Arjun

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I wish I had made that one final visit

I met him for the first time on a visit to his school on Aug 19, 2006. He must have been around 8 to 10 years old. He was naughty just like any other kid his age but was very enthusiastic and much more active than them. One could distinguish him easily among the group of different-aged children who attended that school; not just because he was tiniest of them all but because he had a unique physical feature. He was born with an enlarged brain due to which his head was unusually shaped, somewhat triangular with a flattish top.

The school, I was visiting was Sadhna, a school for the mentally challenged children. I had been planning a trip to this school since the installation of the Rotaract Club in our college in mid-2005. As the Vice-President of the club having community service at it's core, I had conceived a Big Buddy project, wherein I planned to take the club members to Sadhna on weekends to spend time with the children. However, it never materialised until I got installed as the President, the following year.

Finally, I arrived at the school with a horde of members, clueless; as it was a new experience for most of us, unlike many projects, we had undertaken earlier. The name and the theme of this project was inspired by a similar project at my school where the 10th standard students used to visit the new, special class for the mentally challenged. I being the co-incharge of my section had taken special interest in it. It felt great to be executing a similar project independently on a bigger platform.

It was difficult to break the ice initially, as the club members seemed somewhat hesitant. We collected the students in a hall and with them sat down on the mats. With the help of caretakers and the teachers, I made both the students and the members to introduce each other and those who volunteered sang songs or danced along. Soon, the ice started thawing between us.

It was here, that I noticed that he had some other maladies too. Arjun; that's what his name was, as far as I remember; unlike other kids, was also hearing impaired and hence, speech impaired too.

Once, the ice-breaking session got over, we decided to disperse and hold various activities for the students. A bowling alley was created for some of them with empty bottles, while others played musical chairs, some simply kicked a football around and others sat in the corner listening to the music or dancing on it.

I don't remember if all such activities were conducted on that single day or over the following three weekends when I again visited, each time with some new club members; but one thing I clearly remember, Arjun loved to take part in all of them. So while a group of kids played with the new football we had just gifted to the school, he sprang in and kicked it as others sulked and shouted. As the kids waited for their turn in bowling, this little devil came from nowhere snatching the ball and resisting and shouting if stopped. During musical chairs, he insisted to play with others and being hearing-impaired, ran and sat at his own will while others cried foul.

It was fun watching him and I grew really fond of him, telling about his antics to my parents on returning from Sadhna. As the visits progressed, the number of members visiting started dwindling. Being over-ambitious in those initial days of my Presidentship, I had lined up many projects for them, Big Buddy being just one of them. So after those four visits, I decided to take a break for the time being as our sessional tests were also approaching.

On the following weekend, being busy with some other project at another city school, I sent half a dozen members to Sadhna with some stationery material for conducting a classroom activity, and the message that we won't be visiting for some weekends.

After that I got busy with my college and other Rotaract stuff. It was after some days, that one of the member who had visited Sadhna the other day met me in the college corridors. While talking, he gave me the news that during their visit, he had learned that one of the kids had died of a head injury caused due to a fatal fall in the school premises. On divulging further, I realised to my utmost shock, that he was Arjun.

Instantly, his naughty image flashed in front of me. It felt as a big loss. A kid whom I had not known all these years; just met a month ago and was so surprised to see his enthusiasm, despite the cruel joke, his fate had played with him; was no more. Maybe it was in my destiny to meet him and to know him.

I decided, that I'll be visiting Sadhna to pay my condolences to the school staff. However, that day never came. Moreover, I just called off the project.

I kept giving myself excuses for not making that one visit, one of them being that it was hard for me to go to that place as Arjun's images will keep haunting me. However, with the benefit of hindsight, I may confess that the truth is, I got so mechanical in my endeavours that for me holding one project after the other became the sole motive. I forgot, my humane mission as a Rotaractor and as many others in this organisation and its parent body, Rotary; got stuck in this sham of community services just for the sake of it.

Today, when I sat down to write about my Rotaract experiences (after mentioning it in my previous post towards the end), I was confused, from where to start. As I opened the folder in my laptop which contained all the photographs and documents pertaining to those two years, Arjun's image was the first that flashed through my mind.

I wish I had made that one final visit.

Here is a collage of some of his images. Please click on it to enlarge.

In the Collage:
Clockwise from Top Left Corner-
Arjun looks on during a hand painting session; the little devil esctatic after a good game of bowling; Ronaldo Junior in action; playing musical chair on his own tune; taking part in the ice-breaking session.

Note:
If you liked this, you might also like my BlogAdda's Spicy Saturday Pick, A Curious Case of Corruption.

Image Courtesy:
From Personal Collection (edited)

Dear reader, I have been diagnosed with ACDS or Acute Comments Deficiency Syndrome. My condition is critical and deteriorating day by day. The Doctor has recommended me a high dosage of comments to stay alive. So, if you took out time to read this post, be kind enough to take out some more time to leave a comment. Your few more moments may add few more moments to my life. May God bless you and your blog.

24 doses of compassionate comments received.:

Shilpa Garg said...

Oh! Sad,..really sad! :(

Peenuts said...

Well its never too late..u might not visit that place again, but its not late to start a new initiative. All the best

Nicky said...

About the query you asked me regarding the youtube videos.

