Thursday, June 16, 2011

In a child's world!

By Aswathy Kumar

I still remember what my professor once said. I was amongst the thirty students to have been selected for the Journalism course at a leading institute in the city. That day, I was attending one of my first sessions on ‘ Writing for print’. After an hour of lecture on ‘adopting the pyramid style in writing’ and the ‘ simple is beautiful’ concept, my professor said, “If your story is able to capture a child’s interest, then it’s a success and your work is done”.

The lecture got over and months later I was placed in one of the top media houses. However unlike my peers who took up hardcore reporting, covering issues related to crime, civic sense and health, I was placed under a special section that dealt with schools and education. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed as I too like my friends was looking forward to getting into the kurta- jhola attire and take up the ‘living on the edge’ way of life. That did not happen. My clientele were students from the age of seven to seventeen. My job was to talk to them, find out what they wanted and write stories they wished to read. The pay was good and the brand name was great. Yet I was disappointed. I felt that my job was a bit too easy and lacked the challenge that I was all this while waiting for. Little did I know then that in a couple of days, I was going to be proved completely wrong and realise that my so-called easy job for children was after all no child’s-play.

A mega inter- school quiz competition was held in the city that happened to be my first major reporting assignment. Over five thousand students from class III to XII had gathered to witness the mega show. Flying pom-poms high up in the air and yelling out slogans, “we’ll rock you” and “we are the best”, the students stormed the once-peaceful auditorium.

I felt great flaunting my press pass and being escorted to the seats reserved for the press invites. I felt at the top of the world as though I had just received my first few minutes of fame. The show began as I scribbled the course of events in my note pad. I told the organisers that I wished to speak to the winners and in just a couple of minutes they were brought in front of me. Like a parrot that had just learnt to say her first word; they shared their experience. (Probably told to them by their teacher or parents). ‘Oh it was a great opportunity to develop my inner skills’, ‘This success wouldn’t have been possible without my parents and teachers’, ‘ I can never forget this moment”, were amongst a few obvious reactions. The funny thing was that all the five winners seemed to have similar things to say. I came back to office and keyed in my story… that obviously turned out to be quite a disaster.

What went wrong I wondered? Were my questions not right? Were the students too tensed? Did my presence scare them? Or was I scared of it all ? A thousand doubts lingered in my mind. The story was rejected and I was asked to cover the finals to be held the following week. “This time don’t go there as a reporter, go there as a child”, my editor yelled out from her cabin.

What did she mean? I pondered. The following week I geared up to undertake the challenge once again. This time I knew I had to get it right. Flaunting my press card and occupying the seat for the press invites were no longer my concern. I decided to stand in line with the students as they were entering the auditorium.

“I can’t wait to see my school win, we have sent the best this time”, commented one of the kids. “ Hey we worked day and night to get our banner ready and we even practiced our cheerings and slogans”, said another. They were gripped by the excitement and didn’t seem to notice the stranger (that’s me) standing beside them making notes of what they were saying. The excitement grew on me too as I started asking them more about the preparations that went in making the evening, a memorable one. I learnt that, from practicing a victory dance to preparing their own cheering slogans, they were all set for the event. I captured their excitement, anxiety, fear, nervousness and restlessness. After a while even taking down points wasn’t necessary. I laughed with them, cheered with them and got tensed with them as the results were being announced. I had forgotton that I was working for one of the leading national dailies in the country. I forgot that I was a reporter. I was one among them.

As I went backstage to congratulate the winners, I felt their joy as they showed off their trophies. “Aditi is going to be so proud of me”, said one of the winners, referring to the cute girl in his class. “I guess this would change her mind”, he smiled sheepishly. “ I bet she would”, I said, giving him the thumps-up sign.

I went back to my office to do my story one more time, recalling each incident that happened and each moment I had captured. The story was great and went straight on page 6 (quite an achievement for a first timer). But my biggest achievement however came when a student called up to say that the article was great. Even the boy who had a crush on the cute-girl in the class rang up to say that she finally accepted his proposal and thanked me for making things easy for him.

As I sat back in my chair, basking in the joy of my big achievement, I remembered what my professor had once said, “If your story is able to capture a child’s interest, then it’s a success and your work is done”. I knew I had tasted my first dollop of success.


  1. and aswathy, this piece has touched my inner child too :) lovely

  2. True! Writing does seem to come from 'experiencing' and not just listening! :) Well done u kurta-jhola-less journo!