The Tale of the Nightingale

If you’ve ever seen a group of children squealing in delight at an action song, then there’s a high likelihood the Nightingale was right in the thick of it. I refer to Mayuri as the Nightingale because of her propensity to use song and dance as a medium to build a rapport and spread happiness. A lot of you may already know much of her story (she certainly is talkative when she gets going), but for those of you who do not know, here goes:

A long time ago, the Nightingale first left the nest to join the Gandhian fellowship. She honed her interpersonal skills and finally had to present a project on value education; not that first lecture in school that we coasted through, but actual education regarding real values. She learnt how the development of a child’s persona is often ignored, whereas most of the focus in on the IQ.

Armed with much learning and appreciation for the importance of values, she flew right to Apni Shala. She found that their goals and dreams aligned with her own, and she flourished in the atmosphere lacking in hierarchy but full of creativity.

Nightingales do not have the memory of elephants, but she will never forget her first session. The kids seemed much older than she was used to in her training sessions. Nevertheless, she pulled out her trump card—her favourite song—and it worked. Once the session was done, she mentioned that there wouldn’t be any class next week because of Ramzan. One kid asked her why should they not attend if they did not celebrate Ramzan. The Nightingale launched into a lecture on tolerance and blah…blah…blah… Later on, she realized that she should have listened to the boy to understand his actual views, rather than cut him short and express her own.

The Nightingale has witnessed several transformations over the past year. One of her kids was always quiet and could never answer when he was asked a question. Towards the end of year, she asked if someone could recap their discussions over the year, and this boy stood up and confidently rattled off what he could remember. She was so proud! Another girl was very quiet (maybe everyone is quiet when compared with the Nightingale), and rarely spoke. The girl was involved in a group discussion after many sessions, and uncharacteristically took on the job of outlining the points. The Nightingale could see how much her kids had grown in confidence and this boosted her own.

She wondered why some children were so difficult to open up, and once visited their community. She was shocked at the noise and conditions in which they were living in. She imagined that she would tear her hair out and be angry all the time in such chaotic environs. Maybe their reaction to all this external noise is to just be quiet themselves.

Over the year, the Nightingale also grew into a confident bird, and realized that she needed to focus on her own leisurely pursuits. She believes that her organization and planning skills, as well as her ability to work in a diverse team have markedly improved over the last year.

The Nightingale earns her nickname not only because of her love of songs, but also because she is quite literally a free bird. She appreciates that she can choose her own path and dictate how she can enhance her sessions.

A loose translation of her favourite action song goes as follows: there was a hill, and on that hill, there was a tree; on that tree, there was a nest, and in that nest, there was a bird; that bird had a letter, and what exactly did that letter say?

Why don’t you ask the Nightingale yourself!

P.S: The song sounds much better in Hindi!

Nikhil Pinto

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