had been running for the underprivileged did not provide beyond a child’s school fees.
Graphics- Areeba Ali