“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”-Mother Teresa
When she smiles, I feel all the truth in the world is just staring right at me. I made a new friend today and I know I am “not to get attached” but in my defence, it’s not the girl I got attached to, it’s her smile.
SPJIMR has this queer initiative that makes the 180 of its students mentors to 180-odd under-privileged teenagers from the nearby slum areas of Mumbai. And no, I am not adding to the SPJIMR brand name (Not a member of the PR Committee) I am just recording my first day at Abhyudaya (that’s the name of the program) If the aim of Abhyudaya is to build human beings and not managers, the institution wins.
Not wanting to sound narrative and journalistic (is that a word?), I’ll move on to my meeting with my Mentee, Seema, I was handed over a sheet of paper describing her interests, it said she is extremely shy and introverted, sings well and needs help in math and English. Now, before I continue, you should know I am a) bad with kids b) partly scared of them. I suppose she was just as scared of meeting me as I was of meeting her. But that smile, it just instantly puts you at ease and more so, it tells you, “You know what you could teach me whatever you want I will learn it and yet I know things about life that you can’t even begin to imagine.”
The introduction was a little chaotic for the most part but my highlight was the quiet (did I mention she is not best at conversations?) game of monopoly I played with her. At the end of it all while my peers were excited to brave emotions and go to their respective mentee’s houses, I sort of felt I had clobbered her enough with my questions and will go to her house some other time (I thought I would be risking being too pushy)
My friend’s came back with even more heart rendering stories, a mother who wants her daughter (in 7th standard) to study but her husband wants the daughter married off. Other stories talked of how 6 people living in a room 1/4th of my hostel room and yet keeping it cleaner than mine. One girl works from 1 to 8 after her school gets over, I was wondering of all those big apartments that were employing her as a domestic help.
Reality reared its ugly head today, told me stories of the other side, the darker roads, the narrow lanes, the smaller homes. But what eventually won was the spirit of the parents who believe they have won the lottery, the spirit of the college that has a very real goal and objective in front of it. The deal is simple, the college pays their school fees, teaches the kids one vocation (Music, Dance or Chess) gives them books, in return, the children let us into their homes and teach us a million lessons per each visit. And when through the crowd, finds me and shows me that smile, that’s when I’m won over again!
Hope I manage to somehow teach her in this one year as much as she taught me today. And no matter how much people tell me not to I dream that one day she tells someone the story of the Didi who taught her how to play monopoly and being over ambitious I dream that she tells the story in english to her classmates in college.