By Volunteer Selvalakshmi Arullselvam, FHI Pondicherry
Today, I feel thankful. Thankful for people like them.
I walked in carrying two boxes, drenched and leaking, into their houses as the rains finally gave a break. Lead by Ma, my sister and I trudged along, into this “Paradise” – that’s what we called this place, back at home. Funnily, here we are in “Paradise” not so long after our home sank.
I’ve been here quite a few times – festive times when they needed a hand or two to do some lifting and climbing. Ma has always raved about their kindness – how they have the heart to pass us down their once loved clothes, how they send her home with food at the end of each day, how they let her have a snack or sometimes give a drink in between all the scrubbing and washing. She was elated when they offered to pay us even with all the quarantine and social distancing going on around this year.
As we settled down with the bare minimum that we salvaged, I couldn’t help but notice that this room, that they kindly led us into, is better equipped than our house will ever be. If this was just the gateway to “Paradise”, I wondered about the magnanimity of the haven itself. So after Ma left to run some errands, I quietly sneaked out and how amazed was I!
Piles and piles of books were packed in a symmetrical fashion. Squeaky clean bathrooms where I could give myself a good night’s sleep lurked around like they were no big deal. A pool full of water so clear and smell so clean, stayed still with nobody to plunge into it. All was calm, all was bright.
After taking it all in, here I am lying beneath a starry sky – one magnanimous wonder that I can call my own. As the mood fades in and out behind the clouds, so many questions hurricane my head so fast that it hurts. Why am I in a gutter and why are they on a pedestal? Why do I have to make do with a couple of burnt rotis while they get served the best of the lot? Why does Ma toil as hard as she does but still feels like she gets what she does only out of kindness? So many whys and so many why nots, that life looks bleak right now.
Of all the ruckus that my little tour created, one thing proved right. Ma always says that knowledge is wealth and that I think is kind of true from all the brown papers that I saw stacked up inside. Maybe, that’s how the “Paradise” is meant to be.