Remembering Ram

Today is November 29th.

Exactly 15 years ago papa left this world leaving behind a huge hole that nothing could fill for many years.

Seven years ago project why began its first hesitant spoken English Class in a tiny shack with 20 eager eyed kids and I instinctively knew that the emptiness that had been gnawing at me for so many years was slowly going to be filled.

Ram taught me many things. From absolute surrender to a greater force, to unwavering faith in the destiny of India; from the delights of life king size to the undiluted joy of sharing a humble meal, from erudite books of diverse culture to the soothing lilt of a bhojpuri lullaby. But the greatest lesson I still think he gave me was a the answer to a simple question I had asked as a child: where do I find God. His answer was simply: in the eyes of the poorest, most deprived child.

When I look back at the last seven years I feel blessed and overwhelmed. To many pwhy may look like any other organisation that dot the planet in a world where charity has become a lucrative business. But that is not quite the case. Pwhy is and has been a deep seated journey that had to be undertaken to give meaning and substance to the greatest gift we are all endowed with: life! To many again it may seem haphazard and undefined albeit rudderless particularly in a world where everything has to have a mission, a goal, a structure and is then evaluated by statistics and returns. If one were to adopt this canon than pwhy would fail miserably one many accounts as it often defies all logic. I must confess that at times I too have had difficulties in explaining what and who we are.

But this morning, almost ominously a volunteer who had spent a month with us this summer shared some the entries of his journal. As I read an account of pwhy through other eyes I realised the essence of what it truly was:

A little boy started crying after his father left him at school. Seeing this, Komal (age one) went over and tried to wipe the boy's tears with her hands. When that didn't work, she began patting the boy's head like a big sister. The comforting went on for 15minutes, but the boy didn't stop. At last, Komal sat beside him and started crying with him. That did wonders – the boy stopped crying,and Komal dried her tears too. That brought a sense of warmth to my stale heart, and a smile that was truly radiated from within. Komal's bright eyes filled with curiosity and innocence made me realize what I was missing out in these past 2 weeks.

I had come to India in the hope of finding spiritual inspiration and perhaps even enlightenment, yet all I experienced was a dead soul amidst the daily buzz and "cultural immersion". In reality, God has been everywhere around, in the winds of the morning, the rustle of the leaves, the colourfulsarees, the buffalos on the streets, the crows and pigeons, the partying flies, the filth of the slums, the stares of the locals, and most importantly, the laughter and tears of all the children I have come across. In trying to do "something constructive" and paying too much focus on the language barrier, I've neglected the fact that baby angels are valued for their purity (even innocent evil), and teachers appreciate it when I push on with them everyday in the hot and stuffy room when the electricity gets cut, drowning in my own sweat without any complaints.

For a moment it felt like I was the protagonist in Tagore's Gitanjali– the one who sought Him but couldn't find him anywhere, and eventually found it in the workers and the stone cutters. India's poetic appeal – and perhaps its spirituality- is that beauty in the ugliest or most trivial of reality, under the harshest circumstances.

These simple words coming from the heart of a young sensitive man showed me what pwhy really truly was and filled my heart with peace and joy as I knew that I could finally give up my half hearted attempts at trying to fit it in restrictive boxes and allow it to flow freely. Just like a river it would take the shape of the land it crossed till it reached its final destination and merged in a greater entity.

And I also knew that the huge hole that had crept into my heart when Ram left had been finally truly filled. A wonderful gift Ram gave me before he left this world.