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The Torn Bag

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

There is a girl in my class whose name is Bhavna. After our school had taken admission, we saw Bhavna only the first day. The second day she didn't show up. Those first few days I wasn't too worried, as that happens often with our kids. However, after much time had passed I worried about her. We didn't have a contact number or even know where exactly she lived. Since I hadn't gotten to know her, I had a hard time when our school head asked me questions about her. I could easily tell about the rest of the kids in my class, but what could I tell about her?

Suddenly, one day Bhavna showed up with her sister! They came into the office and started explaining, "Ma'am, our father drinks a lot and fights with our mom. That's why we haven't been able to come to school." I said, "Okay, no problem." I left it at that, sometimes we don't need to know more. I could tell that they were hurting and wanted to give me a simple explanation. Then from that day onward they started coming back to school.

The second day since her return, I saw that her bag was a little torn. I suggested that her mother should stitch this for her, and then it would hang properly.

One day, Bhavna came to school, after her classes, she was waiting for her older sister's class to finish. After having, my lunch I went outside to rinse the containers. Suddenly Bhavna was there, and said, "Ma'am, you told me to stitch the bag so it would hang properly, so I have stitched my bag!" She beamed with pride. I smiled at her and told her, "That is a very good thing!" Then she started telling me,

"Ma'am, where I used to study earlier, was a good school. There my bag had been torn and I was scolded a lot for that. My bags used to be old, and my dresses too. I had to go to school wearing my old, dirty and worn out clothes. I often got punished for this. My teacher continually asked why I wasn't dressed properly. They expected that I would come with new clothes and shoes, but we simply couldn't afford it. We had spent our money on the admission. I would feel ashamed for not having a good enough bag or clothes for school. But here, it's different. I don't get that punishment here or feel the shame, and you teach me so well. When I take out my old bag to put my homework, Ma'am, you don't even say anything! I'm learning so well here and feel accepted."

Bhavna was very happy about this fact. She doesn't have to have the pressure of having the best clothes, best shoes, or best bag. Her precious money to doesn't have to be spent, just trying to live up to a mark. And, on top of all of this, she doesn't get punished. She skipped away full of joy.

As I finished rinsing my lunchbox, tears filled my eyes with joy, that a little girl like Bhavna, has a place where she feels happy, can learn, and knows she's loved just the way she is.

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