Is it not possible that the entire society is seen as a vast university, every community in it an open treasurer of knowledge, as if they were collectively a vast reference library, and the institution of learning a co-curator, a co-supervisor of that knowledge?
It must have begun as some kind of transaction. Otherwise, how would a 15-year-old have been expected to teach? I lived with my parents at that time in a house that left me quite ashamed. The house was perched on a mound in a colony that was next to a defecation pit. We called it tekre vaaro ghar. The house on a mound.
Our next-door neighbour, whom my mother called Savitri Bhabhi, would on and off lend money to my mother for ghar-kharch, household expenses. My father was out of business. And my angry brother was trying in vain to make ends meet for us.
As the youngest person in the house, there was not much else I could do, but, at the very least, I could help Savitri Aunty’s children to study in return for the money and kindness she extended to my mother. So, I would go to the house next door and teach Savitri Aunty’s two children…