Thursday, August 22, 2013

So when the last time you helped change a life ?

He was always greatly interested in finding out how he could help folks. Free , on retirement, of the pressures of a daily job, he would enjoy many field trips to places , where there were issues of forestation, water, health etc, and thanks to his lifelong practice of active yoga,  he would confound people by travelling in crowded trains and trekking around , even as he approached his middle eighties.

His wife had passed away earlier, he was getting hard of hearing, and a lot of time was spent in meeting folks who called and came to him for advice on ayurveda, education, and meditation, all his favourite topics. He wrote extensively, and published 3 books. Never one to involve himself in too many material household things( even when his wife was alive) ,  he started giving away stuff from the house with a vengeance.  Some unscrupolous types took advantage of this , and would write fake letters to him asking for help, and he would meet them, sympathize,  and they would return home with some help in cash and kind. 

What this actually masked, is the various issues he helped address on his travels, and visits to places  where some kind of socially relevant work projects were being done. He had a constant exchange of letters happening with many organizations, whom he donated to. Sometimes it was for books and furniture for the village library at his native place in the Kokan, to allow students to come and study there.  Sometimes it was for someone who wanted to get saplings to green a greatly eroded land. Many times, it was for orgnizations that worked in the field of women's upliftment, devdasis,   and maternal and child health, in the internal areas of the country.

Somewhere as he approached 90, strangley for a person who wrote so much by hand, he became so anti-paper, that he went through paper cutting stage,  where he just trashed all kinds of paper to pieces, destroying important documents in the process.  His body called it a day, the mind did not, he became bedridden, and yet continued his various communications. His daughter, who was his caregiver, would now often deal with folks with different persuasions. Some who thought they could still tell fake stories and get help, and some, who were genuinely concerned for him and kept in touch . By and by , she learnt to separate the wheat from the chaff, as he slowly retired into his own wilful world, and often forgot family folks, and spoke of imaginary events.  

Many months later, he passed away on a winter night which had unseasonal showers. His daughter was by his bedside. 

She spent a few days in the empty house , now almost devoid of any kind of paper , with the exception of old books, which he left untouched. Even the family photo albums didnt escape his wrath. The entire thing, to her, was a learning experience , in how a mind and body copes with old age, in the modern age.  It was like he had shredded all the memories, and closed the door with a bang, before he left.

Many months later , she was sorting out the papers, and letters that came pouring in .   Letters received from various folks after they heard about his demise, and she was trying to respond to them.

One such was from an organization that worked with the upliftment of he Devadasis, by helping educate their daughters ,and weaning them away from a certain absorbtion into their maternal profession.  The doctor who ran the organization and helped, wrote back, how the folks were saddened to hear the news, and how they remembered his visits, and his talks , and how he took so much genuine interest.

And how one of the daughters of a Devadasi who he helped educate and empower, now functioned as a tehsildar.        

And it occurred to his daughter, that we make such a fuss and noise over educating our offspring, the choice of professions, the institutes, and yet, we are still in our own safety cocoons, with such comfortable boundary conditions, that we are unable to appreciate what a life changing thing it must have been for the mother of the lady, who slogged with whatever help she got, inspired a daughter to study, and manage a respectful life. 

There are no prizes and awards for either the person who made this possible, or the person who benefitted.

Life goes on.

But how many of us can honestly say today, that we changed a life ?


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  3. What a touching and inspiring story! God bless his soul! There are so many such tales of goodness... It's nice to learn in the journey of life as we get busy with so many other things... And yet there are so many who take advantage... May humans become humankind!

  4. Very inspiring indeed :-)
    Thanks for sharing it.

  5. Yes no prizes and awards but what he did was something that girl and her future family will remember for ever. May there be more like him who do things silently. As for me I have yet to do anything like that.

  6. It is people like this that make the world the wondrous, hopeful thing that it is.


  7. This is truly beautiful. What a wonderful man. I guess I think you don't have to do gigantic things to improve a life. My husband delivers meals with the Meals on Wheels program every Friday. It doesn't take up much of his time and is a volunteer work for him. It makes him feel as good as it does the people he delivers to. He makes sure they are all right and that they see someone each Friday. Other volunteers deliver meals on the other days. I believe as teachers we make/made some impact in a child's life. In the end, I'm thinking that if we all did at least a little, it will add up to so much more.

    1. Kay, Thank you ! I think what Art undertakes every Friday is truly wonderful ! Besides the satisfaction to the receivers of the meals, and the volunteers, I think this teaches so many values to the young people in families where the older folks do this kind of voluntary work. .... I know your young one is also involved in something wonderful and socially relevant, and my best wishes to him.....