Scene 1 :
I was on family vacation to Hampi with our friends. While exploring this beautiful ancient place, a boy of around 12-13 yrs came to me and said,
‘ I need money to buy my school books, please purchase this’.
He was showing me handheld fans made out of Chandan wood sheet( he told so). Hearing his reason to sell those things in scorching heat, I felt sad. I and my friends purchased all the material he had. He went away happily. We were also feeling satisfied for able to help someone in education.
I was at Theur, Maharashtra. It’s one of the ashtvinayak place near Pune and the Ganesha temple was constructed by Peshwas. I was about to enter the premises and a boy aged 12-13 came towards me and said,
‘Can you give me compass box? ‘
He was not selling anything but used to put holy tikka on forehead of visitors.
I enquired about him and promised to give him compass box once I come out of premises after Darshan . He made sure to show me the place where he will wait for me. After 1/2 hr, I came out and there he was, standing exactly at the place he showed but with other 6-7 same age children.
He approached me hurriedly and said ,
“ I didn’t say anything to them but they heard us talking. Pl don’t cancel my box. “
Other kids now came to me and requested various stationery material.
I asked everyone about their school name, the class in which they are studying, what there parents do and why they don’t have these basic things. Children were answering all my questions. It was not that I didn’t know the answers but somewhere I wanted to listen it from their mouth.. May be to check authenticity of their request. They took me to nearby shop and I purchased compass box, writing pads as they wanted. Normally students don’t get these things in govt school for free and their economic condition don’t allow them to buy these things. Children were giggling and I left the place feeling deeply grateful.
I was on my Kailash Mansarovar tour and was at place called simikot. It’s a remote beautiful mountain town in Nepal… We were waiting at a house lodge to board our helicopter for next destination hilsa. As it was taking lot of time, I was roaming outside the lodge. I spotted 2-3 school going children so I approached them and took a nice pic. It’s a pleasure to communicate with innocent children and these were chubby, rosy pink cheeks mountain kids, so I was very happy to talk with them. From a distance, a young boy of age 12-13 was watching us and he hurriedly approached me as I was going inside my lodge. He said ,
‘ I study in 6th standard and I want notebooks. Will you please give me. “
how can I say NO?
but here the problem was of time.
My team had already started walking towards airport to board helicopter and we simply can’t be late.
I was in a fix…
I looked at that boy… there was so much hope in his eyes…
I asked him about shop location and unfortunately it was exactly on opposite direction of airport. Hmmmm
I thought for a while and told my tour guide to proceed and I will join him directly at airport.
Without waiting for his reply, we both started running towards shop. In my mind I have calculated the time others will take to reach airport by walking. I am going to use same time to go to shop, purchase things and reach airport but by running. With my travel bag on my shoulder, I was running through the narrow lanes of simikot. People were giving a surprised glance but we both were just running. I managed to reach on schedule time at airport only to know that flight is delayed. I was breathing very heavily but the broad smile on the face of that boy made all the efforts worthwhile.
Scene 4 :
Recently ie last week, I was at shirdi. Almost after 10 years I was visiting the place with my girl friends. We have booked our online Darshan pass and were busy in finding correct gate to enter. In tht 5 min of rushing here n there, a boy came to me with Baba’s photo and said,
‘ I want to pay school fees, pl help me’..
His eyes were piercing.
I remembered a story.
“There was a merchant who was ardent devotee of Vitthala. Seeing his devotion, god agreed to meet him and conveyed him so in his dream. Next day the merchant was very eagerly going to temple to meet his ISHT. He was carrying water to pour on his isht’s feet.. As he was approaching the temple, a old person almost like a begger pleaded him for water. He said, pl give me water, I m thirsty’… the merchant got irritated and angry that at such moment when he was just few minutes away from meeting his god, this begger stopped him. He used cuss words and entered inside temple without giving water to the begger. Once inside, he waited and waited and waited for the Darshan of his isht but nothing happened. Heartbroken, he returned home. That night , his isht again came in his dream. Merchant complained to god tht he didn’t keep his promise. God said ‘ I came to meet you but you didn’t quench my thirst’. Merchant immediately remembered the begger and felt sad tht he couldn’t meet his isht.”
A thought crossed my mind ,may be Sai came in this child’s avatar to meet me.
We were walking very fast as we were already late for our scheduled gate entry time. I was not having time to ask him anything and I simply pay him the 2nd big note in our currency. He gave me Baba’s photo. This happened in time frame of 5min…
As I passed through gate, I was thinking “ wow, how lucky I am as that boy approached me”.
I was looking at photo of Saibaba given by that boy. After the Darshan, we friends were sitting and talking about how nicely we had baba’s Darshan, I told them the boys incident. They said we don’t know anything and I am so lucky.
Somewhere ‘Pride’ entered me. That only I got this privilege…
Once we are out of gate, another boy of same age approached my friend with same reason of school fees. The pride that entered few minutes before broke down in pieces and I started laughing and walked further. I didn’t know what my friend did to him, I didn’t ask her about it. But it was clear from their talk that it’s a new way of begging and we should not entertain it. I didn’t say anything.
Next day morning, after the Darshan as we came out of gate, a girl of 12-13 approached me with same reason. My friends ignored and started walking ahead. But I was adamant to give her a peace of mind. I said ,
‘Sai baba will never like your lies. why are you doing this ?’
She said, ‘ no Madame, I m not lying.. I really go to school and has to pay fees.’
But I was in no mood to listen and walked away.
I don’t know if she was telling truth or not, but this incident shook me for sometime.
Am I allowing people to fool me?
Why these incidents are happening to me so many times?
What if it’s a begging racket?
What if the children’s request is genuine?
So many questions bogged me down.
Answers to the questions were ambiguous …
May be true, may be not ..
But I have to decide on my action if such situation happens again..
To be or not To be was the question
And I chose to be ‘KIND’.
In deep gratitude to all my living and non-living Gurus,
And thank you so much dear readers. 🙏