Making Learning Free for a Better World

Dedication: Dedicated to my dad, the best dad a girl can possibly have.

I wish we had control over time, so that we could plan out all the happy moments of our life with those closest to us, before they are claimed by death. My father was always my best friend, as far as my memory takes me back. He was always there for me and with me, guiding me through all the tough stages of growing up. Parents are not always empathic to your needs, but he was. I didn’t realize this until I reached my 20s when he was already old and frail. I would have been a better daughter to him had I been a wiser person sooner. Gardening was what we did as a collective activity apart from him storytelling over a cup of tea. He is no more, but what he has left behind are memories of him inspiring me to be the best that I can. By introducing me to great books and emphasizing on the need to communicate well, he prepared me for life in a way I would never have envisioned had I been in his shoes. He told me that considering our poor background and the place we come from where there are no privileges of any kind, the only thing I should focus on is the ability to communicate and express, and that this is something that will take me far. He was absolutely right about the power of communication despite his rural background. Words have the power to move mountains, if used to that effect.

I was born in Shillong, a beautiful part of Meghalaya, popular for its scenic landscape and uncountable waterfalls, a land dotted by pine trees and cherry blossoms. After school I always landed at my dad’s office where I had a good time with him ordering evening snacks for me and my favourite orange drink (Goldspot). Then he took me out for a walk, and we came back home thoroughly entertained and happy. Life became slightly tougher when we moved to Ri-Bhoi, a village with unruly people and the strangeness of that life got to my father’s mental health. He developed paranoia and was always affected by panic attacks. Sometimes in a fit of rage, he would say nasty things which affected our once great bond. Hate developed and we drifted apart. I swore I would not see my parents once I was adult enough to leave home and that’s exactly what I did when I turned 18 and left home. Went back to see them again at 22 but much had changed. He had aged considerably and was much thinner and weaker now. Mental illness was an issue we were not aware of in those days and we thought he was senile. Instead of treating him, we would force him to act nice to people and didn’t understand his anxiety. I was 28 when he passed away all of a sudden and the night before he had tried to call me but I was too pissed with him over something he had said, and refused to talk to him. I don’t know if I should be feeling guilty or sad over what happened. Life never gives you a second chance and that’s something that I learnt the hard way. Dr.Seuss was right when he said, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.”

In loving memory of my dad, I have now launched two projects both focused on improving the lives of people who are deprived in some way or the other because of an unfair world. Untwine is a platform for artists and writers to reach out to a wider audience and also to connect with fellow Untwiners. ‘Centres For Free Learning’ is an initiative that aims to enable access to Free Learning for people of all age groups. We will be targeting various neighbourhoods and bring the community together to make learning possible for all. Reading, writing, playing music, learning dance forms, sports, etc. are the key areas targeted by us. The majority of the world is not on social media. The majority suffers from hunger and are still affected by crippling poverty. We understand the value of free learning and will be doing everything we can for a better world for some of these unfortunate people that are ignored by the affluent minority. My dad’s suffering made me understand why it’s important to do something to bring about this change that we desperately seek.

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Heavena Singha

Highly inspired by Kafka, Keats, Kahlo, Gandhi, and Orwell, I love learning new things. I thrive in a world of ideas. Traveling, music, blogging, photography, and art are some of my interest areas. Currently, I am busy working on a project to build Centres For Free Learning.