Home Sweet Home – Study Room, Rose Garden, Gurgaon
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Children go to public parks to play. But these three boys are picnicking over school books.
There are dreams to chase after all and “no time to waste,” cautions the poker-faced Aman, who aspires to be an engineer. He is sitting on the grassy slope of Gurgaon’s Rose Garden in Sector 15 in the Greater Delhi Region with his two cousins—Kaushal who wants to be in the army, and Lovekush who harbours an ambition to be a “commando.”
Students of a nearby government-run primary school, these studious boys live in the park with their gardener parents in makeshift dwellings. Their family elders don’t mind their “khel-kood as long as our study time outlasts our play time.”
Since this being a Sunday afternoon, the scholars are studying “at home”—the garden. Each is concentrating on his book. They all are reading aloud, their murmurs traversing about the flower beds like somebody’s sleepy singsong voice.
The boys say they like every subject but particularly love Hindi “because we know the language so well,” declares Aman, speaking on behalf of all the three. The toughest subject to tackle is English “but our parents help us with it.” There’s also a group of “sirs” who come daily in the evening to give free tuitions to them, along with kids of other gardeners residing in the park. “When we have a problem with school homework, we ask mummy-papa to find answers from Google.”
Now a gardener appears, asking the kids to hurry up for their lunch. All three immediately get up, and walk over to a homely meal spread out on a dhurrie (rug), just a few steps away. Half an hour later, the boys are seen sitting elsewhere in the garden along with a larger group of kids—all concentrating on their respective textbooks.
When park is home