It was on January 7th, 2011 that Manu left us. I guess he had completed what he was sent out to do leaving many questions unanswered. I have often tried to understand what this saintly soul meant to me but know deep in my heart that I still have a long way to go till I fully comprehend the reason of our meeting as only a God of some kind could have engineered this unbelievable tryst between a beggar and a lost ageing woman. The only thing I can say with confidence is that it changed both out lives forever and that the equation in this case was not what many would think. When beggar meets well to do woman, one would tend to think that the beggar is the beneficiary. But this is not the way it happened with Manu. I know for certain that he gave me much more than he ever took. And what is more is that he is still giving abundantly at every crossroad of my life. In return, what he got from me is paltry and tangible: food, shelter, clothes, a bed and even the ample love he got cannot match what he gave me.

You may wonder what a beggar can ever give to someone who many think was born with a silver spoon in her mouth? What if I told you he gave me a reason to live and made me discover who I really am. Manu came into my life when I was rudderless and unable to pick up the pieces of my life that had been scattered the day I lost my father. His deafening cries that no one had heard pierced the armour I had built to protect myself from a life I was unable to find my way in after the loss of the ones who had always steered me in the right direction. It was Manu who stirred my soul and made me realise that I had a life beyond my parents and helped me take my first faltering steps in this new world.

Manu was a child of God, one who had been sent with a mission to fulfil. He was and is the living proof that no soul, however wretched it may appear is useless. Every life has a purpose. If not for him project why would not have seen the light of day. His life changed the life of thousands of other souls, big and small.

When Manu left I was shattered. At first I thought that it was an ominous sign that somehow meant the end of project why but mercifully I was quick to realise that a pure soul like him could never bring grief or destruction. There had to be a deeper meaning, and again I knew deep inside me that it was not because he had given up on life. The child of God who had bravely lived years in the most horrific conditions till that fateful day in May 2000 would and could not quit without reason. There had to be a deeper meaning in his passing and it was for me to unravel it.

I have been doing just that for the past 3 years but do not think I have been fully able to do so. At first I thought that his demise was a sign that Planet Why was not to be as it had been primarily conceived for him. I took some time and gave up the idea but still could not find the peace I sought. I then started thinking of the alternatives but groped in the dark as none of the numerous ideas that came my way bore any results. I knew that I had to carry on the search but also felt that there was more to Manu’s lessons than just project why.

In July 2013 I had to face the greatest and scariest challenge of my life: my husband’s cancer. I could have completely broken down and was at the verge of doing so when I felt an inner strength yet undiscovered filling me with a reassuring warmth and somehow I knew that no matter what the outcome would be, I would come out a winner.

Today as I write these words to honour the one who gave me so much, I know that it is Manu’s incredible spirit that has enabled me to go through this dark period with a smile. He is the one who surreptitiously taught me that one can smile through any adversity just as he did all his life.

As I continue walking the twilight of my life, I know he walks with me and will till the very end.