By Shobha Diwakar

We all are aware of a mushroom. We know what it means and in our childhood loved to eradicate it out of curiosity to find the next day that it had sprung up once again. Our innocence  culminated into uprooting it again and again… did it convey a message? We were never aware of it. It seemed as though they had consumed the sacred nectar and were therefore immortal

Gradually as the world progressed, there was a sudden spurt of mushrooms. Belonging to the ‘ancient’ era it struck me as weird to assume its modern day connotations. There were mushrooms of all class, quality  and variety ready to be devoured… used as veggies, pizza toppings and what not… boiled, baked, fried or micro waved. What a grand feast for sore eyes. It was initially a rude shock to see people eyeing the mouthwatering stuff coyly, picking it up and then dumping the packet in the basket. The mushrooms too eyed its captives tenderly from its no escape route and happily trotted home feeling proud to have been the pick of the day.

Recently we keep hearing the word ‘mushroom’ umpteen times over the news channels or read it in the papers. I wondered why such a common word from the eating mushroom had transformed to this new connotation of a wildly growing term that spelt so many different meanings to it. Beauty parlors have mushroomed, gyms have mushroomed, schools… play schools, nursery schools, coaching classes or schools and stores of all kinds and varieties have mushroomed everywhere. Inside the apartment premises, outside the apartments,… tailoring shops, boutiques and mobile and scooter, car garages and repair shops. The pavements meant for the common man are shamelessly converted into parking lots. The latest… everywhere toilets are mushrooming for pedestrians to use albeit the so- called ‘men’ prefer to use blank walls of any house or even a school building with not a shame!

What has happened to this advancing country that is gloriously striding towards the 21st century and launching rockets so successfully? Why has decency died? Where have morals and values, goodness and beatitude drowned? Why are children being raped and murdered in sacred learning centers called schools?

Education seems to have lunged towards a disastrous landslide. It is not the first time that a child has been murdered but to think that this has happened inside a so -called prestigious ‘international’ school is horrifying.( Incidentally, I am reminded of the glaring fact that it has become a wild fashion to open a school and call it a ‘public’ school, a ‘convent’ or an ‘international’ school). Are these so-called schools really International, public or convents in any way? It has indeed become a fad to lure and befool the public by such ads. Where are the parents supposed to send their kids to receive a good education?

It is time that the government took some serious steps to thoroughly investigate these striding mushrooming factories and put an end to their flourishing buds. Until and unless a strict investigation is made to ensure the safety of the children in these so-called honey celled type of one or two room schools, their license should be cancelled, the fact is not many are or have been registered.

When are parents and the government going to wake up from their ‘kumbhkaran’ lethargic involvement and become activists for these precious children?

About the Author: Dr. Shobha Diwakar lives in Jabalpur, India and retired as the head of English department at C.P. Mahila Mahavidhyalaya, Jabalpur. She has published many research papers, stories, poems and essays in national, international and online journals. She contributes regularly to writerslifeline and Indian Periodical. Dr Diwakar  servers on the Advisory Board of and editorial board of CLRI (contemporary literary journal India) for poetry and short story section.

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