Today one more dot connected me to my mother. We the club ladies, as part of our yearly projects, gave a cheque to a partially blind couple who are on a mission: in their limited capacity, they have rented two flats that they have turned into a hostel for blind girls from outstation who have arrived in the city to attend schools and colleges. Their magnanimity touches the very core of my being. The poorest, humblest among us have the biggest heart. Out of the fifteen girls they are sponsoring or aiding with food, residence, clothes, travel expenses, education fees, books etc., I found that two of the girls attend my mother’s school – I mean the school for the deaf and the dumb that my mother taught at until the last day of her life. Its forty years exactly since she left. I am no stranger to the blind section of her school where the Thamizh picture ‘Raja Paarvai’ starring Kamal Hassan and Madhavi was filmed in the year 1981. Until 1982, disability was part and parcel of my life. We sisters routinely went to our mother’s catholic convent to attend sports day to annual day. We were there for vacations and when my mother would go there for paper corrections during term holidays. We lit candles in the chapel for Christmas or whenever we went there. There are memories of blind children competing in sack race, running race, lemon and spoon etc. I think I have blogged a lot on this. I wonder what message my mother wants to pass on to me now: i have had three consecutive signs in matter of months that I WILL NOT dismiss as coincidence. I didn’t know that the trust was for the blind girls because I hadn’t browsed our group posts with attention. I don’t want to share the photos I clicked with the girls as I want to protect the privacy of the teenagers who are already at a disadvantage having no eye sight. It felt good interacting with them and with their caretakers. I was almost on the verge of tears. One of the ladies is sending them sanitary napkins every month: now that is rare sensitivity. Normally a selfie person, if there is one place I would rather not, it is when we are helping someone. I hate those pictures but the club is insistent on them. With banners and all. I wish we women spend more time chatting up the beneficiaries trying to know them better. The pleasure was ours not theirs. Which is why whatever I do, I do private and don’t always go through organizations.
This was my very first field visit for a project. In fact second after the one to a home for the aged. Today we had it back to back. Years ago I have visited a hospice that housed destitute women. Government partially funds these managements. The rest they source from sponsors/private benefactors. Of course, this one was run by a Christian charity. If I may: how many Hindus have it in them to engage themselves in selfless service. This is monumental and committed work. Incidentally, my mother’s institution was one of a kind and the very first in the city in those times although now we have many more.
One of the discoveries I have made is that, these charities are finding it difficult to run their day to day affairs. Food sponsors sometimes send hotel food that would not agree with the aged inmates’ health. Clothes are well taken care of. There are those like rentals, staff salary, bills to be paid, medical treatment, hospitalization expenses etc., that cannot be met with the trust funds. The needs are varied and not always rice and lentils. Senior citizens for instance may be waiting for their turn of cataract surgery.
Arriving well before time, I could spend some valuable time with aged abandoned women who had been brought to the home by the police. With no family to go back to, the women said they were fortunate to have found a home away from home. They had great company and good Samaritans took care of them! The blind girls can’t wait to graduate and make it on their own. I guess finally I found the one true positive vibe that sounded meaningful and made real sense.
The blind girls use Whatsapp effectively. They’ re keeping abreast with technology and are very well informed. Got a polite reminder that normal people like us never go through settings that enable non visual posts to be read by the blind. Pleasantly surprised to see the Braille in the reverse of their visiting card. For the first time in my life, I also got to touch and see the actual Braille text books – huge, huge volumes of them. I do intend to go back.
My intention is not to advertise but to merely show what an unfair world we live in. I feel subdued after this evening. I did go for shopping on my return but not without a guilty feeling. I couldn’t dismiss the girls out of my mind. I am satisfied I spent some quality time today with two different age group ladies: one too senior and sick; second lot young and raring to go inspite of their disability. Humbling experience.
It only takes a moment or less for our world to turn upside down. One heart attack. One diagnosis. One phone call. One accident. So what are we waiting for.
Yet another connecting dot to my mother. This was her world. She lived their life. She lived among them. With them. She was a different woman with kindest heart. I am proud she was my mother even if I hardly knew her.