When I first came to Bhavya at the age of five, the decision to come to this space instead of enrolling in a school was not in my hands, or my comprehension. When I look back now, though, I can appreciate the many ways Bhavya supported and nurtured me as I grew. From the beginning, I was given the freedom to discover my own interests and lavish my full attention on them. These initially included building cities and tunnels in the sand, investigating insects and plants, playing cricket, and reading. I think that because I could choose how I wanted to spend each day, I became inherently self-motivated, learning how to try, and fail, and try again.
The freedom to hurt another child or invade his/her space was not given to me, but my negative feelings themselves were never condemned. Instead of being branded violent or rebellious, I was allowed to express my emotions, and I soon learned to do so without injuring anyone else. If something I did disturbed someone else (or vice versa), the focus was always on finding a way to prevent a recurrence of the problem, rather than on designing a punishment.
I entered a classroom only at the age of eleven, though my friends began structured learning by around seven. The workload began to increase while I was preparing myself for the IGCSE exam, but I could complete it without undue difficulty as I had an inherent interest in the subjects I had chosen. Having worked with Sita to achieve a good grasp of English and Mathematics, I could apply these skills to make learning any other subject a less daunting task than it might appear.
I'm sincerely grateful to my mother Neeraja, and the other adults of Bhavya, who gave me their time and energy, and their heartfelt love. Though I certainly didn’t always agree with them, I always felt free to express my own opinions. What I value most is the respect that was given to my wants, my feelings, my thoughts – it made me feel like a person in my own right, regardless of my age. The self-confidence that grew in me from these relationships is something I still cherish today.