Do this

in any video you will see an embed code given to the side of the video. It will be given under "embed" and looks something like this

< object width="425" height="344" >< param name="movie" so on and so forth value="htrue" width="425" height="344"> (embed thingy) < slash object >

Now, copy this and paste it in the "html code" area of your blogger create a post.

This will insert a video in your blog.
Hope I made some sense!

Vipul Grover said...

@shilpa.. :(

@peenuts.. ofcourse, thrs a lot 2 do. mayb a bit later in life! thnx 4 ur wishes:)

@nicky.. thnx girl:)

pawan said...

Well, I almost broke up. God plays funny tricks, he makes the good people unsound and the bad the best. That's the way life is, bu the best part, he made u remember Arjun for a lifetime and I guess Arjun fulfilled the task given to him by God i.e opening ur eyes!

Btw, to be frank, I didn't like you mentioning Arjun as the 'little devil', as I think, using a bad prefix/suffix in reference to a dead person is just lack of respect! Please don't mind!. I'm being frank!

Anjan said...

That one was sad dude!! That's all i can say!

Nicky said...

Such experiences make us understand how lucky we are. Sometimes when we cry over stuff like getting a bad grade or getting a bad job compared to our peers, it is these incidents that keep us going. Other times when you are elated at a victory, these incidents keep our feet firmly the ground.

I am sure Arjun went to a better place. Maybe he is between us right now - laughing and playing - a normal child. Maybe it was a way God tested him before endowing him with a better life.

Vipul Grover said...

@pawan.. hey i did hav a scnd thot on the usage of the wrds 'little devil' bt tht was d frst wrd tht cam 2 my mind nd i dcidd 2 go 4 it.. Indepndtly it might sound offensive bt try 2 c it in the context of the post.
I'v usd those wrds out of affection just like 'brat' or in hindi 'shaitan' for a naughty kid. This is 1 of d definition frm dictionary:
Devil- An energetic, mischievous, daring, or clever person.
source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/devil
4 me he was a 'little angel' indeed as u said, he opnd my eyes 2 the truth of life:)

@anjan.. jst hd 2 write this one! thnx 4 dropping by!

@nicky.. u put it vry well. indeed his life was hellish nd its gud 4 him tht he got mukti (salvation). othrwise, it wud hav been hard 4 him nd his family.

Subhayan "Wrahool" Mukerjee said...

o m g ... that was sad .. :(

Bharathi said...

The first part of your post reminded me of my school days where I was a vice president of Roteract club as well.
Concerning the last part, I feel sad as well. There are many people like Arjun and I think caring them could be a best tribute to him.

Vipul Grover said...

@subahyan.. cheer up buddy! i unnecessarily saddened evry1!

@bharathi.. rightly said buddy.. nice 2 know tht evn u wer associatd with rtr. bt in case u wer in school it mst have been interact club, rite?

http://whysoserioustoday.blogspot.com said...

Interesting blog :)

Vipul Grover said...

Thnx 4 dropping by nd appreciating:)

Bharathi said...

Thanks for correcting me. Its a while ago and I forgot. By the way I am surprised to see you away from your blog for one full day :-)

Vipul Grover said...

lol.. man wish me tht i stay away more often.. this addictive blogging is eating up my study time.

http://whysoserioustoday.blogspot.com said...

wow ... m touched :(... awesome one!!!

Vipul Grover said...

hi sugandha, thnx 4 appreciating!

Gopinath's "Artickles" said...

Really touching episode. Nice to know that you organize social activities. Vipul, you may like to read about a school recently built for mentally challenged in Igatpuri which I posted in my blog last week here;
http://gmavinkurve.blogspot.com/2009/07/ppssms-school-building-inaugurated.html

Vipul Grover said...

thnx gopinathji.. yup i'll read this post 4 sure:)

Roshmi Sinha said...

Oh My God! Thats so heart breaking.. May his soul RIP.

Vipul Grover said...

RIP!

narendra said...

its hard for me to choose words...do i say a good post or a sad situation...a sad situation indeed...you did a bad job moving me to tears(almost at least)..but you did a good job by getting smiles on their faces..every second they are loved matters to them..right?i have developed a whole new respect for you(and people like you)

just yesterday(yes believe me...it was yesterday) a twitter friend asked me what is my actual dream ..actual mein,real mein..:)..and i said i want to be a successful engineer blah blah..then somehow i said to him i want to teach govt school kids english!!!!i dint expect this from me..it came out..and i was shocked myself..(not that i am so goood at english..:P...still)
and then i realized I HAVE TO do this...but before that i need to be financially stable and all that...hate this world...nothing is free here :)

nice post...no sad post..may such children receive all the love they could never imagine to receive,not because they dont have the ability to imagine..but because somewhere deep down they know they deserve(d) more..

Vipul Grover said...

Thnx buddy 4 all d kind wrds.. I hop u realise tht dream of urs.
Well, do u know about TEACH INDIA.. if u r really serious about it, go 4 it. I'll mail u d details if u want.

narendra said...

yeah heard of them..but for my real life to start i need to get a degree..or else my parents will kick me out of home..ill be na ghar ka na ghat ka ;P(i belive they say that)

do mail me..i may need it in future...

9render5@gmail.com

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