If I ever saw an angel, it was in your eyes. You’ve touched my life like an angel… Thanks for being there for me!
Four years back a little angel dropped into my existence. True that he was scalded and scorched and did not look very pretty but his incredible eyes were truly seraphic and in spite of the searing pain they held a message of love, hope and faith. I somehow knew he was blessed.
That day Utpal walked into my existence and life was never the same again. Miracles started coming our way and problems seemed to vanish as fast as they came. Project why grew in leaps and bounds at an astounding pace that left us all puzzled and stunned. Angels appeared from nowhere and nothing seemed impossible.
As I sit in the very first hours of this New Year crafting seemingly impossible dreams I can feel his presence and know that these dreams will come true. What I seek today is a way to make all the little dreams that the God of Lesser being has left in my custody come true and even if what we seek has a staggering number of figures, they pale in the wake of what they would actually yield: smiles on faces that had forgotten to smile, hope in hearts where there was only despair, shelter to those who live in constant fear and above all a tomorrow for those whose today has died.
Planet why has to become a reality and I know that a little angel is at work to make it happen.
Utpal is also a little boy just like others and today as a special treat he goes to see Hanuman returns with his pal Kiran and his ageing Maam’ji before he returns to his boarding school.
Xmas was celebrated in earnest at the women centre. There was a tree, streamers, stars and bells, pictures of Santa drawn by the kids and much merriment. There was home baked Xmas cake and presents for all.
Sophie who had planned the party made a little speech explaining what Xmas was and how it was celebrated y children in our country. I was designated to translate and began by asking the kids whether they knew what Xmas was. Most of the children at the women centre belong to poor Muslim families and rarely go beyond the streets of Madanpur Khader where shops are not decorated for Xmas and do not sell Xmas ware and hence the answer to my query was a barely audible no accompanied y a vigorous shaking of the head!
Links had to be made so I asked about Eid and then Diwali and everyone nodded and smiled and went on to say that Xmas was just like those days for people who went to church instead of temples and mosques, all homes of God. When I asked what kids ate on Eid and Diwali, pat came the answer: ladoos and sewaiyan, so cake it was for Xmas and the link was made. Xmas became something familiar and comprehensible: it was simply a matter of replacing cakes with ladoos or sewaiyan!
In many schools across our city where English is taught children are often heard singing the following prayer:
Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.
Strangely this prayer transcends all religion and faith, all social and economic barriers. Schools in remote corners of the city which boast of a sign board stating English medium have their children reciting these verse often led by a teacher who can barely articulate the words. I must confess that in our creche it is also sung with great fervour even if it sometimes difficult to differentiate the words!
I have heard it over and over again as I walk up or down the stairs of our centre but it was only yesterday evening when I was looking at the pictures of our Xmas party that the familiar tunes came to my mind as I saw the snapshot of Manu eating his meal sitting at a table and using a spoon!
My mind flashed back to the summer of 2000 when I had first seen Manu and to the words I had first written about him: Manu, a young physically and mentally challenged young man lived on the street, neglected, dirty and soiled. People would feed him but like you feed an animal. Children threw stones at him. His family abused him in all conceivable ways. No one touched him, when things became too much he would let out the most heart wrenching cries.
In many ways those cries seeded what was to become project why as we all know it now. And as I looked at the photograph of Manu sitting at a table with his friends and teachers enjoying his meal I whispered the little prayer as it conveyed what I truly felt…
Yes God thank you for everything…
It was party time at project why and everyone was busy sprucing up their dancing shoes and rehearsing the latest moves. Even little Komal who has just learnt to stand did not want to be left out!
This year we were truly privileged as we had not one but two parties. One at the women centre organised by our wonderful volunteer Sophie, and the other a gift of our very special supporter young Dhaniya who has always given us this special moment.
For the women centre it was their first party ever and everyone was a little nervous, a tad tense as they spent a whole week in preparation: shopping, planning, more shopping, trimming the tree, wrapping gifts. Children were busy making decorations that were then hung all over the centre. Finally the 25th dawned and the excitement was palpable. Everyone turned up ahead of time, even the guests! The party was a huge success as the sound of carols filled the space infusing it with the true spirit of Xmas and it did not really matter if most of the kids had never heard of this festival, they all knew it was special and blessed. After tucking in cake and hot samosas the children left clutching their little packs with huge smiles on their faces and a song on their heart.
I urge you to look at these pictures so that you too can share the magic of this moment
The next day we had our project why annual bash one that is now almost tradition thanks to a lovely little girl who lives in another land but who has always given this very special treat to her pwhy friends. When the first such party was planned we asked the children what they would like to have: pat came the answer a DJ and a coffee machine. So there was a DJ and a coffee machine and the children had a ball! Rinky and Saheeda who cannot hear danced with gay abandon and little Komal all of 18 months old put p a mean performance that could match any item girl! Kids enjoyed a nice meal and then it was time to leave.
My thoughts went to our host of the night, a little girl who lives in another land but who each year gives a bunch of children of a lesser God a moment of pure unadulterated joy. I hope that one day she too will be here with us sharing this incredible experience.
Share some moments with us
Nanhe is back. After a long break.. a few months actually. Nanhe is back after long negotiations with his mom as often the battles with moms are arduous and foregone as it is almost impossible to deal with the passion and lack of logic of a mom’s love for her child.
This time the adversary was some new therapy that has taken Delhi’s slums by storm: a electronic massage gadget that claims to cure all ailments from cancer to back pain or even toothache. It comes at a cost but that cannot deter a mom’s determination. She has each day managed the needed amount and taken her child convinced that he is better and can stand on his own. Desperate moms see things we cannot.
A deal was struck. Nanhe would come to pwhy in the morning and we would ensure that he is dropped back in time for his treatment. So Nanhe and his larger than life smile walked into the class to every one’s delight. And I watched in wonder this lovely boy who is in many ways a miracle child.