Monday, May 24, 2010

An Experience That Changed My Life

Hello folks....
Sorry once again to have let u down with my laziness. No excuses this time. Yesterday I thought of updating this blog with an incident that happened in February 2009, in my third year wherein my outburst against a person who had insulted me and many people close to me in a very derogatory manner made me an outcast in a group where I thought I belonged. That very person (name will not be taken.. :P) told me that I did not have the capability to motivate a team into winning, that I could never be a leader and command respect from others. Well, this was the most decent thing I ever heard from him, the rest consisting of mostly unspeakable words. I was shunned by some, but there were others who motivated me and stood by me throughout and gave me back that lost confidence. The result .... I became more determined than ever to prove my beliefs correct and mainly to prove him wrong.
But then I thought, was that experience so important when you look at the larger perspective? Okay, it definitely made me stronger no doubt, and it did make me the happiest person when I finally succeeded in that aim in March 2010. But did it really change me or my way of thinking? If not, then why should I give it or for that matter that person so much importance and publicity by writing about it on my blog? So I decided that I wasn't going to dissect the incident here. But then, what should I write about? It has been more than a month since I wrote something here.
And then it struck me. There was something that I have long wanted to write about, it was mainly an evening that changed my whole perspective of looking at things. It was that evening that prompted me to start making a documentary that aimed at helping someone in need. So here it is.................and this time, all the names and people mentioned are real... :)

