Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A visit to an Orphanage

I have been having busy days…some would say “for a change” and I would not deny it. Work is peaceful n I am happy that ways…well who wouldn’t be. Yesterday, 23rd Jan 2007 was a hard day too. During later part of the evening we were reminded that we are visiting a local orphanage managed by mother Teresa organization. Everybody had to meet at Vile Parle station at 10:30. That means I would have to leave my home by 9 if I plan to catch a bus and by 9:30 if I decide to go by train. That meant I had to get up early. Not a very exciting idea if I get to sleep post 12 in the night. Still, I set up the alarm n went to sleep.

At 7 my alarm rang and I grumbled n turned n switched it off deciding to sleep for another 5 mins n then get up and get ready for the visit. I ended up sleeping for nearly 2 hours n I got up when my maid rang the bell. Looking at the watch I realized I was too late to go now, I let my maid in and went to sleep again. I couldn’t sleep. I had made a promise and I better keep up. I rushed from one activity to another, nearly colliding with my maid while brushing my teeth then rushing to have bath, getting dressed, drinking a mug full of milk (yeah its necessary to finish that milk in our house) , combing my hair with Rashmi’s comb coz I cant find my comb which is right in front of me while munching on fruit which was cut by Sonali in the morning( God bless her!!) , I finally managed to reach Vidhya Vihar station by 9:30 only to see a line long enough to give a heart attack to strongest of heart! I decided to cross over to the other side and buy the ticket from there. Luckily, I didn’t find any line over there. Don’t ask me why. I have only one answer…its Mumbai! Finally, with the prized ticket tucked inside my pocket, I got ready for another fight. Traveling in Mumbai train in morning towards Dadar! Those who are not aware of Mumbai local crowd scene…just keep one thing in mine…it takes nerves of Titanium to travel in peak time in Mumbai local. I reached platform all ready to fight n get in. I cursed myself for getting up late n missing out the option of bus. The train which came on the platform was nearly empty. I just couldn’t believe my luck. I just kept staring at the empty train out of shock. Suddenly, a push from lady all eager to get inside the train made me realize that if I will keep staring at this train…I’ll probably end up cursing myself all my life. I jumped inside the train, got a seat, plugged my ipod into my ears n started the journey to the lesser known.

The music had cut me from the outside noise and I wondered off into my own world. I was little scared to meet kids as I not a very good with kids. Will they accept me? Will they play with me? Such questions kept floating inside my mind. I got down at Dadar, went to the western line n climbed into another train for Vile Parle. Will the kids cry when they would look at me? Am I dressed properly to meet kids? I reached my destination after traveling for nearly an hour. I was joined by Hakim (pheww…I had someone along with me) at the station and we together walked towards the meeting point that we had decided. There I met Abhilasha and Seema. In few minutes we were joined by Ankur, Savio Gomes, Savina, Lokesh and Savio DeSouza.

The moment I entered the campus, the whole environment changed. The air was peaceful as if not to disturb little kids. There was pin drop silence which reminded me of my school as a kid. The moment I entered, I felt something missing. Where are the kids? We were showed to a room where the infants were being fed their breakfast. Kids were picked up, their clothes were changed, and they were fed a spoon at a time with boiled rice and dal and placed back careful in the pram. None of the kids were more than a year old. These kids were left mercilessly by their parents on streets of Mumbai. Some were left behind because they were girls and some because they were pre mature and some because they suffered from some terminal disease. I think only a human parent can think of abandoning their child because it’s of no use to them, no other mammal does that. Some where sleeping peacefully and some of them were hyper active attracting everyone’s attention. I tried to pick one in my arms and suddenly a maid taking care of another kid scolded me – “Don’t do that. Keep back the kid. You are not supposed to pick up kids”. I felt embarrassed of not being aware of such a simple thing. They don’t want the kids to get attached to you.

We went to another room, where some older kids were being fed breakfast. Felt like a kinder garden class where my mom used to teach. Only difference is these kids don’t have parents who are waiting for them outside the door of the room. A kid came and clinched to me and I didn’t know what to do. I saw both the Savio playing with kids, running around and talking to them as if these kids were their best buddies. I bent down to see if the kid clinching on to me wanted something from me. He looked at me and hugged me tight and suddenly it became hard for me to control my tears. It was then I realized that these kids ask for nothing but just a human touch. They have might have second hand clothes to cover their bodies and food to fill up their stomach but who would fill up they emotional hunger? By hugging that kid back, I gave a minute of happiness to someone. He might not remember me but I will always remember those big clear eyes and his smile. I felt my fear of kids melting away. I saw smiling faces all around me and my face lit up too. I didn’t give chocolates or toys to these kids but by just being there and playing with them…I never knew it was so easy to spread happiness.

I suddenly felt so lucky to be a part of the world where I know who my parents are. I am lucky that my parents didn’t abandon me for being a girl. I am lucky my parents gave me same opportunity as they would have given to a boy child. I am lucky because I was given whatever I desired in life by my parents. I guess I always took my parents for granted! I hope I am not too late in saying this – I am really thankful to you mom and dad for all that you did for me. I know I have not been a perfect daughter but today I realized what a BIG fool I was. Love you Mom & Dad…