Little Sandhya is four and barely taller than the tables of the Reading Room, where she has been making a drawing for the last 20 minutes.
Now, volunteers are telling her it’s 6pm. Time to wrap up. But Sandhya’s not going to leave without signing her name on her masterpiece – a hut and mountains, with a shy sun peeping through.
A volunteer steps in to write her name but Sandhya’s not having any of that. “Mai khud likhoongi” – I will spell it myself.
Alright, says the volunteer, go ahead (it may be pertinent to note the hint of scepticism the volunteer feels, looking at this wisp of a child).
The volunteer is impressed (and not a little bit ashamed of her earlier skepticism). The four year old has got it almost right and her mistakes are delightfully on point.
A ‘b’, which is nothing, if not an inverted ‘d’.
And ‘g’, which let’s face it, sounds a lot like ‘d’.
As the volunteer corrects Sandhya’s spelling, the child leans in with full concentration and one knows, in that very moment, who is learning from whom.
********There is a wonderful program - no, a growing library movement - that's bringing the joy of language, literature and expression to kids that may otherwise not get that learning in their early lives. If you are in Delhi and would like to see, volunteer, donate, read or even be hall monitor for a day, reach out to the good folks at Deepalaya Community Library Project.