Oases and Mirages

Another haiku:

The beaten believe

Oases are mirages.

They build their cocoons.

I gave this one to the English/Bengali teacher this morning.  She talked about it with the children, explained the words — an exercise of many meanings…

I look for ways to tell the girls I understand them, difficult at times without a shared language.  I also look for ways for the teachers to understand their behaviors, their mistrust, their defiance at times.  And I look for answers as to why we do not beat them, when it seems to some that a good beating would change behavior.  The haiku, the use of literature is also an exercise in shifting from the concrete to the abstract, from the literal cocoon, to ways they protect themselves.

Cocoons are easy for them to understand as we visited Science City last week and saw a house full of cocoons.  Oases are easy for them to understand as we have been watching Ten Commandments, and they saw the oasis in the desert.   Mirages — there is actually a Bengali word which I’ve forgotten, but it was described to me as when you think you see the sea before you and you run towards it, and it isn ‘t there. 

I’m told the girls really enjoyed trying to understand the haiku.  Two of the girls who often are in trouble took note, and did not try to doze through the class, as they sometimes do.  We try and try, and give them time, time in a place where they are not beaten, literally or figuratively.  We all work very hard psychologically.  They are at work constantly trying to find "evidence" that we will betray them; they challenge us to beat them; they relax, have fun, go on guard again.   — For our part, we work hard too, because to be honest, our agenda is to change them — to change the direction in which their lives were going.  And we want them to want to change!  We want bad language to stop, fighting to stop, moodiness to stop — harps and bulldozers, Heaven and Earth.  It is our dance, and we hope that love will help, ours and theirs.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. K
    Feb 18, 2008 @ 23:50:56

    Michelle, Mirage is “Morichika” in Bangla. The one you see in the dessert or sometimes on asphalt roads in Kolkata in summer. It would be fun to come back to this post when the children will learn refraction and appreciate the physical origin of mirage!


  2. K
    Feb 18, 2008 @ 23:51:59



  3. Michelle
    Feb 19, 2008 @ 05:58:15

    It would be even more fun if you came and taught them about it!!!! Can’t wait for your visit.


  4. K
    Feb 19, 2008 @ 19:35:01

    Will see you this summer!


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February 2008
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