Dear to us are those who love us. . . but dearer are those who reject us as unworthy, for they add another life; they build a heaven before us whereof we had not dreamed, and thereby supply to us new powers out of the recesses of the spirit . . .
Ralph Waldo Emerson
These words reverberated in my mind this morning. Wonder why? Perhaps because the last week has been one of rejections. If you look for the word reject in the dictionary you come across this definition: dismiss as inadequate, inappropriate or not to one’s taste.
It is easy to reject and people do it with ease. Special kids are not a worthy cause to defend, a carefully crafted dream is not to one’s taste; ten years of a labour of love are inappropriate in a world where everything is coloured in dividends and returns; dreams and aspirations are inadequate as they remain intangible in our materialistic times. Today what is sought are quick and visible results.
I concede to the fact that in the world we have nurtured for almost a decade now, things take time and may seem elusive at first. A child who can barely hold her head at 5 needs years to walk her first step; one who cannot hear or speak has to muster strength from unknown depths to mouth her first intelligible sound; and the being rejected and scorned for years needs time to trust another again. But when they do walk, speak or trust it is nothing short of a miracle, one that was worth waiting for.
It is also true that the ones we fondly call our
special kids, often do not make a pretty picture. It is also true that no matter how much or how well they learn they will never be able to compete with their peers who are aid to be normal. True again that they are not a wise or sound investment. We simply cast them aside with a string of harsh or politically correct names: disabled, handicapped, challenged, differently abled.
If you have ever set your doubts and apprehensions aside and cared to enter the world of these wonderful beings, you will soon see that the above attributes better describe us than them. They accept you with open hearts and huge smiles and without any judgment. They open their world to you without restrain. They are grateful fro whatever you give them and expect no more. But that is not all. They have a secret mission, one that maybe even they are not aware of: they compel you to look at yourself with honesty and courage. The moment you have dared to look into their eyes be prepared for a journey to the depth of your soul.
As a friend once told me, special kids are Angels sent to earth to show us what we truly are capable of. So blessed are the ones who are given the opportunity to care for such souls. They give us the courage to walk that extra mile, grit to carry on in the face of all adversities till we reach our goal and realise our dreams.
So as the rejections come our way, we need to see them as a boon and be grateful to those who cast them as they alone will give us the impetus needed to defend the causes we hold dear to us and build dreams no matter how impossible they seem.
Yes dear to us are those who love us. . . but dearer are those who reject us as unworthy,
A mail dropped by. It was from a dear friend, one of the few who look with their hearts and walk that extra mile for to save dreams, particularly those conjured by others. At this moment of time he is busy saving mine. A dream that began almost a decade ago with a chance encounter between a middle aged woman and a street beggar.
The plight of that young soul confined in a useless body and a fractured mind pilloried by all perturbed the woman for many nights. Somehow she knew that she had to do something, something larger than throwing a few coins his way. And thus the dream began. The dream of giving Manu a life!
Henry Thoreau said: If you build castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. Yes, thinking of giving Manu a life, one where he could have a warm bed to sleep in and friends to laugh with and share a meal with was indeed a chimera.
My mind goes back to the first meal shared with Manu. He was still encrusted with years of dirt and abuse. We had given him a plate of dal and some rotis . He sat on a stool eating them quietly. A while later he looked up and smiled at me and offered me a piece of roti dipped in dal. I sat next him and ate. Maybe that was when the foundation was laid.
Years have passed. Manu has friends and spends the day at pwhy. He even goes to birthday parties where he shares a treat with his pals The foundation has got stronger. But Manu still does not have a bed to sleep in and a place to call his own. The foundation is still not finished. The dream will be truly fulfilled with planet why.
You can share some of the moments of the birthday party here
How I wish I had 10/20 lakhs to spare if not the whole 80! These heartwarming words dropped into my mailbox shortly after my appeal for help. They may seem anodyne to some, empty to others, and to yet others as futile as the famed if wishes were horses.. But to me these simple words are the expression of the immense love and unstinted trust that have come our way since the day we took our first hesitant step on the journey called project why and has made our every wish a reality.
Our steps grew bolder, our dreams larger and each one was backed by a wonderful network of people who saw with their hearts and never turned their back on us. Hearts were mended, hopes fulfilled and new ones crafted, and challenges accepted with new found conviction as there was always someone out there who came forward and embraced them with us.
