The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Finding joy in serving the needy

Their faces light up the moment Geetashree Oraon walks into the classroom. For the students of Gyandeep Vidyalaya Oraon’s affectionate nature brightens up their lives and makes them feel at home.

But few are aware of the different roles she plays to balance her family, students and social commitments. She may be the wife of superintendent of police, Arun Kumar Oraon, but Geetashree has an identity of her own.

“My career as a teacher started unexpectedly. Though I regard teachers very highly and consider it the most noble professions of all, never in my wildest dreams did I think of taking up teaching seriously. Of course, my work is honourary but the satisfaction that I derive from it is priceless.”

“It all started with just five words that I asked Sister Blanche Correa, ‘How can I help you'’. And she immediately asked me to take a few classes in the school.”

Thereafter, Geetashree went through a gamut of experiences from the initial jitters of classroom teaching to tasting success in moulding her students.

“When the offer was made I was initially hesitant. But what really helped me decide was my admiration and respect for the profession. However, to be honest such respect for teachers was seen more in our times and is sadly amiss now. But I took that as a challenge.”

Geetashree took it upon herself to give back to society what she got with her privileged upbringing.

And when it comes to social work or as she puts it “devoting time, energy and resources for people in need”, Geetashree has always been a spendthrift. Be it her college days in Delhi or while she was in Punjab, along with her husband, Geetashree has always tried to bail out those in trouble.

“When my husband was posted in Punjab for about nine months I was working with the women’s wing of Red Cross Society as its vice-president. We used to visit the hospitals regularly. On two days of the week we went on extensive rounds of the different wards. We had then taken up the cause of tuberculosis patients and also spread awareness about the disease among the people. Our work also included, settling family disputes. Though it was quite hectic but I feel if you enjoy the work it is never a burden.”

But she certainly does not forget those tough days when convincing the poor rural women to attend yoga classes was a challenge.

“I had tried to organise yoga classes for women but had great difficulty in cajoling them to attend the course. I was around when the course was over, but I was later told that the women had started their own classes and were recruited as instructors. From then on I decided that I will always try to generate self-employment opportunities,” Geetashree remembers fondly.

Geetashree says her father wanted her to become an architect. However, destiny had other greater things in store for her. “I inherited my selfless nature from my parents who too lived and worked for others.”

Geetashree, however, does not let her work affect her duties towards her family. With her husband tied up most of the time with official responsibilities, family outings and get-togethers are rare.

“My children, Priyamvada and Pratyush, are my priority. When they pass out from school I can utilise my time to do something more creative and fruitful.”

Geetashree also religiously takes part in the programmes for the families of constables.

“Such programmes instills in them a feeling that their superiors are not only concerned with their routine work but also about the welfare of their family,” she explains.

Geetashree, who takes moral education and English classes, is an avid reader. “Vikram Seth is my favourite. His travelogue, “Heaven’s Gate”, is the ultimate treat for readers. However, I am not a choosy reader. I enjoy whatever I can lay my hands on. I love both pop and country music as much as sufia qalam and ghazals. I also like to paint, water colours being a passion. I wish I was a professionally trained painter. For now I am reading reviews of art exhibitions and books on painting to learn the finer aspects of painting,” said Geetashree, who is also a master chef, but is too modest to admit.

Geetashree cooks some lip-smacking tamatar gosht and malai kofta every now and then.

“I love to treat people to good food. It feels good seeing the content look on their face as they eat.” Well, that is Geetashree for you, always living for others.

Sweta Dutta

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