Lakshmi was always suggesting visiting a school for the under-privileged along with Avani. There was no calling from my end to do that but since she wanted to do it, I let her take all the required initiative and do all needed work. I simply had to tag along.
Through her father she got an appointment to visit the School for the blind run BGS institutions on Bangelore-Mysore road (NH275), just before Janapada loka near Kamat Lokaruchi, Ramanagara. This is a free residential school for the blind run by BGS. Most of the children are from the villages around Ramanagar, Bangalore, Mandya and Kanakapura. Their parents would visit them once in awhile. Some children are orphans.
Saturday evening, the 20th February was the day. Lakshmi, Avani, my mother, my parents-in-law and I were in the school at 4.30PM. Lakshmi planned to give an orange and a biscuit pack for all the children through Avani. I was neutral about that as well. The warden there suggested distributing the stuff at 5PM when the children have their evening coffee.
The moment we parked our car outside the school inside their campus, few children who were playing came running to us and holding our hands asking questions and trying to stare inside our car. I am not fully aware yet what are they peeping in as they are blind. Moreover I was not comfortable they touching me as they were not “clean”. I realized what a jackass I am! They fiddled with my watch. I realize that that they can’t see much. I made them press one of the buttons that made a beep every time pressed. Children were so amused by that sound! They were not ready to leave my hand or the watch. Few children were only partially blind and few fully. Nobody used walking sticks inside the school and the hostel and they were walking as though they could see everything. It was hard for me to make out they could not see and all of a sudden few bump into me as they walk. I realize that they can’t see me and I am not a usual object in their school.
One significant thing that I recognized was that all children were very happy. All were smiling, laughing and playing. And some were being intentional about their chores of the day- washing clothes and so on. No one looked like having a complaint of boredom. On talking to few small ones, they sang film songs, patriotic songs and non-filmy songs, and everything with a smile.
Avani got comfortable with the new children and the surroundings. She started distributing the oranges and she soon realized that they are not taking while she simply having the hand with the orange in front of them. They cannot know unless they were called upon to take the fruit. Every simple activity is different here. It is a different world here. They simply keep walking; I have got to watch my step here.
After this event, all children proceeded to the prayer hall for evening prayer. A blind teacher with her harmonium started the bhajans and all chorused. They sung beautifully. I simply could not control myself. There were bursts of emotions every few minutes. I was simply watching myself through this. I could not figure out the reason for my emotions bursting out. May be I was empathizing with their situation. Very small children of age four years were there without their parents and with minimal support. It was very hard for me to imagine Avani like that, but life is too uncertain. On the other hand, why do I pity them while they were so happy! They have food to eat, safe place to live, education at their doorstep, peaceful sleep. They have everything in their world. Was I feeling something missing in my life that they were having? I don’t know. Some moments I felt like giving off all that I have earned to this place. Then even that felt insufficient. I felt like coming and joining this institution and working there myself. Even that seemed insufficient. May be I can’t ever solve anything as there is no problem at all! May be I simply have to be with them and nothing else is actually needed for them. May be, that’s what I was doing and that could be cause for all those emotional outbursts.
It was a very touching experience of my life. Realizing that those children touching my hands is their way to communicate with me; as some were even deaf and dumb. I would love to keep going back there. I am happy that Avani was with me there. I thank Lakshmi for this initiative.