"Grandma, What Are You Going To Teach Me?"

"Grandma, What Are You Going To Teach Me?"
- भजुराम तखाछेँ श्रेष्ठ

These two pictures have been floating in my mental sea like bottles with the messages. The first picture is Dr. Connie Gane holding her just unearthed granddaughter from mother’s womb. Dr. Connie Gane is the curator of Horn Museum of Andrews University (USA) and an archeologist specializing ancient Middle East civilization. With her head full of Middle Eastern civilization turmoil history of the past and the present, she looks at her granddaughter  who came with the clean slate but determined to fill it with question marks within a couple of years. The sweet picture reminds me of part of a beautiful song, “How sweet to hold the new born baby, and feel the joy and pride it gives.” Does the baby know that her grandmother is holding her? Who is holding her? That is the first lesson she has to learn through human affection relationship. It will take some time for her to find out, but in the mean time she will start to develop her affectionate relationship with her grandmother who got the responsibility to fill her mind with the finest and choicest information she could give so that the baby will need to grow up to be a person “who could not be bought or sold”.

  The second picture is Dr. Connie’s daughter,  Mother Sarah Burton, the student of Florida University, holding the baby Adelia who just got evicted from her warm natal home.  Like we rest in God’s hand, the baby is resting on mother’s hands. The first thing the baby learns is to rest. While in the womb, she was restless, turning from this way to that way, kicking the mother that made her to pat the baby inside of her to behave. For nine months, the baby swam in the sea of womb of her mother as she was fearfully and wonderfully being formed. Even though from the safe natal home the baby is out into the cold, harsh, cruel, prejudice filled, uncertain world, the baby rests peacefully and sleep because she is enjoying the joy that passes not just misunderstanding but even what she doesn’t understand just because she has mother whom she could rest. We all need a mother for us to rest, for no wonder before a couple get married the man addresses her wife as a darling, then after the wife has a baby, the husband starts to address her as, “Mother” or even “Mommy.” The man misses the mother’s natal home (we call it maitighar) so she raises the status of wife into mother. Unfortunately, many men even in our country fail to get the nitty-gritty of this truth, as a result, the domestic violence where woman is treated as a thing than a person seem quite common.  In Hindu law Manusmriti we are told that the home where woman is dishonored, gods don’t dwell. Our country may worship many gods and goddesses, I wonder whether there is really God here. Anyway, I got side tracked. Since I myself is a sufferer of domestic violence, I feel emotion about a woman being treated as a lesser gender.

Anyway, back to the picture of the curious grandmother looking at the wide open alerted eyes baby which is an intriguing phenomenon. This is the true sight of the site where the education begins.

     One goes to school, college, university, earn degree, get job, have a family, then retire and wait for the either sky to fall or fall oneself to the ashes.  This traditional concept of education is a tragic of human geography. Recently I attended a town hall meeting in Dhulikhel where the Mayor Ashok Byanju spoke about his vision of beautifying Dhulikhel by making parks, preserving, protecting, and conserving flora and fauna of Dhulikhel. The ward chairman and other took part in discussing and proposing the natural and cultural heritage. Since no one spoke about the intellectual heritage, I had to speak calling people to protect, conserve and expose the intellectual property of retired people whose knowledge is being wasted just because the late Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala made a law to oust  people from their jobs just because they were 60 years old (amazing, it does not apply to the politicians-what a partiality!). True, new people should take the jobs, then what about the 60 years of investment of personal education or  maturing intellectual property through study and experience? Once I hosted retired people from the United States. They were past 70 years old (of course, I myself is marching toward that). They went to India to volunteer their expertise on carpentry, welding, masonries etc. They were senior citizen with the senior knowledge which certain institutions were able to use them. Why not such in Nepal? All because of the concept of education has been twisted in our country.

   True education begins the moment one is born and continues till he or she reduce to the ashes. The first word a child learns is ma, ma, then ba ba, then the last word too become ba or ma. I remember when my mother was at the death bed waiting for me to put water on her mouth. Faintly she said," Babu", and then she died. I was only 5. All the future education is built on Ma, ma. The first teacher is the mother and my favorite author Ellen G. White said a mother is the closest God a child has. And she further says, “The education of the children, at home or at school, should not be like the training of dumb animals (just because the baby says ma ma or ba ba like kids and calf); for children have an intelligent will, which should be directed to control all their powers. Dumb animals need to be trained; for they have not reason and intellect. But the human mind must be taught self control. It must be educated to rule the human being (starting from the self of course), while animals are controlled by a master and are trained to be submissive to him. The master is mind, judgment, and will for the beast. A child may be so trained as to have, like the beast, no will of his own. Even his individuality may be merged in the one who superintends his training; his will to all intents and purposes, is subject to the will of the teacher.” FCE, p 15, 16. She further says in other book, Education, “True education is the harmonious development of physical, mental and spiritual power.” So as long as a person has a body, he has mind and spirit. These need to be developed in such a way that a person will use all his capacities, talents, energy for the edification of fellowmen as the Apostle Paul said in the Bible.

  Our children are no beasts as we address them as puppies, dogs, sheep, donkey etc. They become beast if we ourselves possess the character of those beasts. I started to read books to one of my sons when he was ten days old. He has been in love with books as he grew up. Each child has a right to have hand on books but if the parents are too busy on TV or mobile what do we expect from the children of those parents?  If children find parents not reading and pursuing ongoing education, “Read, do home work” demands on the children become a big joke to them.

   So my imagination of Connie’s granddaughter Adelia asking “Grandma, what are going to teach me?” should be the question of everyone regardless of age and gender and career because the day we stop learning we cease to exist. Every human being is a teacher-that is another subject of course.