A bright, lively young girl from a small town marries and moves in to a big city. Her husband is quite clear from the beginning that he does not want a career-oriented wife. And she is quite happy with that. But there is a restless energy within her. The husband recognizes it and encourages her to follow her heart and do whatever makes her happy. They do make a lovely couple.
As the years roll by, they move into a new locality. Her house is located at a place where she can see a different a section of society. She watches them through her window or balcony as she goes on with her day’s chores – where the people are not so affluent. They are not in slums, yes, but they do need to count their pennies before they spend. She notices that the children in that locality do not have the same privileges and luxuries that her daughter enjoys. They do not have even a small park! Most of us would have not given it a second thought. At most, some would have thanked god for their good fortune and gone on with their lives. Any other woman in her place would have blissfully spent the rest of her life in shopping, gossip and watching TV.
Not Vandana. She decided to do something for these kids. For a start, she decided to hold classes for them. Classes that they could not otherwise afford. They lived in a spacious three-bedroom flat, and she initially used the extra space to hold classes. She started with music and dance. Was she trained in music or dance? No! She thought out of the box, and got innovative. She hired teachers who were willing to come to her place and teach. She chose teachers who agreed with her concept of giving back to society, and did not demand high fees from students. Initially she went through the tedious job of moving furniture every time she had a class. She did it happily and single-handedly. The number of students began to swell, and the house was now too small to hold all classes without a hitch. Her next obstacle was finding a place. She was limited to the vicinity as the students would not attend classes if they were held too far. After searching for a few months, she found an open terrace with a small room that she used as her office. She invested in the required infrastructure to put up a roof so that the sun and rain did not disrupt the classes. She now added classes in oil painting, guitar and the harmonium. The people in the locality were very happy to have a place where they could learn so many things at affordable rates. Shortly thereafter, she had to move from this place as some people in the neighborhood did not approve of children talking and laughing, and also the sounds of music! She had to start all over in search of a place. She soon found one nearby.
There was no financial benefit at this stage. Vandana’s main needs were to pay rent for the place and to pay the teachers. The inflow was the same as the outflow. She did not aspire for more. As the school grew, she registered it and went official. She called it ‘Pratibha School of Art and Music’.
Her efforts have been recognized by the Karnataka Samskrutika Academy and she was awarded the Karnataka Bhushana in 2017.
Vandana is now a trained yoga teacher, and has added yoga to the list. It has been nine years since the school was started in 2009, and Pratibha today teaches the housewives too, along with the kids. These women find an outlet to learn things they wish to in their free time after completing their household chores.
It is a happy wife that keeps her surroundings happy, a happy neighborhood that makes a happy city, and then a happy country! May her tribe increase!