Teacher’s Day: In Kashmir’s ‘Curfew Schools’, Kids Draw ‘Death’ on Canvas

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Aakash Hassan

ISLAMABAD

Kids of Islamabad's Curfew School. (Photo: Aakash Hassan/KL)

Kids of Islamabad’s Curfew School. (Photo: Aakash Hassan/KL)

It was teacher’s day today. But in Kashmir, they celebrate it differently. The schools are closed from last two months, but it hardly stops teachers and students from teaching and learning—in the atmosphere of everyday atrocity.

In one of the curfew schools in south Kashmir’s Islamabad, students performed, amid joy and agony. Joy, that they have celebrated it with new friends and agony that it was not this time at school.

In this makeshift school, at Reshibazar Islamabad, around 150 students from nursery to 12th standard, earnestly, with their 10 teachers performed skit, poetry and Tarana.

“We are so happy that we are able to celebrate Teacher’s Day despite our schools are closed,” says Sifta Jan. This sixth standard student’s happiness is not undying though. “I feel sad when I see everything shut. I fear to walk on streets when I see forces with their guns. It is scary.”

Kids standing in backdrop of their sketches.

Kids standing in backdrop of their sketches.

For the teachers, this is a unique experience.

“Teaching them gives us peace of heart,” says a teacher. “At home we used to feel depressed, doing nothing for whole day.”

“We stay busy teaching them and the day passes happily, we make them learn and we too learn,” she adds.

However, not all the teachers feel same.

Khaytul Abyad, an award-winning artist, and fine arts graduate from Kashmir University, teaches in this curfew school, but feels worried.

Kids draw dying persons.

Kids draw dying persons.

“These are so innocent kids but sometimes they ask us certain question that really worries me,” says Abyad. “When once we asked kids to make drawing, depicting what you want to become,” she says, “most of them made sketches of gunmen, dying people and wailing women.”

Sitting behind the drawing, portraying a gloomy face, canvassed by Abyad, she says, “we are trying to shift their attention by introducing them to cultural activities but it is difficult.”

While the forces are guarding the deserted alleys, in the congested lanes of old town Islamabad, a voice calling, “yete yee na amun,” echoes the walls.

“We are in conflict and we have to keep ourselves learning and mostly happy,” Zulikha, a 6th standard student of Radiant Public School Islamabad says. “We want to go school but how will we go when people die here every day.”

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