And along the way came the ultimate dream: planet why, one that would make us come full circle and above all provide a befitting finale to my swan song. It was a dream I started sharing with all those who had made pwhy possible, hesitantly at first but as days went by with more confidence and even temerity.
Today the dream seems a reality within our reach. True that some minor hiccups came our way, but none big enough to make us stop, let alone lose faith. Once again I have been overwhelmed by the spontaneous offers of help that have come our way. True that they may seem small or even insignificant when viewed against the target we have to meet but that is only if you look at them with your eyes. When you look with your heart, each one of them is priceless.
Some have offered whatever they could spare, others have proffered words of support and encouragement that infuse us with the strength to go on. A publisher friend offered us a 50% of sale profits of books sold to pwhy supporters and donors. Many have donned their thinking caps and are brainstorming about ways to raise money. Across the world, a bevy of project why supporters are at work to make planet why come true.
The baffling judgement pronounced by a local court yesterday reinforced once again the vulnerability of children in India. A little girl allegedly raped by her own father was sent back to live with him as the man was acquitted because the key witnesses (her mother and sister) turned hostile.
At the time of the rape she was 4, today she is 7. I cannot begin to think what goes on in her tiny mind and am at a loss to picture the consequences that this will have on her tomorrows. This tender soul has been raped not only by her father but by all those she could trust, her mother, her sister and above all the entire system ostensibly created to protect her: society with all its trimmings: police, legal system and what not.
What is galling and frightening are the words pronounced by the judge: The acquittal in thiscase is painful as a blossoming child is alleged to have been ravished by her own father. But unfortunately her mother and sister turned hostile. But what is disturbing apart from the acquittal is the fact that the victim may have to live under the same roof and in the same hands of the accused.
Is justice blind to this point?
Even if one was to play Devil’s Advocate there is not much one could proffer. The mother was vulnerable in a society that is ruthless to one who dares go against her husband. The sister had no option but say what she was told to. The mother alone could not have brought up the children alone. The judge had to go by the book and so on.
And in all this the little child was forgotten and had no one to stand by her and protect her. My mind goes back to one of our students who had been raped by a neighbour when she was 4. The man was caught, did a stint in jail and came out an resumed his life. The girl grew up and became a teenager but her past followed her: she was branded a bad girl and no one talked or played with her as she had once had been raped, never mind if she was barely 4 at the time.
My heart goes out to this little child whose childhood has been ravished and who stands helpless and alone.
It is with the spirit of the soldiers of the Light Brigade that we have set out to raise the funds needed to secure the piece of land that came our way almost by miracle. When we began this daunting task we were needless to say petrified. This was way out of league. But two days later we find ourselves armed with newfound confidence as the 10 lacs needed to buy us two months of reprieve landed our way not as a loan, but as a donation from two wonderful souls that have always been there for us.
We now need to raise the remaining money. Easier said than done. But one look at the kids in the picture is enough to fuel us with determination and courage. To many the picture may seem innocuous, just a bunch of kids enjoying a picnic. Let me unravel the reality that lies behind. Most of these children are what is in our day and age called differently abled. Preeti who sits on the table walks on her hands, Sapna sitting in front is 12 though she looks 5. Champa whose smile is larger than life was abused, Ruchi will soon be unable to walk as she suffers from a debilitating neurological syndrome.. the list is endless each child in this picture has a future in jeopardy, held by a tenuous link: the life span of a mother. Oops I forgot there are two little girls in the picture who are wat one says in common parlance normal. Yashu who has been celebrating her birthdays for now five years with hers special pals, and Kiran who has known them since she was a baby.
Yesterday was Yashu’s birthday and our special kids had a day out at Dilli Hath. Like regular kids they played, blew candles, sang, ate cake and got return gifts. They too had bought their gift: beautiful cards they had made with love and care.
Most of these kids will grow up and one day become differently abled adults.. While differently abled kids are cute, adults are not. They become the butt of ridicule and are often derided and pilloried. It is a sad and harsh reality that often after the death of their parents, such children are rejected by heir won families. That is what happened to Manu who in spite of having a family was left to roam the streets and beg. Planet Why is for each one of them, as they grow old and lose all hope. It is to ensure that they live with dignity, surrounded by love and care and tended to till they move on.
We have 70 days to make this come true. Not much time but when one looks at these wonderful children one knows that we have to do it, come what may.