What happens when you read to those who can’t

June 21, 2016

This remarkable and inspirational story is a precursor to a later post on two very different women. In that post, one of the women was incredibly brave. This helped her to chronicle one of the most gruesome events that are now part of world history. The events occurred during the middle of the previous century, and in part thanks to this brave woman, one of the most prominent perpetrators of crimes against humanity ultimately received a humane judgment.

But being the coward that he was, he chose to take his own life instead. For the record, this man was responsible for the deaths of millions, not even thousands, of men, women and children. In my later post, the other woman, completely different from the first one mentioned here, was initially an unwitting participant in these gruesome crimes. Originally, she did not know what was happening. As will be pointed out later, one of the problems related to her early ignorance was the fact that she could not read.

And because of this, she could never have the benefit of a decent and formal education. To stray entirely from what will come later, the rest of this post tells the remarkable, and yet unusual, story about a young man who taught this hapless woman about the benefit of knowledge which comes through reading practices. He was able to show her that it did not matter what story she was listening to and would later learn to read, knowledge of who we are as human beings can come in any shape or size.

In the early days of her unusual lessons to read, and later to write, one of her favorite stories was about a lady and her little dog, originally written by one of the greatest story tellers of all time, the Russian writer, Chekov. In the event, this story was about a lonely aristocrat, living in isolation in an ivory tower surrounded by the conveniences of first-class living. She also had a tendency towards free-spiritedness. That this remarkable ability to open up at times did not help the protagonist in this story did leave the learning woman with a moral lesson.

It did not help her in the end either, but that is another matter altogether. Mainly, she learnt that it was always possible for a woman to empower herself in the way she manages her emotions and enters into relationships with others, particularly men. Had she not learned to read, she may never have learned this. But, there’s another lesson to this remarkable story of a man much younger than his pupil enabling her to read and write. Although, given the vast differences in their ages, it was highly inappropriate for this to happen – both younger teacher and older pupil had an affair – this young man had the gift of love in his heart.

Such conviction and care for the other, helps the teacher successfully educate her children. If she did not have what we also understand to be a calling or vocation and was merely going through the motions, who knows what would happen to the children left in her care and trust. Somehow, it also seems, love is the answer to many of our other questions.

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