A Different Diwali Dhamaka
Another day dawned in Bangalore. In Begur, about few kms from the famous IIM-B, the mecca of Management, 5 year old Prithvi was reluctantly getting ready to be go to the Aanganwaadi near his house. He did not like to go to that school, it was dirty, smelly, and had practically no facilities. Yet he still went because of two reasons.
The Teacher, Prabhavati was very kind to the kids and the school provided two meals. Even though the meals were basic, it helped Prithvi to overcome his hunger. Both his parents were working hard to make ends meet. His father worked in a Garment factory, and mother was a house maid. At such a young age, he understood he had to study well to uplift his family in future.
Grudgingly Prithvi reached his school. Dirty scribbled walls welcomed him. Prabhavati Teacher was already there. Few of his friends were present and they were waiting for the rest. He loved this group. It was fun with being with them, forgetting all his troubles. In all they were 25 kids- the youngest was barely 2.5 years and the eldest 6 years old. From here they would graduate further to the nearby Govt school and few would be luckier to get into the Church school.
He looked around and could see the tall buildings, the one nearby was new. He had been watching it being built the last couple of years. Now it looked so good with a fresh coat of paint. Someone told him that it is a big building called DLF. He could only dream to be in such places. So near, yet so far. The bell rang, and he was looking forward to the rice served by Manjula Didi, the only other person in the school staff, other than Prabhavati Teacher.
Thanks to the Govt, meals were served in the schools and this brought many children like Prithvi to learn in them. But next week, there wouldn’t be any food in school. The school was closing for Diwali holidays. Prithvi was thinking how he would spend the holidays at home alone without his friends.
Diwali Preparation. Not far away, in that new big building, senior citizen, Bobby Jolly missed the hustle and bustle of Delhi during Diwali eve. She had recently shifted to Bengaluru to be near her daughter. She had moved into the new DLF Westend Heights Township. Bengaluru people seemed very busy with their own lives. Most in her apartment complex were all working in various companies. Once in a while she used to meet up with few ladies. She thought –“Why cant this Diwali be different. The usual sweets, delicacies, crackers……NO it needs to be different”. She met Sheethal in the evening, and shared her feelings. Sheethal too echoed her feelings, and the two ladies made some plans.
The Plan. Kalappa was the man responsible for the administration and maintenance of the township. When Sheethal told him about their plan, he took them to a nearby school. They did not exchange any words thereafter. They knew what needed to be done. They wouldn’t be able to do it alone. So they asked a few others if they were interested to join them. A message went out to the 600 odd residents. The response was overwhelming, and Bobby was amazed. Soon their house was filled with gifts from the residents. Diwali fever was in full bloom. The residents came forward and donated new clothes, biscuits, sweets, shoes, toys, new stationary, coloring books, story books, fans, tube lights, blackboard, mats, blankets and bed sheets. Many enthusiastically volunteered their time to sort and pack the clothes and gifts. Shanthi, Anusha, Richa, Varun, Shailaja, Praveena, Bhargavi, Kathik….the endless list of volunteers goes on. It took them a week to sort it all out. But this wasn’t enough.
The infrastructure had to be done up. So people donated money. Kalappa got the place cleaned up through volunteer housekeeping staff from DLF. He got the gardener to plant some greenery. The electrician donated his time and some supplies. The auto rickshaw who took Sheethal to the school charged half the rate when he came to know the purpose of the visit. Every one were ready to pitch in their might.
The search started for good painters. When Srinivas, a painter, heard of the plan, he came forward and said that he would donate 20 litres of good quality paint. Despite being a daily wage earner, he said he wanted to make this Diwali special and ensure that the children of lesser privileged had the best Diwali. Srinivas and his team worked every day in the school. He had very less time as they had to complete the work before the school reopened.
In the first week of November, as usual, Prithvi trudged back to school reluctantly. As he turned around the corner, he couldn’t believe his eyes. His school had vanished. In its place there stood a shining, gleaming, school. He ran to it. He couldn’t believe his eyes.
Goddess Lakshmi seemed to have visited the school during the Diwali Holidays and transformed it. Fresh paint, neat walls, a new black board, brand new charts, new lights, fans, new toys, everything so clean and neat, that he really felt overwhelmed. He saw each kid in school was smiling ear to ear.
Just then the teacher announced everyone to come inside. Wow, there were more gifts for each one of them. Prithvi got new pair of clothes, shoes, books, pencils and lots and lots of sweets. It was the best Diwali celebration in his life. He had never seen so many good things happening all together. The joy in the faces of the kids touched Bobby, Sheethal and the others from DLF Westend Heights who had come to distribute the gifts. The look in the kids eyes said it all. And for the Team, The Joy of Giving was far far greater than the Joy of Getting.
As they left the school, Bobby Jolly looked back at the school. In just two weeks things changed so much. After all the people in Bangalore were not as mechanical as she thought. They might be westernized, English movie watching, pizza loving people, Phir bhi…… Dil hai Hindustani! She was glad she had such friends.
Sheethal tells me what they have done is very less as compared to what all could be done. The school doesn’t have a toilet, running water, overhead tank and a proper kitchen. There is lots more work to do. The project undertaken for Diwali is by no means closed. She says that unless these are completed totally, others things would be just cosmetic. We hope the Government of Karnataka and Dept of Women and Child Welfare, come forward and sanction these basic necessities for any school, not only for this one but for each of the aanganwadis.
Salute to these good Samaritans from DLF Westend Heights.
It is time for us all to look around and see what we can do individually or collectively. Let us come forward and do our bit in Nation Building!
Let more Prithvis enjoy their school!
(Note: If you would like to donate/help for this project please contact firstname.lastname@example.org)