ISC -ICSE English language — developing a story
Wang wins his battle against the elements
Opening lines …..
It was a particularly cold morning. The mercury had dipped to minus nine. In his ramshackle home in a remote Chinese village, Wang got ready to walk to his school some four and half kilometers away. No school bus, no parent to accompany him. No winter wear. No protective shoes. With grim determination, and steely nerves, Wang, with large parts of his tiny body exposed to the cold, set out with his school bag hung from his shoulders. His grandparents looked on pitifully till Wang, treading the winding mud track, vanished out of sight.
The ice crystals were gnawing at his exposed tender skin. Wang seethed in pain. But, he knew he had to reach the school, somehow. He summoned all his courage as he trudged along. The snowflakes had turned the landscape white. With no mercy they came down and impinged against Wang’s face. His hair soon turned white as the flakes clung to them. Wang was determined to make the distance because he had done his homework well, and wanted to see his teacher’s smile. The blood flowing in his veins seemed to freeze. His cheek turned pink, and his finger tips began to swell. The chill was foreboding, but Wang was defiant. After nearly an hour, the school building became visible. With sudden burst of energy, Wang quickened his steps and reached his school.
His friends gathered around him, amused to see his pink cheeks, and white hair. Little did they realize the grueling time Wang had gone through. They began to mock Wang for his strange looks.
Yes, he saw his teacher’s approving smile as she glanced through his answer scripts. She was soon overwhelmed by the ordeal Wang had gone through to make it to the school. But, in that remote impoverished corner of China, she could do little for Wang. However, she took out her smartphone, clicked a few photos of the frost-bitten Wang and sent it to her friends.
In a matter of hours, Wang’s photo had become a hit in China’s social media. Sympathy for Wang, anger against the government, and sweeping despair at China’s rural schools’ conditions were evident in the scores of messages that followed Wang in the media. The local Communist Party rushed winter clothing for all the students of the school, and arranged to upgrade its heating system.
Wang had won his battle against the cold, and the impoverishment that mark the life of countless Chinese students in the hinterland, away from the glitz and glamour of the bustling cities. He had long forgotten the warmth of his mother’s caressing hands. She had left him when he was barely a year old. Adversity, at times, brings its blessings. Wang had become stoic and stolid.
India, like China, has to look to its decrepit school infrastructure. Roofless schools, absentee teachers, no text books, and high drop-out rates blight India’s rural schools. It is time, the two countries begin to reverse the rot.
[Adopted from a recent BBC report]