Sunday, December 05, 2004

Can I have one day of your life, please?

I felt like they were all asking me this. Was lost for words.

"My name is Ancy. I am 14 years old. Studying in 9th standard. I like Maths and Science. I want to be a doctor someday. I don’t mind being a nurse also. I like biology. I also like watching 4PM movies on Asianet and Surya. Will you take me to your college one day? I’d love to come there and meet your friends. You said your college is on top of a hill, right? When will you come to see me again? What are you studying? What is MBA? What job will you do? Why are you studying so much? When will you come visit me again? Why do you have short hair? Can I have more chocolates please? I like them so much……"

Ancy could have been any other child. Full of questions and dimpled smiles of a typical 14 year old. But she is a very special child. Handicapped. Her legs were amputated. That’s all. By all other means, she could have been just like you or me. But that one thing changed her life. She lives in a small building with 12 other special children just like her, some of them even 40-45 years old, but just as happy as her.

Vimala Home, situated at a 2 min drive from Medical College and behind Savio LP school, was my chosen organisation to churn out a report for Business Ethics. Vimala Home is a charitable organisation run for the rehabilitation of handicapped girl children, it's run by some sisters with the backing from FCC. Went there as a future-Manager, came back a very humbled human being.

Sr. Paulie was happy to welcome us (me and Rahul) inside the home. I thought maybe they won't allow us to see the children. Maybe that would depress them. How wrong I was. Slowly, one by one, each inmate started coming (dragging their feet behind them) to the visiting room, each one giving a very warm welcome smile to us. I was floored. They made themselves comfortable around the room, women and girls of all ages. The only similarity among them was their special shoes and their special smiles. All of them looked at me as I talked to them as if saying ‘Thank you for coming. You just made our day’. Suddenly I felt very awkward of having normal legs. I wished I were like them or better, they could have been like me.

They showed us what they do whole day….running a small mill which makes ‘Vimala condiments’. They knew Fr. Cyriac who goes there regularly to buy the spices. They showed us how they make ‘host’ - the white small thing served during Sunday service in the church. It is supposed to signify Jesus’ body. Made by these special children, they were very special indeed.

Their days started and ended with prayers. Prayers for a happy life. Thanksgiving prayers to God that said though you didn't give us good legs, you gave us a life. In between these prayers they went about their lives ….cleaning their home, cooking, studying, teaching, stitching, working in the mills, making hosts, sitting and having small fights, watching movies…… ……..being a family together.

Sr. Paulie was more than happy to show us the album of all the children who had stayed there. She knew each one of them and their stories……

"This girl here…she was very naughty. Used to run around all the time."

"And Sona, she could teach a thing or two to S Janaki about singing."

"Moni, smart girl, she is an officer in the Survey department now."

"Meenu, she is married now and has 2 special kids. She had called me yesterday."

I just nodded my head to each of them and was thinking about how it would be for her to be with them all day. A life well spent. Atleast she would be satisfied about what she did in her lifetime. What am I gearing myself for? - trying to increase shareholder value. Suddenly MBA and everything seemed so meaningless. Forgot that I was there to write a report on them, ended up spending around 4 hours with them.

The ride back to college was worse. The choking feeling in my throat was getting worse. This visit reminded me of the visits I had taken to the Mental hospital, the orphanage in tcr……Mary, a social worker, had taken me there and showed me around. Then there was Dream-a-Dream in Bangalore run by my boss’ wife, Mansi. Sr. Paulie and Mansi.....superwomen.
Once I started earning, I had made sure that I did something for these special kids atleast once a month. Last 5 months, someone somewhere would have missed it. Only myself to blame for it.
A bad day for me would be a bad hair day, breakfast without choclate corn flakes, a poorly written quiz, fights with friends, days with less time to sleep, days when I miss the F.R.I.E.N.D.S episode, days of huge traffic jams, days when my Kinetic wouldn't start, days when a crow shits on my starched white kurta, days when my body aches after a wild night of dancing and partying, hangover mornings…………………

But after this, nothing seems to qualify for a bad day anymore.

Have promised Ancy I’ll go meet her again. For me its just a promise. For her it means the promise of a very special day.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

So very right and honest, Priya.

In fact, it is moments like these that really make us think of what we really want to do and whether what we want to do is in fact, going to do anything good for people who deserve and still do not get goodness.

In thought,
Nitai

Girl With Big Eyes said...

u're right.

if atleast some of us realise this, the world would be a better place for everyone.

Kind of made some broad plans. Hope I get to execute them.

James Tond said...

Truly moved by the description, i can surely understand the sense of achievement and satisfaction it must have given u. Kind of jealous of u for the same. Do count me the next time u go to visit Ancy and her friends (one word of advice though please don't use the word inmates for them). Haven't got that same feeling that u have for a long time now.
Rohit

Pranay Rao said...

Priya,
Ur right yaar, we do tend to value the trifles of r life wen we r so damn fortunate. Very touching description. I know ull fulfill ur promise to Ancy. I hope this post inspire me to do somethin nice for some1.
Luv,
Pranay

Anonymous said...

priya,

finally given me a reason to start work on my BE report...

yash

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Feeling good that I could inspire so many people. :)

Mind Curry said...

very touching..i am here via silverine's post..shall dream what i can do in my limited capacity.