Had I not been encouraged by someone as sensible as the one who encouraged me, I would never have written about how I spent my Dipawali yesterday. But then, I was assured that if I share, people will find it inspiring (instead of thinking that I am bragging about it) and some thing good will come out of it. So, here it is..
The day was just like any other day I have spent at this place. Wait, it was not like just any other day….I was feeling painfully nostalgic. Bored as usual, sending Happy Diwali messages to every one and updating “missing home badly…. ” type of statuses on facebook,I ended up watching two movies at last. It was in midst of the second movie, “ Argo” that I got the call of one of my good friends here and got invited to where I was to spend my Deepawali evening. Now what he said to me seemed to be a good idea….actually an idea better than that of roaming on roads and watching others bursting crackers.
The idea was to visit some people, some children, who are less privileged than us and to spend our Deepawali with them, sharing sweets, crackers and joys with them and making their Diwali happy too. But before that, we worshipped a goddess…an unusual one. Instead of the goddess Lakshmi ( hope she will pardon us for that..) we garlanded and prayed in front of the idol of Mother India. By “we” I mean some of my friends of my year and others from different colleges and occupations here who are the members and patrons of a NGO which in addition to being one of India’s oldest and world’s largest, faces the ire of many a “intellectuals” and the so called seculars. Well we had an intellectual among us too, who was against idol worship… .
After that we headed to the place to where we were actually destined. Its name is Maatri Chhaya (मातृछाया)। It is an orphanage of sorts and also a children’s home. We had with ourselves sweets and crackers. This organisation is home to children who are actually orphans, or were abandoned by their parents for some reason or another, the street children who dwell on streets or beg on railway stations and place like those and the children who are mentally challenged and have no one to take care of them. Children up to 10/12 years of age live here and the organisation, namely Sewa Bharati, bears the expenses through the donations which people make to it.
First of all we were made to meet the toddlers. I have no words to describe my emotions which developed when I entered the dormitory. There were babies in cribs, one year, one and a half years, 6 months, 8 months……10 days,14 days old, abandoned to survive in this world on their own. They all were so cute, and so lovable that I was compelled to to think about how could one abandon them ever…!!! The moment you offer your arms to them, they would stretch their little arms to climb in your lap. Once in your lap, they play with you like they have known you forever. Those tiny smiles are among the most beautiful things I have seen till date. All of them were so elated…laughing, shrieking with joy, clapping and slapping ( one was actually slapping every other guy she could find). And they simply refused to climb down from our laps and to leave us. Some were abandoned by their parents….some, mostly the girl babies, were simply left on the door steps of the building by their parents. These unfortunate children would never get to know who their real parents were. It was really difficult to leave these children of fate at the end…but then, time is a ruthless thing. From the toddlers we moved on to the older ones, to whom we could talk and fire the crackers with. But there were rules according to which it could be done only under the supervision of the authorities, and unfortunately, none of them was present at that moment.
We talked in detail about the modus operandi of the organisation…and were really impressed by it. The parent organisation’s name is Sewa Bharati and it runs on donations. The children are grown up and nurtured to be raised as good men, and takes care of their well being and education. The organisation also encourages adoption. One thing which was clearly visible that it was not like the ordinary children homes in which the children are kept like prisoners under pressure and spend gloomy lives. Every kid out there was happy, there was a smile on almost every face. They knew that today is Diwali and it is a happy thing. Second most important thing was the hygiene of the place…it was really up to mark. The children were wearing clean clothes and were being served with good food. The manager told about us the problems they have to face as an organisation. The street children, who don’t know the value of education and ethics, tend to run away back to their usual life, which seems to be far more elusive than the hostel life in the Matri Chhhaya. This problem is not with those who have been raised from infancy in this very organisation.One of them, perhaps named Feroz, even refused to go back to his real parents. On being grown up, these kids are sent to the Saraswati Shishu Mandir, of which I too am a proud product, and this is enough to assure that they are given the best education, culture, traditions and ethics. Lot of them get adopted as toddlers…and those who are not, get absorbed in the society seamlessly.
So what we can do for them…?
We can visit these “differently fortunate children” and make them feel that they are not alone. People have small families of four or five or so people, we can make these children feel that whole world is their family. Later in night I got to know that some of my batchmates have been celebrating their birthdays with these children…it indeed is a noble idea and I extend to them the deepest of my respect. This is really a very noble and sensible thing to do. Yes,I was late to visit, or to take any such initiative, but better late than never. You also can visit these children and spend time with these children on normal days… the timing is from 4 to perhaps 8 in evening and 9 to 11 in morning. It would be better if we visit these children on the days of festivals so that they don’t feel being alone. Just think, despite of having all the comforts and facilities, how alone we feel if we are not able to visit our homes on the festival…and how alone these children would feel, who have never known anything such as a home or a family. We can visit them, spend time with them, donate as much as our pockets allow and even complain about anything we think is not being done properly. We owe something to these children…lets be their brothers, sisters, parents….friends, family. After all, it has been taught to us in the oldest of our scriptures..
It means : This is mine…that is yours, this type of thinking is possessed by those who have mean consciences, small thinking. For those who are kind hearted, whole earth is family.
So…… KAR KE DEKHO, ACCHA LAGTA HAI…you will never be able to forget those tiny smiles…
There will be people who after reading this, will think that look at this bigmouth…he did one thing and is bragging about it all around. I will like to say thankyew to them and to tell them ‘Argo F*** Yourself’ . If this one piece makes even a single person visit that place, or even think about it in a positive way, I will consider its work done…