Colors of Courage: Meet Aneekah who quit her job to travel with her son and teach him things beyond textbooks

This mother of a youngster has taken him out of school to explore life on the road.

Updated on Sep 16, 2022 11:50 AM IST  |  406.8K
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Aneekah and her son

For kids of all ages, travelling can be an educational and an eye-opening experience. There are new cuisines, activities, and sights, not to forget excellent family time. However, taking extended family trips can be challenging due to lengthy packing lists, restless kids and other difficulties. But for Aneekah Ssonawane, a mother to her 6-year-old son, travelling with her child was a breeze, allowing her to continue to make lifelong memories as they went.

 

Aneekah Sonawane in the middle during her childhood

Since she was a young child, Aneekah has always had wheels on her feet. She remembers, "I recall taking three trips from my school when I was a kid. When I was in the seventh grade, I took my first trip to Agra. I still recall contrasting the Taj Mahal's beauty between what I had read about it in books and what I really saw. That struck me as something. The world is incredibly large, but the book only gives us a brief glimpse of it."

The woman who hails from Rohtak, a small city in Haryana continues, "When I started college, I got the travel bug. I participated in a university-run programme for youth integration. They had camps for river rafting and trekking, which made me realise how eager I was to learn about the outside world and travel. My parents could sense my passion in travel, so I joined the NCC, NSS, and youth camps. I relished the opportunity to venture outside of my comfort zone and explore."

 

Aneekah Ssonawane in her college days

Speaking of her parents she says, "My mother was a home maker, and my father was a civil engineer. Even though my mother was very intelligent and she did have a job offer at one point, which she declined, she was constantly preoccupied with housework and raising the kids because she was responsible for three children and my father had a profession that required him to work in the field. However, she did teach me that even if she was unable to accept the position, her children's education shouldn't be thrown away. We should always be able to support ourselves."

"Many members of our community complained when I used to dress like a boy when I was younger, but my dad never stopped me from doing it. He has yet to back out of supporting me to this day. In fact, I didn't need anything for my marriage, either, but I did need to travel, if not a lot. After at least every six months, I asked him to allow me to take a break that will involve slow travel.” She received all the support she needed.

 

Vacations, however, tended to take a backseat after she became a mother as a result of her naturally shifting priorities. “You go through so many physical and mental changes as a mother in the first two to three years of parenting,” she sighs. “That continued for a while, but it wasn't a break from travelling. The family vacations we used to take felt like a tiny break from the norm. I still had kid responsibilities, which I wasn't particularly enjoying.” 

For her to embrace her love of travel, the road had not been without its challenges. Aneekah was further unable to travel because of professional obligations, and she was unable to work from home when the pandemic struck in 2020. Her mental well-being was suffering as a result. She explains, "Despite the fact that the job paid extremely well, I quit and went on a few solo vacations without my son while my husband watched him. But I soon came to the realisation that I couldn't go on a solo trip for so long because my husband also needs to manage taking care of my son and his job. When my son was a good age and I could handle him and take him on the excursions, I then considered taking him along,” she reveals, while also sharing her son's interest in seeing her images from the solo journey, where he used to ask her for him to tag along for the travels.

 

Aneekha made the decision to go alone, leading her to drop her son from school. After travelling with him for a few months, she realised that he is learning so much while travelling. “Relatives frequently questioned me about why I turned down a high-paying position, particularly during a time of pandemic. They used to inquire about my son's education as well, claiming that he isn't enrolled in any regular classes, "she explains.

She goes on to say, "Due to constant comparisons between my son's home-schooling and that of other children, I frequently hear from family members and fellow travellers. They want to judge what he is learning and how he is learning it. This judgement is made out of curiosity, and then they attempt to show that home-schooling is incorrect since occasionally he is unable to socialize. If a meltdown occurs, many people think that since he does not attend a regular school, he lacks social skills. But I take that into account since he sometimes displays an overwhelming emotional response, or perhaps he is simply tired of travelling." However, Aneekha says her son speaks enthusiastically about the locations and discoveries he sees in the documentaries he watches. 

 

She smiles and remembers an occasion when she witnessed her son in an engaging conversation with a member of a different community while travelling. She exults and reflects, "When I visited Spiti, we came across a native child who didn't speak Hindi or English. On the other side, my son only understood English and Hindi. Thus, there was a communication gap. But after a short while, the kids were holding hands and playing with whatever toys my son had brought along for the trip. Actually, sign language was being used by them. That delighted me so much because, unlike children, adults take time to establish a rapport. Despite the language barrier, as well as regional and geographic limitations, the kids were playing and interacting with one another without regard for any boundaries."

"Travel is a great way to learn about education. His reading and writing are my main concerns. He needs to be able to read the signs, the instructions, and the books I encourage him to read. Since he's just six years old, I let him complete the writing portion of the travel journal using whatever broken English he is able to speak or write. I am mostly concerned about communication. I motivate him to learn mathematics by having him manage money while travelling. I give him money frequently so he can keep track of how much he has left over to spend on snacks and other items.”

 

Any trip can become a teaching opportunity, whether it's a leisurely vacation to get away from the real world or a single trip with a youngster that serves only as a commute. It also doesn't have to be completely boring. Aneekah effectively demonstrated the significance of travelling with children while conveying, "Traveling with a child can be stressful at times. Since I have to travel alone, I have to take care of everything, from packing to where I stay, everything needs to be kid-friendly, and I have to be ready for anything. The youngsters also occasionally experience meltdowns, although I believe that phase lasts only briefly for them. 90% of the journey is pure fun, with the last 10% being spent with your child exploring and making memories."

Also Read: Colors of Courage:From liberating sex workers of Kamathipura to educating their kids, map Parwati’s journey

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