Sunday, March 11, 2007

Wake up you idiot!

11th March 2007
2145 hrs

It’s amazing how quickly God answered my question.
In the morning, I was asking, “HEY! WHERE’S GOD? Where is He?”
I was returning home from Imtech in the evening today (Sunday) when I met Riti on the way, she gestured me to stop.
“Hi, I’ll be coming over to your place in sometime. Are you going to be free?” she enquired.
“Yes”, I replied.
“Are you free now?” she asked
“Yup”, I replied.
“Come along then, I have to show you something.” She said
So I went home, parked my scoot and went upstairs to drop my stuff in the room. Then we both started walking towards the market.
“So what do you think it is that I wanna show you?” she asked.
“No clue”, I replied, “is it a new shop? Is it a new food court in our sector?”
“Nope”, she replied.
“Then I don’t know. I’ll just wait to find out” I said.
Then we crossed the AWHO Park and she said, “Yesterday I went out for a walk and I crossed this small rather unkempt building behind the market.”
“The homeopathic clinic? I’ve been seeing it since I was a kid. What about it?” I interrupted.
“It used to be a homeopathic clinic, now it’s being used as a children’s home by Don Bosco society.” She said.
“REALLY!” I exclaimed.
“Yup, n I got to meet the kids that stay there. I also took Joy (Riti’s golden retriever) along so that they could play with him. A few are orphans but most are from extremely poor families that gave them away because they couldn’t afford another mouth to feed.” She told me.

We reached the little red building. Riti knocked the backdoor and a young helper-lady opened the door and greeted Riti with a big smile. The backdoor opened into a small but long kitchen. When the kitchen area ended, we entered a room lined with bed on two sides and a rug in front where around 8 or 10 kids were sitting and watching TV. It was minimally furnished(it wasn’t very big) …rather just the beds, a small old rug, a simple curtain on the window, a TV rack with TV and a couple of plastic chairs stacked one on top of another but most importantly, it was clean. When they saw Riti, their faces lit up and it caused a little commotion amongst them. We were then greeted by two nuns. They all seemed so happy to see us. Riti surprised me; I didn’t know she was so good with kids. She instantly connected with them it was just the second time she was meeting them. They all remembered Riti’s dog’s name but no one remembered her name. She suggested to the kids that they could call her “Riti” since “Suchreet” was a little difficult for them to remember. She also introduced me to them and then cross questioned them, “What’s his name?”
“JESSE BHAIYA”, all the kids shouted in unison, it was almost deafening. WOW! They didn’t call me uncle.

The nuns offered us chairs to sit and asked the kids if they wanted to interact with us (or wanted to watch TV which they were doing when we entered). They all cheerfully agreed to switch the TV off; I was quite surprised…how often do you get to meet kids who’d give up a fav TV show to meet you.

Now about the kids, they came in various shapes (thin to plump), colors (very dark to very fair) and sizes (tiny to tall…i.e. as tall as any 5th grader) and their names went from extremely Christian to extremely Hindu. They eldest was in 5th standard, the youngest one was in pre-nursery (she was a tiny angel). I don’t remember their names but their faces are still dancing in front of me. Riti started off by asking their names…hullabaloo…man they all spoke at the same time…always…and they were LOUD. Riti handled them well and got them to make less noise (intermittently for few seconds) so that she could hear everyone individually…they all introduced themselves by speaking aloud their names, their classes and sections and the schools where they read. I was surprised to know that they were all being sent to good schools…St Xaviers and Sikhiya. They all had different ways of speaking, all of them introduced themselves in English…a little broken though but they were all so sweet. Some were confident and some shy. All I could do was sit and watch in amazement while Riti did her thing with them. I was quiet for a long time. Then we spotted a boy (his name was Odil) who was rather quiet and almost in tears. Riti asked him to come to her, he did so reluctantly. Odil was healthy, dark boy with a little broad nose he must be 6-7 years old, he had a constant frown and teary eyes…this was a genuine expression of emotional stress (trust me I know this look very well). He never looked at either of us in the eye but fixed his gaze on the floor. We gently asked him a few questions, he did not respond…did not even nod. All this while the rest of them were creating a ruckus, jumping around and interrupting our attempt to talk to Odil with their funny antics…then one of them tugged at my jeans and told me, “bhaiya, iska bhai kal ghar chala gaya thaa, isliye yeh dukhi hai.” (his brother left for home yesterday that’s why he’s so sad). So Riti just brushed her hand on his cheeks and let him go.
Suddenly I had a strong urge to interact with them…till then, I was too lost to be saying anything. So I asked them loudly, “what’s your favorite dish?” to which many replied together, “Sab kuchh!” (Everything)… “Wow! I can ask stupid questions!!” I thought to myself (after all how many different dishes must they have had). But then different answers started pouring in,
“Mooli ka parantha”
“Gobhi ka parantha”
Then came in random answers…
And then I realized that they were just naming the different types of foods that must’ve been mentioned in their text books. But they all loved one thing…SAMOSA!! That was stated unequivocally. Then one of the boys (his name was Rahul) came near me and shouted “mujhe to aap acche lagte ho” (I like you) and started doing bhangra…
“wah! aaja beta, kha le mujhe.” (wow! Son, come and eat me.) I replied…they all laughed.