It was a warm April evening and I was busy editing the videos of 60 IDIOTS, the movie I was making on my IT batch of MNNIT, when Suhaas, a friend and classmate, entered my room.
"Hey, I need a favor from you, if it's ok with you." he said.
"Depends on what you want." I teased back.
"Do you know of the orphanage in the nearby Shivkuti area?" he asked.
"Yeah. I have heard of it, though I have no idea where exactly it is or what it looks like. So what about it?"
"Well, some 2nd year guys go there during the weekends to teach the children there. Just the basic Math, some english and other stuff. They want to shoot some sort of a documentary there with the kids, so could you help them with that ?"
"Sure man, but what exactly are they trying to make?" I asked.
"Even I'm not sure. They were also saying that they would be requiring some photographs for the same, so I thought of you."
"Okay, I'm in. Who are the persons involved?"
"I don't as such know them personally, just know a couple of Mohit' Agarwal and one Gupta from Mechanical."
"Is that Agarwal the plump fella??"
"Yeah, the same one I guess. You contact them and proceed. I would also try to come with you if possible."
Saying this he left. Mohit (the plump one) was in fact a member of my dance team and I knew him quite well. Apparently I had also borrowed his video camera to shoot 60 IDIOTS. I also faintly remembered him telling me once that they were doing this orphanage thing. So here, I got another opportunity to improve and display my photography skills. I contacted those people and we decided upon the time when we would go there.
That weekend, around 6 of us went to visit the orphanage, a "Bala Ashram" which is under the Ministry for Women and Child Welfare. My prized possession, the DSLR camera was hanging down my shoulder as we entered the building. After writing our names and details into the visitors register, we were escorted by a clerk there into a cramped room, approximately 20 sq. m (my estimate) where all the children had been gathered. As soon as we entered, a small boy came marching to me and put his right hand forward for a formal shake hand and said, "Good Evening Bhaiyya!!"
I shook his tiny hand and asked him his name. He just kept smiling blankly back at me. Another child came forward and said, "Bhaiyya, he knows only bengali, no other language."
"Kemon achis ?" I asked him the only sentence of Bengali that I know, if I am not wrong it means "How are you?". He replied a greeting back which I guess meant he is fine.
Another child approached me and tugged at my camera pouch.
"Isme kya hai ??" he asked me, his voice was very hoarse.
"Isme camera hai." I replied. "Jisse main aapki photo kheechunga."
"Bhaiyya meri sabse pehle!!!" Saying this he just jumped on me with glee. This boy's eyes had one of the most horrible squint I had ever seen in my lifetime. Looking at his way of walking and talking, I understood that he had some kind of disorder, most probably autism.
I looked around at the other children sitting on the floor. There were at least five autistic kids that I identified. Many had skin diseases, though not severe but scabies was quite common. Everybody was 8 years and below in age. In total there were around 45 children housed by the orphanage, we were told later.
I took out my camera and began clicking their pictures in earnest. Everybody wanted their own solo pictures and that led to a scamper to grab my attention. It was really tough managing the enthusiastic bunch. Mohit was busy filming the video while the other guys were either having friendly chats with the children or were teaching them. Managing this bunch of highly energetic children was one real tough job, and suddenly I felt a increased respect for my parents, them having raised 3 of the most over-energetic children.
I was lost in capturing the innocence of the children. Never before had photography become an emotional issue for me. Later when we interviewed some of the children, we came to know that most of them were not really orphans, but children abandoned by their parents due to financial reasons. They came from various parts of the country. I had a small chat with a boy who had come from Mumbai, and he was thrilled to talk to someone who could speak Marathi (however pathetic my Marathi may be). He told me that he used to work with a group of people there. Most of the time, they would give him packets which he would have to deliver to some other persons. He was picked up by government authorities at the VT station and brought here.
Somewhere at that time, there was a sudden realisation in me as to how lucky I was to have the support of my parents throughout my growing times. Most of us take our parents and their love for granted, "its their duty after all towards their children" many might say. But ask any of these children how badly they need a proper guardian if not a parent. While I was talking silly things to amuse them, one little girl asked me all of a sudden, "Bhaiyya humein lene koi mummy paapa kab aayenge ?" From her expression, it was clear that she yearned for a proper home. I was speechless for several moments, but her face was still searching for answers on mine. "Aayenge beta, jaldi hi aayenge." was all I could manage to mutter. But that was the moment I decided, that I would try my best to help these kids get adopted.
That day I was really amazed how just a simple action of mine i.e clicking their pictures gave them so much happiness. Those children required love and attention, and it was heartwarming the way they took pleasures in the simple things of life. We came back the next day too, this time with some games for them. The children were given some pairs of cards, which contained similar pictures with some particular differences, and the children were supposed to point out the differences. Most of them clambered up to us pointing at objects in the pictures and muttering "Iss card mein yeh hai, uss waale mein nahi hai". While I was surrounded with the toddlers, I saw a small girl standing outside the crowd, silent but staring intently towards me. I motioned her to come near me. She came smiling with a pair of picture cards in her hands.
"Batao, in dono mein kya kya alag hai ?" I asked her.
She stared blankly towards me, it being apparent that whatever I had said hadn't registered in her mind. After about a minute, she kept both the cards in front of me and said, "Isme yeh hai, isme yeh nahi hai." pointing at practically nothing. Another autism affected kid, I understood.
"Very good beta, aap to bahut hoshiyaar ho." I said, in a weak attempt to make her feel good, and somewhere I struck a chord and a very beautiful smile appeared on that tiny face. I knew that I wasn't very convincing in my compliment, but it was enough to make her smile.
There was another child who caught my attention. She must have been hardly two or three years old, but whatever I said or did, I have never seen a smile on that face of hers. All the pictures that I clicked of hers, have her frowning. A child who has lost her smile, now that was something that I found quite disturbing. And in that I have found a kind of a mission, to bring a smile on that face. How can I, or any other person for that matter, in our own small way light up that face.
She is becoming the face of my documentary, the teaser of which can be viewed on Youtube at CDC TEASER . I am currently in the editing phase of the film, so it would be at least 20 days before I manage to complete it.
I know this has been a very long post, my longest so far, but with a matter so close to my heart, I found it very difficult to cut down on the words. There were many more children who deserved mention in this blog, but I had to cut it short. Maybe I'll have another post for them, or else I can mention them in the new blog which would be coming up soon.
I don't really know whether this post has been an enjoyable fare or not, but this one has come straight from my heart. Exactly what I meant in the beginning of the post, when I had such an experience that changed my outlook towards life, why should I write about those who tried to destroy my spirit???????

I hope I get loads of comments on this one, and in particular, suggestions on how we can help improve their lives in our own small way.

So.....Adios till the next one.................. :)

1 comment:

  1. Very nice bro !!
    Even I have to write a blog entry about my visit to the same orphanage !!