A day in the life of ... Neelam Sachdeva

29th November 2013 at 00:00
The students of this Hindi and Sanskrit teacher at a school in Faridabad often have a good reason for not doing their homework, and it has nothing to do with the dog eating it

I am 50 years old and I belong to a middle-class family. We have only three people in our family now because my elder daughter has got married. When I was young, I used to think about those women who work outside and manage their families. I opted for a teaching job because it suited me and my interests.

I have a master's degree and a BEd in Hindi. I teach Hindi to senior classes and Sanskrit to primary classes at Dr Anil Malik Senior Secondary School in Faridabad. I have been teaching for 23 years: by now, most of my former students will be managing families of their own.

I get up at 5am. I take a bath, pray to God and prepare tea for my husband and daughter. I cook breakfast while listening to the radio - they broadcast God's prayers at this time. I leave for school at 7.30am. My school is only 2.5km from my home, but I take a rickshaw because of a problem I have in my joints.

At the start of the day, the students and teachers all assemble for prayer in the hall. The students chant Gayatri mantra and the national anthem before we go to our classes.

I am the class teacher of Class 11 (ages 16-17). I take attendance and ask for the previous day's homework from the students. Some make excuses for not doing it. They come from poor homes and have to work after school to help meet their families' financial needs. Parents often share their financial problems with us and the school agrees to lower its fees for the child.

After lunch, I teach Sanskrit to Class 6 (ages 11-12). One student, who is good at his studies, is sitting idle at the back. I call him up and ask him what the problem is. He tells me that he is hungry and has not eaten lunch. When I ask why, he says it is because he is angry at his mother: she asked only him to do domestic chores and not his younger brother.

I smile and tell him that his mother gets tired from doing so much work, and that he should help her. Later, his classmates tell me that she came to school during lunch and gave the boy his food, but he did not eat it.

I tell the student to sit beside me and finish his lunch. I assure him that I will talk to his mother when school ends. When she comes to pick him up, I speak to her and tell the boy to obey his parents.

I get home from school at 1.30pm. My husband comes home for lunch in the afternoon, so I cook food for him.

After he leaves, I take a nap. I wake at 5pm and water the plants in the backyard. In the evening I pray to God, and by 7pm my daughter and husband have arrived home. I make tea for them and at about 8pm I start cooking dinner. My daughter helps me, and we eat and share our days. Then we watch television. I like comedy programmes.

Sometimes my daughters and husband insist that I leave my job and be at home instead. But I don't want to leave until I retire. Everything is settled in my family and my daughters are capable enough to earn for themselves. I like going to school and teaching students. It keeps me busy, happy and satisfied. I feel active when I teach.


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