Mirambika Crisis: reproducing the experience of the current class 10th students of Mirambika after the 14/4 shift

A compilation of the experiences of Class X students of Mirambika Free Progress School after 14/4

On the 14th of April, a public holiday, all our textbooks, books, charts, etc., were dumped into the ‘New Mirambika building,’ a development we were not even aware of, until the next day when were told to enter ‘school’ from Gate No.6.

Ever since the shifting of Mirambika to the Ashram, a “normal” day hasn’t really been a normal one. When I walk through Gate No.6, I’m immediately surrounded by a group of parents, all of them in small groups, involved in a heated discussion. Some of them hand around papers, collecting signatures. I walk past them, and go into the Ashram through the entrance in front of me. Ashramites and Ashram guests watch me from the balconies on either side, most of them yawning in their nightclothes, some even have toothbrushes in their mouths. Staring straight ahead, I walk through the courtyard and turn left, walking into the entryway with a sign saying ‘Tapasya.’ A short walk across another courtyard, and I’m in our group; the room with a small ‘Humility’ stuck onto the door.

Our classrooms are actually dormitories, which hold a very strong resemblance to my storeroom. They are no bigger than 9×16 square foot. We have just enough place to sit. Walking around or doing anything else is too much to ask for in this small cubicle. The greatest inconvenience, however, is the beginning of a new class, when we all have to take out our books from one big cupboard. If we go together, there is the greatest confusion and no one ends up getting anything, but if we wait for each other, a lot of time is wasted.

When we objected about the size of our classrooms some of the teachers’ replies were quite surprising, knowing that they had known Mirambika well. “This size is perfect and as much as any school has,” I remember one of them say. I felt really sad to hear that, for Mirambika is not supposed to be like any other school in any aspect, whether it is studies or the building or the environment.

The previous classrooms gave us that freedom of space which we are entitled to by our Mirambika Free Progress School and which had become a very essential part of our growth as Mirambikans

After having finished with the morning ordeal of getting to my chair in our tiny classroom, I make my way to the sports field. Going for sports is like a breath of fresh air; it’s when I feel like everything is almost normal. The only thing missing is the gym where the badminton court and trampoline were, because it has now been turned into a workshop. Sports time is also the time when we are allowed to get the closest to the old Mirambika building.

Once during sports, some friends and I went into the Lobby, because we had been told that going there was ‘allowed.’ I couldn’t resist pressing my face to the glass doors and looking into the school. Very soon, a few teachers found us and scolded us. Apparently, there is a new rule that stepping foot anywhere after the Neem Grove is against the law. Throughout that week, many people lectured us for ‘doing unlawful things’ and ‘setting a bad example for our juniors.’ I’m still not sure what we did that was wrong.

The only unchanged part is the dining hall. It is more or less like the earlier one and we all see each other and eat together. But I can’t help and feel like we are forcefully given that place. There are barricades on all the places which connect the ashram with the place given to the school- apparently for our protection. It only ends up making us feel that this can’t be our school. Thus, after sports, for have our morning snacks or ‘Juice,’we sit in the section of the Ashram Dining Hall that has been cordoned off for us.

Apart from that, our new‘library’ is very unique. The books from our old library are all stacked up in the basement and only a few have been taken out and arranged in our new ‘library’, which was actually the ‘hall of yoga’. There aren’t even enough tables for us to work on. Furthermore, even though a library is supposed to be a quiet place, it is difficult to concentrate here, with the yoga classes and singing classes going on in the same room.

Our science lab, math lab, computer lab, resource centre, music room, hall of light and library are gone. For quite a long time, we did not have any science practical classes and computer classes. The science lab, along with all its equipment, was left behind in the building that is rightfully ours. Yes, after a week or two, our science practical classes were arranged for in MIS, but we had to skip six classes every week to go there for our experiments, as MIS could only give us a time slot from 12 to 1pm. All our old files are still in the computers at the old Mirambika building, thus we had to start over from scratch in ‘New Mirambika’. Additionally, the software in the computers at the Ashram computer lab does not provide us with what we used to use for learning, and they stop working erratically, which is extremely inconvenient to anyone using them.

Often during our classes, there have been occasions on which I have seen Ashram guests yawning on the floor above us, or peering into our groups, staring at us, which is extremely odd. Being in a residential area, we cannot say anything, but is this acceptable in a school?

There have been one or two instances, when, on entering the toilet, I’ve found insects lying in the pot. The unhygienic atmosphere itself has made me hold it till the end of the day.

Once it’s free time and lunch is over, I find that I’ve nothing to do, as the only places we can go to are the claustrophobic classrooms and a couple of other rooms which are not highly interesting in themselves. So my friends and I have taken to relaxing in room number 26, a room across the courtyard that we have sort of made into our common room. The Ashram is filled with forbidden places: entrances we cannot go through, staircases we can’t climb, and rooms we can’t enter. For us children, who have grown up with the idea of wandering freely around our school building, it is a tough concept to handle.

At some point in the day, at least one child in an MIS uniform comes to visit us. They are all ex-Mirambikans that were part of the same school as us just a few weeks or days ago, but have left because of the current ‘situation.’ None of us really ever know what to say to them.

I think we were shifted from our building very unjustly. MirambikaFree Progress School is not all about the building, it is about the spirit of Mirambika, however; this spirit needs space. The ashram does not have that space, and nor does the new building that is being built for us. I doubt there is space for a library, science lab, computer lab, and many other necessary rooms a school needs over there. You really can’t expect children to walk from the new building to the ashram or to MIS every time they need to use the library, science lab, etc. And I also doubt, as to how long a school can survive on top of a grocery store.

To be truthful, all these days in the ashram, it never felt like we were coming to school. It was more like we were coming for extended tuitions because we barely got a chance to interact with the youngsters, so it never felt like a big family, like Mirambika.

Nevertheless, as the end of our ‘normal’ day at ‘school’ arrives, we’re all a quiet lot without the mother’s music. Honestly, I found it pretty boring when it used to play, but now that it’s gone, I feel like it was a part of me, one of those things which made Mirambika what I love.

And just like that, we leave, and return the next day, resigned to another day of ‘school’ without seeing the Fish Pond, the sand pit, the Lotus Peak, the Music Room, the Resource Centre, the Gym, the slide, our large, open, airy classrooms, the Junior Park and the Duck Pond, and all those places which were such an important part of our childhood but have been suddenly taken away from us.

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