For the past 6 years, come January and my thoughts go to Manu who left us all lost and bewildered on a cold morning in January 2011. I must admit that on that fateful day my feet faltered and I was close to giving up. You see Manu had been the one who showed me the way and thawed my frozen heart. I had been rudderless after the death of my parents and it is Manu who gave me back not only the will to live but to do something to honour their memory.
How can you define the relationship between a ‘well-to-do’ well past middle age woman and a beggar. It would take volumes or just one simple word: love. Yes Manu redefined the word love and gave it a whole new meaning.
It was as if he had circled the same path over and over again for years, in extreme heat and bitter cold to ensure that when I passed by he would be there. And when we met if felt like we had both reached our final destination.
It was for Manu that Project WHY was set up in the quaint street where he had been born and where he ‘lived’. The broken, dishevelled, filthy soul riled by one and all waited patiently for that day in May 2000.
The rest is history. Project WHY was set up and Manu cared for.
For a decade our lives were entwined. Manu trusted me implicitly. He also taught me many lessons. Most of important of all that no life is useless. Had there been no Manu, there might have been no Project WHY.
The other lesson Many taught me was to never say die, no matter how bad things are, there is always light at the end of the road if you are willing to walk the one less travelled. In my toughest moments when everything seemed dark and the urge to throw my hands up was overwhelming, seeing him smile would lift the clouds and make the sun shine again.
He was a gentle soul with a quirky sense of humour. We shared many precious moments, dancing and laughing and many meals too! Spending time with him was a blessing, an intense feeling that all was well and one was safe.
I do not know what saints look like; I think Manu was one, a true child of God.
Project WHY has to continue to honour is memory.
Manu remains safe in my heart.