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Matter of life and death

Ronnie loves playing video games and chatting with his friends. But he hardly has the time for these small joys of childhood. Even his Sunday schedule is jam-packed with coaching classes. After all, he has to “stand” in the Madhyamik this year to fulfil his parents’ dreams. Amu, the domestic help at Ronnie’s house, is of his age. However, she has a burden of a different kind — earning for her poverty-stricken family back in the village. Ronnie does well in his exams but he doesn’t become the top-ranker. “Disappointed” with his performance, his parents mount more pressure on him and a time comes when Ronnie buckles under it. He attempts to take his life but Amu saves him in the nick of time.

The story revolving around adolescent suicide was narrated through a street play by schoolchildren at five venues in the city on October 10, to mark World Mental Health Day. The street plays were part of a programme organised by NGO Chip to spread awareness about suicide in the age group of 14 to 21-year-olds. The programme was supported by Hope Foundation, Hive India, Samikshani, All Bengal Women’s Union, Tomorrow Foundation and Crisis Intervention.

Children from Modern High School and from bustees in the Tangra area, where Chip does a lot of work, participated in rallies on Gobinda Khatick Road and Syed Amir Ali Avenue. A debate in Bengali on “Parents and the educational system are responsible for adolescent stress and suicide” was held at Modern High School in the evening.

One of the participants in the debate, Moon Moon Pal of Tomorrow Foundation, pointed out how many children are forced into too many extra-curricular activities by their parents. The second speaker S.K. Sitara of Future Hope School blamed youngsters for distancing themselves from family and friends after getting involved in superficial love affairs. Debayan Majumdar of St James School criticised the government for the present education system ,which endorses only the overall topper, and not the student who scores high only in the subjects of his or her liking.

All the eight participants felt that suicide was not a solution to adolescent woes. They urged youngsters suffering from depression to seek help from family, friends, teachers or NGOs instead of building up the frustration within oneself. Hive India’s Sahayata Helpline for the suicidal: 65266347, 9830237261

Kick-off

The semi-finals of a football tournament held in our school saw a spirited contest between Nalanda and Ujjaini houses and between Taxila and Vikramshila houses. All the students crowded around the playground, with even the teachers cheering on their favourites. Taxila won 5-4, while Ujjaini won in the second match 2-1. The finals are sure to be a treat for all of us.

In an inter-school basketball tournament for boys, organised by The Matrix, our school’s Interact club, St Thomas’ Boys emerged the winner and MP Birla was the runner-up. In the girls’ competition, the host school was the topper.

Debayan Roy,
Class X, MP Birla Foundation Higher Secondary School

The quiz at Nostalgia. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

Whiff of nostalgia

Nostalgia, the reunion of the Calcutta chapter of the North Point Alumni Association, was presented by The Telegraph at Oberoi Grand recently. A quiz saw former students of other schools in and around the city also joining in. Kalyan Gupta of the 1974 batch of North Point remarked that the event “was a way of bringing the old boys together”.

The contest included more than 60 teams, scaled down to eight in the elimination round. Rather than stressing on current affairs, it was a looking back on events past and present. Quizmaster Barry O’Brien set the tone for the evening with the question: “Name the stations you would pass on the train ride from NJP (New Jalpaiguri) to Ghoom.”

The eight teams included St Xavier’s Collegiate School, Calcutta Boys’ High School, La Martiniere for Boys and Phanindra Deb Institution from Jalpaiguri. They battled it out in four rounds, the clincher being the buzzer round of 20 questions. The winner was the Kendriya Vidyalaya team which included city quizzer Jayshree Mohanta.

The organisers felicitated Manoj Ghosh, headmaster of Chandanpur Primary School, Barasat, and Mary Pinto, former teacher of St Teresa’s Secondary School. The money from the meet will go towards improving the school building.

Romila Saha

Chit Chat

The Chalk Circle staged in September at Padatik

Stage pull

British theatre director JAMES WILLIAMS came to Calcutta in August to conduct a drama workshop with schoolchildren, organised by British Council. After the workshop, while enjoying a well-earned vacation, he hit upon the idea of The Chalk Circle, an adaptation of Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Collaborating with members of Theatrician, many of whom had been a part of the British Council workshop, he put up the production within five days in September.

Here’s what the artistic director in The Living Theatre Company had to say about youngsters into theatre in Calcutta.

How did you manage to train the kids in just five days'

We did a lot of improvisation to bring the play alive to them. For instance, we had the poor people physically carrying the rich to portray the relationship between the classes. These exercises increase their comfort level on the stage.

What is the difference between theatre in India and in Britain'

In India, theatre is not economically viable as it is in Britain. Here, it is seen more as a hobby during school or college. Later, the pressure of work often compels kids to give it up. Paradoxically, people in theatre are extremely committed to accommodate their passion. The way people here balance theatre with a profession is fantastic.

Are youngsters here any different'

Youngsters are pretty much the same everywhere. But discipline is worse in the UK. Also, the kids here are more eager to play around with ideas. Surprisingly, physical inhibitions are less. They know it is difficult to make a career in theatre. For kids in Britain, workshops are often a stepping stone to drama college.

As told to Romila Saha

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