I had to share this picture. It is my fleeting moment of glory as Dear Popples still sits proudly amongst giants valiantly battling for an elusive yet coveted prize. I do not know whether Dear P will be a David but the fact that it got here is already praiseworthy. Pardon my audacity as I sing my own praise and allow me just for this short instant to blow my own bugle.
Dear P was written because I wanted to share the story of how a little boy could tranform so many lives. It was written because I wanted all to know that miracles happen and they happen without much ado. All you need is to look with your heart. Dear P was written to tell all who would hear that no life is too hopeless to be saved, and that it is within each one of us to reach out and help another.
I do hope this fleeting moment of glory results in many of you picking up Dear P and reading it and you will discover the magic of life in its purest form.
I would like to share with you the preface of the book:
There is a time in life when you feel a strange emptiness, as if all that you had done or experienced till then has come to a close. It may happen in an instant, often after a tragic event, or it may seep in slowly, in bits and pieces, each leaving you a little disoriented, a tad empty till you are faced with a huge vacuum that threatens to devour you.
When you come to realise that you have travelled as much as you possibly could, felt every emotion from pure rapture to abject misery, done more than one would have expected, lost many battles and won a few and lived your life to its fullest, setting impossible goals that you have met with a measure of success, played the diverse roles scripted for you with a fair amount of kudos and your share of catcalls, it is time to stop and set out on a new journey.
A yet unformulated and hence unanswered question springs in your mind: what is the true meaning of life and how best does one live it? It is time to seek life’s bare bones and to extract its essence. And what comes about is steeped in simple truths that transcend the barriers of space and time.
In my effort to share these, I struggled with many options but each fell short in some manner or the other till I stumbled upon the idea of addressing them to a little child who acted as a catalyst in my life.
We often shy from revealing our bare self when our interlocutor is someone who has the skills and ability to react and hence sit in judgment. At those times truth gets clouded; we find it necessary to add ‘meat’ so as to make ourselves more likeable, more erudite and in doing so the raw nature of what we need to say gets lost forever and what remains is a sated life philosophy, propounded by one too many.
When you take the decision to travel inwards, to lands yet unknown and unexplored, you are surprised to stumble on a world replete with simple elemental realities and, when you craft them together you are faced with a wondrous wisdom, the wisdom of twilight years when you are through with explaining, emulating, fighting, bending backwards, proving the exact opposite of what truly is. That is when you are ready to fall in love for the last time: with life itself.
Dear Popples, is the sum and substance of my life, the quest for twilight wisdom: a simple love story.
Remember Nandini? The young girl with a hole in our heart, a hole that could not be fixed because she was too old. The one who wants to be a doctor? The brave little girl was in town for a check up and dropped by project why to see us. She is now in class VIII and doing well in spite of her heart condition.
Nandini is your matter of fact girl, one who can talk about her medical condition without fear or emotion. She told us that her blood pressure was low and that she was given some new medication that she had to take for a year till she came back for her next check up. She barely talked about her health as if it was of no consequence. She showed me all her school reports and once again I was impressed by her performance and by the quality of education imparted in a small town in much maligned Bihar. She had also brought her bills and receipts as we had promised to help her complete her schooling. I was again impressed her efficiency.
Nandini is the kind of child you want to help. Her quiet determination and will to succeed is touching. It is almost as if she felt that time is too short for useless banter and niceties. There is a task at hand: that of making adream come true, the dream of a child with a hole in her heart who wants to be doctor!
Dear Popples has been nominated for the Golden Quill awards were the words that greeted me yesterday morning when I woke up and found an SMS from my editor. I must be dreaming was my first reaction. But it was no dream. or was it just that: a dream come true, one that I needed to take time to savour. I must confess that I spent the day on cloud nine.
Dear Popples was written at a time when I was facing a dilemma and somewhat hurting. I needed to once again believe in all that was good and beautiful. And what better way to do it than to share the story of a little boy whose laugh made a half centenarian smile again, a little boy who whips up miracles in a trice and makes even ugly things look attractive. A real life story that makes you believe that life is worth living no matter how bad it may seem.
When Dear Popples was published I was frightened and shaky, but soon reactions and reviews started pouring in and I was touched and humbled. The book had touched others just as Popples had touched me. I had written it as an ode to hope and it had touched a chord in many. I was fulfilled. To see it today standing proudly among other books written by known authors is a matter of joy and pride. It proves that no matter how cynical our world looks, it still has place for simple stories that extol old fashion values.
For me it is little Popples and his friend Godji brewing yet another miracle.
In Valencia a little town in Spain live three wonderful people: Andy, Irene and Mike. Andy and Irene are old friends. They came some time back and spent a few days at pwhy and helped us build a brand new floor for our Okhla project! I guess they got touched by what I call the magic of project why as form that day onwards they have always been there for us. Running a race or sending regular mails filled with words of support and hope, Irene and Andy have taken us to heir hearts. A few days back Irene wrote tehse simple words: I’ve just read your post on the web site – surviving on promises. Every time I visit the PWhy site, I wish I was rich and could help you more, but I’m not so I just continue to do what I can.
And they did just that: convinced their good friend Mike who runs the sale where Irene and Andy run the book stall to support project why! This morning when I opened my inbox there was a warm mail that simply said: We had a wonderful time spreading the Project Why message this morning. One of our neighbours has promised to circulate details to everybody in her email address book, and another has donated four boxes of books, CDs etc for our August stall, so as you can see, PWhy is reaching out into the Valencian community.
Whenever I am down and out and wonder how pwhy will survive, there always comes what I call a message from God. Irene’s mail was just that: a blessed missive reminding me that I cannot give up as pwhy is not just another organisation, it is one that has been woven with threads of love and hope by people who feel for it and want it to live. True the road may sometimes look difficult but it is the one less travelled, the one I have and will always walk as it is filled with exciting surprises and wonderful people like Irene, Andy and Mike.
God bless them all.
Rinky is one of our oldest students. This beautiful and extremely talented hearing impaired girl is one of a kind. She is a fully trained beautician and works part time in a local beauty parlour. While with us she also took sewing classes and tailoring classes.
For some time now she has been asking us to give her a sewing machine so that she can supplement her earnings by stitching clothes for others. Last week a dear friend presented her with a brand new machine and Rinky was on cloud nine. Her dream had come true!
In our land, sadly, hearing impaired children are treated as handicapped and often cannot accede to any formal education or training. Yet if given a chance they surpass themselves and even others. We saw the same spark in Saheeda who sadly left us for a better world and little Pooja will also follow the same path. With just a little help and oodles of love these children of a lesser God amaze everyone. You just have to believe in them and help them grow new wings.