I write today because I am a liittle perplexed..
When God or whoever else is up there, lands you with a child whom he has put through much emotional and physical pain, a child with both ugly visible and deep seated invisible scars, what does he want you to do..
Ease the physical pain – easily done – deal with the outward problems – easily done too., remove the immediate cause of injury and send them for repair.. and then what next..
Utpal’s presence in my home is far larger than I can fathom; it deals not only with the little problems of a little boy, but with larger issues, many concerning me.. It puts to test all that I stand for, and brings into my home something which till date remained out.. It proves that you do not juggle with two worlds without the risk of having them clash in the most unexpected way.. that you do not render lip service without the risk of it finding its way to your heart.. that in matter of so called ‘charity’, you cannot pontificate without accepting the challenge to act.. when you cannot bask in the kudos without being prepared to vindicate what you stand for in more ways than one
When Utpal lands in your life, you have to go all the way, and all the way is not just a matter of funds and finances and bills paid, but much more.. you enter a one way journey in a land you do not know and cannot imagine.. where you do not know what you may be asked to give up
What was tolerated by those close to you as a twilight years occupation well contained in a slot, suddenly threatens to change things around.. the face that till then sat quietly on a wall frozen in a frame now walks around your home..innocent and trusting.. asking for nothing but needing so much..
I wonder if this is the time when your God and the God of Lesser Ones get together to write a script for you, one you need to play to perfection if you still want to look at yourself in a mirror and not turn away.. a time when you are alone and have to do the right thing, even if the right thing means you having to walk solo..
This is a test of responsibility, one you have to win if you are to retain your self respect and be worthy of the love of others..
So bye bye plans, holidays and all else.. this is a time to prove who you are..to the one who matters..
Note: we are looking for a school for utpal, and we will then need all the support we can get to ensure that his future is secured
I wrote about this syndrome earlier . This syndrome is far more complex than we think. As I watch students agitating against the quota system and being beaten up by policemen I feel more disturbed than ever. I realise that even pwhy sunk into the CZS as it basked in the glory of the 100% result..
But let us take time and think.. what are we doing: perpetuating the hoax played by the government of handing out useless diplomas and certificates which give false hopes and shattered dreams.. if we go back it all began when a cynical school principal dismissed a bunch of class X boys saying that they were gutter rubbish and could never pass their Boards. the hurt on those young faces was sufficient for me to quip back:”I taken on the challenge to make them pass”
A motley crowd they were, in the dead of winter as we started early morning classes on the road side.. not quite believing and yet dreaming the impossible.. well maybe the gods were with us as they all passed.. never mind the marks.. as years went by pwhy was supporting students from class I to XII and they were all passing and thus we began slipping into our Comfort Zone.. in our obsession for the 100% results we forgot much of the essential: building character and good citizens..
The reservation knell brought us back to order.. what was important was to give valid options to our children and show them how to build their future.. and the future was not useless low mark degrees but sound vocational options.. and above all the ability to think for one’s self.. the courage to de different if one thinks one is right..
Hence though we will continue our education support, we have to see that children get at least 50% and those who are not able to do so, should be gently guided towards other options.. options that can also motivate them to think about taking the road back to their habitat of origin.. we need to instill back pride in villages, respect for the environment, teach the children their role as citizens and their duties therein..
That this soul searching should come at a time when we are actually moving is also a welcome fact. It is time we stop losing ourselves in false numbers whether it be the 100% pass mark, or the 500 plus children. What we al pwhy must remember is that even if we have 50 students who can uphold the principles we believe we are winners, and if of the 50, 5 take the road back home with new skills then we are champs!
CZS is dangerous as it is insidious and so subtle that you slip into it quite unaware be it in a personal relationship or in a professional one. It robs you of your creative abilities and makes you forget your real goals as you bask in a false glory.. one has to fight this each day and set out new challenges each day.
We are moving and though our babies ands special kids will have a home, our primary extensions will be out in the field where I hope that not only we teach, but also look for solutions that will benefit the community be it the garbage and the flies, or the non-functional public conveniences..
We are moving out of our comfort zone into…
In one night utpal lost all he had.. he did not have much by our standards but he had a home to go back to, and above all a mother whom he loved with almost illogical passion..
but when was love logical…
Over the last four years Utpal has taught us many things but most of all the meaning of dignified acceptance in the wake of any adversity: from excruciating pain that third degree burns bring, to the abject humiliation you suffer when those you love the most let you down..
Utpal somehow became our brand ambassador and our good luck charm, and epitomised the spirit of pwhy, one that does not give up.. or give in! He has walked into many hearts as he had so much love to share..
