October 4, 2012 was a memorable day for me and the team at Himachal Media Private Limited.
The online media company moved into its new corporate office located at Software Technology Parks of India, Shimla and to celebrate the auspicious occasion, we as part of the newly constituted team opted to spend the day with special kids at Udaan, an NGO working with special kids in the city.
Normally new beginnings in our country are marked by ceremonial rituals, but instead we opted to have a day out with little Gods! Sweet, trusting and ever smiling.
We arrived at the Udaan Office at around 12:30 PM, a tad bit late from the time we’d confirmed, but overwhelmed by the excitement, reaching 10 min late or early was hardly significant. We had heard a lot about this organization-it is committed for the cause of mentally challenged children and special kids, and spending time with them seemed a good way to actually seek God’s blessings.
On our arrival, we were received by the Principal, Mrs. Lalita Rana, a gala person. Chatty as she was, she reiterated about how special the kids are and how improving their lives is the sole purpose of the organization. She was totally doped with affection for all the 55 children under her care. The happiness of serving these kids was stark stamped on her expression.
In the meanwhile, all children had gathered in the dining hall to greet us. Mrs. Rana led the way and we were ready to meet our dearest friends. I can’t describe what a welcome we got!! It was the most loving welcome ever received by me and I’m sure it was no different for the entire team.
As we took the first step inside the hall, it was abuzz with a synchronized ‘Namaste.’ Every face we saw had a brilliant smile, with a sincerity never seen before. They extended to us their fragile hands in greeting from every table and corner, but not once was there any disorder.
This was the precise moment when an inner voice inside each one of us said, yes, we are at the right place and with the right people. We were not once judged, we were only loved, and pure love it was!
They all sat there patiently for guests to serve them food. Every single of the 55 faces we saw had a story to tell, and although we couldn’t learn about all of them, there were two stories that particularly stood out.
The girl you see in the picture was bedridden and absolutely helpless before she joined Udaan. She couldn’t eat or drink on her own and would pass on the bed. Spending time at Udaan has made things better; she can now walk around, and needs less help with routine tasks. Her companion in the picture had freely given herself to this girl, watching them play and eat was an inspiring sight.
Another story was that of Krishna. He’s a simple sweet boy with a sharp crew cut and wore a big warm smile on his face. Abandoned by parents, he was adopted by Udaan and today, a new life breathes inside him. We were told by the staff that when he was brought here, he was grappling with life. But love, affection and care have worked wonders on this child. He now stays with his kin and has recuperated well.
Although to our eyes this world seems alien, you and I can never imagine how happy these kids are living with each other. They’re all ignorant kids, and it’s for the first time I agree ‘ignorance is a blessing in disguise’
Assisted by the staff, we then served them lunch. The kids were surprisingly patient. They waited for their turn and appreciated every serving they got.
So, after this was the photo session. How could we leave without pictures? Those smiles remain priceless!
They all posed in a neat group for us. One mere look at the pictures and you’ll notice there’s not a face without a smile, without happiness and without love. This left us with just a few more minutes with the kids and then we left them with the caretakers.
With age the mental abilities of these kids would not disappear. They have an IQ similar to that of a 4 year old and no matter how old they grow, they will remain kids forever. For a while it reminded me that most beautiful things have a gruesome string attached to them. Look at a forest from a distance, and it’s beautiful and lush, penetrate it through, and its ugliness is exposed. This is true for all worlds, a hard lesson.
For the last few minutes we glanced through the pictures of the kids on various functions and occasions they had celebrated. Their smiles, it’s all I wanted to see. They were magical smiles and reassuring too.
On our way back to office, we were mostly quiet, each one reflecting on the day’s events. Some hard lessons learnt and some good ones that will always stay with us.
I’m sure our team will share what they felt as individuals, but here I’ll share what’s been lingering on my mind- this quote would sum it up “Every Child born into this world is a new thought of God, an ever fresh and radiant possibility.”
The only flaw is with our perceptions; we abandon what is crookedly beautiful and approve whatever is beautifully hollow!
A day well spent, lessons well learnt, and those smiles, I can’t help mentioning them, and it was indeed a perfect day. God be with those kids always. Their smiles were the greatest blessings for us, they wished us well and they wished us luck!
Our day complete!