Thursday, August 15, 2013


The main  gates of the building were open ,not as usual. After crossing the small garden we knocked on the door. A frail girl opened the door and allowed us to go inside. We climbed up the stairs which had pictures of Jesus Christ and Mother Teresa on the side walls. On ascending the first floor they were there. Five kids with biscuits in their hands. All of them were toddlers. Their eyes twinkled with surprise as they saw us. We sat there in the verandah and soon one of them started to cry. Quickly my friend took the baby in her arms. The baby stopped crying as if mollified by the foreign human touch. The other kids as if jealous followed suit and started to cry. With their heads shaven,dressed in tiny shirts and shorts all of them looked the same.We asked the caretaker the baby’s name as we couldn’t make out if the baby was a girl or a boy. The baby’s name was Rahul.
       We enquired the  whereabouts of the other kids of the orphanage . The caretaker told us that the rest had been taken to witness the flag hoisting in the nearby old age home. I was reminded of the last time we had gone to that same Old age home. A year back a group of friends had thought of doing something productive during weekends. When we had stepped inside the old age home, I was clear I couldn’t volunteer there. The suffering was impalpable and I became aware of my limitation as a humanist. There were some 100 old men and women suffering from Alzheimer ,other ailments and the rest were homeless. That was a sight I had never seen.
  Now,the caretaker  ushered me into the inside rooms that housed cots in which the tiny ones,who were younger than 1 year  slept. She  asked me to help her handle the bottle of milk . In one of those cots something caught my sight. There was a tiny white wrap. The help told me that the baby was merely 2 weeks old.That baby had been left back by the father soon after the mother died during delivery. My friend who had come to the place for the first time was moved and very close to tears.  
    Just then we heard sounds of happy feet clambering up the stairs.The flag hoisting was over  and the sisters were bringing the rest of the kids back . The sisters gave us a smile and asked the other helps to get the kids ready for brunch. At the verandah a diet chart was displayed and it was time for their porridge. The sisters called out names of the  30 kids and started feeding them as it was a quotidian activity for them. We kept watching in awe as each one was being fed. 

  Thousand thoughts floated in my mind.
Do the kids get enough food?  Can an individual really make a difference to a nation? What can India do to reduce the poor –rich disparity ? Isn’t  human population really at tipping point? Is Malthusian Economics really true?  Should philanthropy just be a time pass activity?  Why has the Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charities been charged with conversion?Will media ever stop questioning? Is perfection possible? In this world of globalization do national boundaries matter? Is Independence day to be celebrated with tokenism of flag hoisting? What made me visit the place?What if I had not come here and was cozing in the comfortable pages of my books? Or do I simply come here to assuage my guilt?  Is it only on a national holiday that my conscience suffers a jolt?
  Breaking my thoughtful glare,the sister declared: "Its time for the kids to take their afternoon nap. Please keep coming for they have no one. They just like the human touch."

I silently leave and make no promises.

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