When we arrived at Gaurav’s home, it was at first not clear at all where Gaurav was and who all the people were who were sitting around among cows in the middle of the area in between two houses and a wall with a shed. Later we found out that all of them were relatives of Gaurav who lives in a joint family with 22 family members.
There were cows, women, a few young men and children. A baby was crying, some of the kids were climbing on an empty wagon and below that wagon there was something that looked like a deer, eating hay and grains. While we waited for Gaurav to get his mother and siblings, we were surrounded by even more children.
Finally everyone had calmed down a bit and we could talk to Gaurav’s mother and her four children. Gaurav is eight or nine years old – his mother doesn’t remember exactly. His younger sister is seven, the next brother five and the youngest brother three years old.
Their father is a labourer, earning a bit more than three US-Dollars per day, whenever he gets work. Obviously he doesn’t get work every day but Gaurav’s mother believes that about twenty days per month he earns, making it about 60 US-Dollars in a month.
The building and the big courtyard along with the cow shelters belong to the joint family – but each of the six brothers has got one room for himself and his family. Also Gaurav’s father and that’s how the family of six sleep in the one room on three beds that they place outside during daytime to make space in the room.
With their four children it doesn’t seem like the family learnt that having many sons makes the property that each of them inherits smaller!
We ask whether Gaurav’s siblings also go to school. They do: his sister Pooja, although two years younger than Gaurav, attends the 2nd class of a government school. Gaurav is in the second pre-school class of our school. And while Gaurav can write his name in English and Hindi, Pooja has no idea about the spelling of hers. That’s the difference of education.
The next brother goes to a cheap private school just like his cousins but his mother already tells us: ‘If you have space in your school next year, I will send all three of them to you!’
Gaurav is a very naughty boy, doing lots of nonsense not only outside of the classroom. The teacher tells this all with a smile though – she knows that while teaching him is quite a bit of work, he has a quick mind!