Most times I go to meet my story subjects alone. I am usually overwhelmed by the state of the underpriveleged children I meet, proud of their guardians and those Indians, who in a small measure are doing humungous acts....
Through all this, I often think if my children will be able to appreciate the goodness in a human heart (that to my delight, still EXISTS), if they will not get trapped in material pursuits and be able to look at an underpriveleged child with care and love...
On Saturday, I took my children to meet young Pooja whose story I am going to feature in the newspaper. She is 10 and helps her mother run a little tea stall outside Simbiosis College. She has a brilliant mind and wants to study. Her mother wants her to study as well. But she is all her mother has for support to run the tea stall. So she skips school many times.
When I asked her about her father, tears rolled down. "He beats me when I do something wrong or nothing wrong." I give her a hug and tell her that she is brave girl for wanting to go to school despite the problems at home. My daughter watched her and I saw a look of surprise and empathy on her face.
Oorja gave the girl Rs 10. It is money that the tooth fairy had left for her and she has been saving it all up. The girl felt shy but as I encouraged her to buy "pencils etc" with it, she took it. A few minutes later, Oorja gave her another ten rupee note....another one from her savings.
A little while later, she asked me, "Mama, can I give her my hair band?" She was wearing one...and as I said "Yes, if you'd like to," off it came and went to Pooja.
As we drank tea at the stall and chatted, Oorja came to me and whispered, "Can I play with her?" I nodded in assent. Before she could ask Pooja, a deluge of customers converged. Mother and daughter got busy and she did not have the opportunity to ask Pooja to play with her. As I took leave, Oorja requested me, "Please tell her that next time I will come to play with her."
What I witnessed was an eight year old child's desire to reach out to this young girl...somehow...anyhow. The best manner in which she could convey her empathy was to share her prizest possessions with Pooja.
Just as we bade our goodbyes Abhir chipped in with, "We will call her home for my Birthday Party" following in his sister's footsteps.
I am still gleaming with pride.