Daywu Plays Offence

by Caitie / Jul 30, 2009 / 0 comments

daywu - merasi school, india


Daywu Plays Offence

Daywu Khan is a dignified presence. Around 3:30 every day, his slender figure appears walking down the street to The Merasi School. By the calmness of his demeanor, you’d never suspect the danger of his journey from the one‐room house his family of six rents on the outskirts of Jaisalmer City to The Merasi School near the center of town.

Daywu moves quickly through certain neighborhoods where the paint is always
bright on the front doors, lavish altars to Hindu or Muslim deities are replenished daily, and heaps of discarded food lie soggy in the sewers. These are upper caste homes where kids laugh and point at Daywu’s ragged shirt, make jokes about his mother, or throw pebbles at his back.

At Daywu’s house, the paint is faded and peeling and the altar is a small tableau of dry flowers and a single stick of incense. There is never enough food.  While most Merasi School students sip afternoon chai, Daywu retrieves a slate, chalk and small red rug. He settles at the foot of the stairs that lead to the roof and begins to practice ‘D‐A‐Y‐W‐U.’

Daywu writes and rewrites, erasing his work with the sleeve of an old blue blazer his brother grew out of. He practices each letter until he is satisfied with the smooth curves and angular cuts of his name.

“I have a few dreams,” he says. “My father thinks I’m stupid with my dreams. But he can’t write his name. And I can.”

“We give kids enough knowledge to have dreams,” says Merasi School co-founder
and onsite director, Sarwar Khan. “For most kids, being called a ‘student’ is
enough. For 37 generations, we have been told we aren’t worthy of education.
Now, kids have a school to call their own. That’s a garden for dreaming.”

While many students loudly declare their ambitions, Daywu spends each
afternoon steadily building his future. It is unclear what the coming years hold for Daywu. But it is quite clear that tomorrow at 3:30, he will be at the foot of the stairs, doing everything in his quiet power to see a dream or two come true.



Caitie is the India Editor for Wandering Educators