Last year when we needed a name for a fishing boat that was to be given to a small village in T Nadu, Utpal is the name we all thought of..
The child was a survivor, and brought hope and love wherever he went.. Little Buddha some called him, Sunshine Boy was what others said..
He loved his mom with rare passion.. I remember when he came home with me, at the strike of 5 pm, he would turn his little face upward and tell me : “mama pass jana hai” – want to go to mama..
Mama was a dark room, often smelling of alcohol and stale food, where he did not know whether he would be beaten or fed.. but mama was also the comfort only a mother can give..the fish and rice she sometimes made, the safety of her lap..
But then last month the father stole from his boss and the police came knocking and slowly his world came crashing.. Whereas moma has taken the first step to recovery and will be away for six months, the father fled with the few belongings they possessed leaving Utpal with nothing but his memories.. In one night Utpal lost all he had..
Today, the little boy whose smile has brought solace to so many, who has a boat named after him that bobs on the high sea bringing joy to many, has nowhere to go.
Utpal needs all of us to stand by him and make sure that he has a bright future..
read about utpal at these links
where is the soap
as the snake waits in the wings
back to his hole
7 days on a planet
there is fish and rice
games adult play
boman, beauman, superman
rarely is love instant
there are no invitation card
smile referred to
all gods angels
braveheart named utpal
He is just four.. or 48 months old.. not a big man.. but a true braveheart.. he just checked his mom into rehab and will not be seeing her for six weeks.. that is the rule..
His mom drinks.. and a woman that drinks is treated with utter disdain in slums where she is the object of snide reamarks, ridicule and abuse by men in search for a drinking companion.. alcohol in slums reminds you of the world of Zola: it is dark and destructive. It feeds itself on school fees, and rent money and leads to petty crime.. Utpal has seen it all.
His tryst with alcohol began when he fell into a boiling pan.. and suffered third degree burns when he was one.. then it was a litany of ugly scenes and beating, and as he grew older the shame and indignity that he could barely express..
His mom did try to fight it as best she could but to no avail.. we tried to help but the addiction was too far gone.. and the temptations many.. then came the last straw when his dad stole money and was hounded by the police night after night..
It was time to put a stop to the nightmare and after much searching we found a centre that had a home programme for women.. Children are intuitive and somehow Utpal felt that the long trip we all took across the city today would change his life… he laughed all the way and his joy was palpable and moving.. we were not prepared for mom signing in, and when she did decide to, to my heart missed a beat.. how would Utpal react.. well we were in for a surprise as he bid farewell to his mom with a smile and walked away his little head held high..
He is with us at home now and the picture you see was taken a short while back.. he knows he is safe but above all he knows his mom is safe..
When little Leila Fodil left her country in 1983 to seek medical care in France, all she and her family must have wished was for her to win her battle againts leukemia. When, in spite of the love and care of her foster family she lost that battle in 1985 , no one would have dreamt that little children her age living thousands of miles away would 21 years later come to know about her and have their own little school because of her!
Sorrow and loss often bring people down, but sometimes get transformed into beautiful acts of generosity and kindness that transcends language, frontiers and lands and gives true meaning to the word humane.
“All God’s angels come to us disguised” said James Russell Lowell. We just have to learn to recognise them.. little Leila Fodil was one such angel. Today pwhy will have a little home for its special children and tiny tots because Leila walked this earth.
As I write these words, I am overwhelmed by the realisation that for the last 6 years, many angels have come our way.. Manu who made pwhy happen and thus transformed the lives of so many, Utpal whose courage and sagacity has helped us walk that extra mile, Nanhe who has by his simple smile ensured that we never give up and help others like him… yes, there have been many angels that have quietly come into our lives and ensured that we set things right for our friend the God of Lesser Ones.. maybe that is his way of functioning in this day and age..
Athiti Dev Bhav (your guest maybe God) has now become a jaded tourism pitch, but if we look beyond the apparent meaning, this simple statement says it all.. angels will not wear wings or halos, they will drop by anytime and in unexpected ways.. Manu lived for many years shunned by all, yet no one would have thought that he would be the instrument for changing so many lives, Nanhe’s pain seems so unfair and yet his smile is the one that brought so many people together.. and the list goes on, in the aftermath of Leila’s loss, no one would have thought of all the smiles that would light up little faces the world over one day..!
Angel’s of our times are difficult of recognise.. it all goes back to looking with your heart as said the Fox to the little Prince . as more than creating miracles, they make you understand and rediscover yourself !
Planet why is blessed as it is a place where angels do not fear to tread!