Life is not the same in schools of Nandigram block-I, Kolkata.Teachers are beginning to notice subtle but horrific changes in their wards- those that depict violence , borne out of a life of being terrorized.
In schools including Brajamohan Tewari Siksha Niketan , Usman Chawk Siksha Kendra, Keyakhali Prathamik Vidyalaya and Rajaram Chawk Siksha Niketan of the area, teachers are finding it hard to recognize their students.
These educators rue the violence at Nandigram which has caused the change."The students have been exposed to so much terror and trauma that their behavior has become unlike children's. The situation has been like this for a year, but it has cost them their childhood. They find themselves prematurely at the crossroads of adulthood," gives Mahato, a teacher.
Being warm and inviting, Mahato's students would tell her their own horror stories, most of which rendered her speechless.
According to most school records, around 25-30 teaching days have being lost this year.
After a long fortnight, Keyakhali Prathamik Vidyalaya headmistress Mohini Das re-opened the school on Monday. Yet only one teacher has come till date. "It's eerie to sit in the school without students. But I have to be here to give parents the confidence to send their children to school again," she says.
At Brajamohan Tewari Siksha Niketan, the headmaster is more than worried about the growing indiscipline among boys. "It's a manifestation of the violence they have experienced for so long. It will be very difficult for them to reclaim their innocence," he says.
As political parties war, children have been helpless-they are forced to be informers or couriers of country-made bombs. "It has now become part of their being. While some have turned introverts, the thrill has become an addiction for others," bemoans geography teacher Sujata Patra Maity.
Since the last year students living in areas bordering Khejuri and Nandigram - Satengabari, Sonachura, Gokulnagar Adhikaripara, Takapura and Kendemari - have taken an active participation in protest marches and night vigils. "I would stay on guard with other men till 3 am. Invariably, I'd feel sleepy in school," recounts Class-IX student Ananda Patra.
Purabi Dutta, the Red Cross Kolkata branch medical officer-in-charge who has been visiting Nandigram since May, divulges that she has had to prescribe sleeping pills and tranquilizers after some children complained they had not been able to sleep for 10-12 days at a stretch. "There's mass insomnia out here," she says.