Many of them wanted to perform…they kept taking each other’s name…
…“bhaiya, yeh gaana accha gata hai” (he sings well)
…”didi, yeh dance karna chahati hai” (she wants to dance)
Then there was a guy who claimed that he couldn’t do anything, his name was Simon, a quiet boy…right then, someone announced that he was good at drawing. Simon ran to the other room and brought his drawing notebook along. He showed us his drawings…we appreciated his work and cheered him.
A few of them sang songs, some danced. What I was amazed at was that apart from their rhymes, they knew complete lyrics of all the bollywood songs that they sang.
There was tiny guy, his name was Ankit. He was hyper active, I called him, “Ankit idhar aa!!” (Ankit come here). He sprang up and came running towards me.
“Show me your feet little buddy” I told him
He obliged, and the others asked “why were you seeing his feet bhaiya?”
“I just wanted to know if he’s fitted any springs under his feet. He jumps around so much.” I said and they all laughed…Ankit could not stop dancing…he was so happy and cheerful.
Then I asked them, “bare ho kar kya bannaa chahte ho?” (What do you wanna be when you grow up?)…you know the usual stupid question to be asking a kid.
As usual they all shouted together…
……the variety was huge…then Rahul jumped up and said, “Main to Amitabh Bachhan banunga.”
Ankit did a little summersault and said, “Main Akshay Kumar banunga.”

Now the tiniest of them all (the little angel, I forgot her name), broke into tears. Riti took her in her lap and snuggled and talked to her. Then one of the nuns said to us, “if you show too much affection, they’ll all start crying.” I was deeply moved by this statement.

Then they all told me about their favorite cartoon characters…as usual all of them shouted together…the din was extreme.

At least they’re being properly cared for, educated (in good schools) and fed here…where would they go and what would they do if these people weren’t there to take care of them? What’s the least we can do…spend sometime with them…what’s the max we can do…something tells me…we’ll know when the time comes.

Then after an hour or so, it was time for us to leave. So Riti said “Kids we have to leave now.”
I was surprised by what followed, “NAHI…aap log abhi nahi jaa sakte” (you people can not leave now) they all shouted and they all became serious. They strongly insisted that we have dinner with them…I was taken aback by this. They had a fun time with us and therefore didn’t want us to leave (not that they were sad kids…they seemed to be generally happy people). But we had to go and we promised to come the next weekend…so it was time to say bye bye.
They all shook hands with us (maybe 3-4 times)…then Rahul put his hand up towards me (I realized that he was asking for a high-five)…so I gave him a high-five and this excited all the boys who gave me high-fives for a good 7-10minutes…they were all so happy. I saw the surprised faces of the nuns and felt pretty proud. The nuns thanked us and asked us to come often.
As we left, I had much to thank Riti for…for bringing me to that place and showing me how to connect to the kids.

At the end of the day, I must thank God again

“HEY! WHERE’S GOD? Where is He?” I asked in the morning.

He’s right here, next to me, teaching me about life and answering my questions.

No comments: