Friday, October 27, 2006


For the last two or three years, we have a written ground rule at home. On every important personal occasion, be it birthdays, anniversaries, parents' day of eternal departure, diwali, holi, christmas, new year and sometimes created occasions like new job, new car etc. etc. we all plan a little party for an identified set of people and visit them with our goodie bags - more often than not eats - butter & bun, cakes, biscuits, toffees, fruit, frooti........whatever our moment of inspiration guides and goades us on.

This Diwali was no diiferent but a little more special. As this year, our magic number reached an auspicious figure with a resolution to multiply it further on the next available opportunity. I, with my team of lieutenants, set about planning and executing the task of making this Festival of Lights slightly more bright for three sets of people.

Diwali morning started with getting together on the Dining table and assembling the packs diligently. Armed with our parcels, we first went to our favourite place - a respected institution that caters to mentally unstable and polio afflicted children. Our reward was the animated greetings and smiles on the faces of these children of the lesser god.

The next halt was a Jhuggi cluster of contractual labour laid off by the contractor on account of the work having been temporarily stalled. We weren't quite prepared for what followed next. Clamouring arms reaching out for our faces, pulling at our ears, hair whatever; imploring eyes; pitiable cries and a riotous behaviour to get the better of the other child............. something that we had perhaps seen on TV but had never experienced ourselves. For the next such trip, we are already planning on getting ourselves better organised in order to organise our dole better.

The third set was quite an unlikely one but I certainly felt deserving. It was a bunch of rickshaw pullers. And charity, I believe, also depends on the eye of the giver. Lean frames toiling away through the day, facing rash driving and rude drivers and those driven by them, only to earn a paltry sum at the end of the day and to return to a family that reminds them of their BOPL state every waking moment........I thought they were deserving. And as I saw them opening the packs to munch on tuck, perhaps, better than what they normally eat, I was convinced to feel that my choice was not misplaced.

The last one on the line was a true eye opener. As he stood with his auto rickshaw amidst the lowly rickshaw pullers, definitely a lot beneath his social standing, he first looked away as he saw us hesitating. After a bit of deliberation, as we reversed back to where he was, he with great difficulty managed to establish an eye contact and murmur something of a yes in answer to our question about whether he would be OK with taking the pack. Our reward once again... a glint in his grateful eye and a polished thank you out of his lips................

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