a Curious palm...
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It is definitely Rakesh and his immense will power which changed so many nomadic hearts roving around restless highway junctions, asking for money, from one car to another. Yes, he is a beggar by profession at the little age of only 9 years.
I clearly remember those days when I used to pass by these junctions, observing their agony and intense will to ‘just’ survive anyhow. I wished they could go to schools, read as a child should and speak as civil people do. So, the next afternoon, I just grabbed a black board and placed it near the junction pavement, just in front of the poor, homeless street children. I waited and waited, few children and their mothers initially did have a look at me, with suspense in their eyes, but soon they reverted back to begging again. After a long while, a little boy, around 10 years of age, with dark complexion, deep confident eyes, robed in a shredded, oversize and dirty trousers, suddenly came out of the crowd, escaping a fight with his mother. He gushed towards me with a deep breath but maintained a certain distance, perhaps giving it a second thought. “I came here to talk to you”-I said. He blushed with an innocent smile forgetting wounds caused by jostling with his mother. Cladded with a deep satisfaction and a rejoicing heart, I controlled my emotion and immediately handed him a pencil and a notebook. He grabbed them real fast. I can still remember, the crimson ray of the setting sun, fading his half face, & with a big smile on the other, making his eyes almost fully closed. He was my first and only student that evening. We talked about a lot of things. He did not even knew his age neither his location, the only thing he knew was the way to make a sad crying face in front of the passer by, while spreading his little palm to get some money.
On the next day, he surprisingly came along with two of his good friends, Mohan and Langra. By the 3rd day, they were total 4 in number and surprisingly waited for me, before my arrival, on the same spot and trying to recall their previous day lessons, under the guidance of that 9 year old. With sincerity, hard work and a very strong will to improve, he started showing a great sense of responsibility.
Next day, I went there along with few of other volunteers, to meet the parents of these street children. We faced a strong denial and an acute mistrust regarding us. Though it was disheartening initially, but we didn’t get depressed, as such things are normal in the initial stages.
The very next day, when I went to take the class, I couldn’t find Rakesh among the children. Another passed by, however, by the 3rd day I couldn’t suppress my anxiety and inquired about him. I came to know that, he met with an accident on road while chasing a stray kite and got seriously injured and was thus admitted to a nearby government hospital, facing the negligence. Immediately we got him admitted to a private hospital, to ensure his proper care. A bright future cannot be left in disdain.
To day, he is a daily visitor to our foothpath-Shaala centre, however, he could barely sense the things properly. He lost his memory in that accident.
But it was definitely his will power which dragged a considerable number of street children from the nearby locality to our centre, which is an open pathshala, similar to Rabindranath Tagore’s concept of open schools.
Today, not only the children , even their mothers and sometimes even the fathers of a few come to learn along with their children, making the foothpath shala a unique class of all age groups learning together.
But our search doesn’t end here. Still many more Rakesh are there on the streets waiting for a support on their curious palm… a support of education, care & love…..
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