I got a phone call last week. It was from a local ladies' club who wanted to honour me as part of their women's day celebrations. I asked them quite candidly how they had heard of me and the answer was as candid: one of their friends had met me at the boarding school and got quite impressed by the fact that we sponsored children in the school. At first I was a little hesitant as I have always been weary of people who want to lionize you without even seeing your work, but then remembering the dire straits we were in, I decided to accept. I must admit I had no idea what I was getting into as this was a world I had always shunned. Maybe time had come to get over my disquiet and take a peek over the fence.
So yesterday afternoon I donned by best attire and set off to be honoured! The meeting was happening in the home of one of the ladies and when I reached the appointed place, I was greeted by a dozen of upmarket ladies in their best attire that made mine look somewhat paltry. The ladies were all smiles and very warm and we were given a cold drink as we still had to wait for some arrivals. Then it was time for the meeting to begin and it did with a bang: a lamp was lit, a bell rung and everyone stood up to hold hands and sing a bollywood song of the yesteryears that extolled the virtues of walking together. I was to say the least a little bemused but there was a feeling of bonhomie that prevailed and made it all acceptable.
Then it was speech time, a little pompous as everyone was greeted by their club titles. Then it was my time to speak and I did from the heart, telling them simply how pwhy had begun and what it meant to me. Everyone listened and some ladies wanted to know more. Then I was given a shawl and a gift. The President said they would come and visit us and help in whatever ways they could. A few more speeches and then the meeting closed with the singing of the National Anthem and the ringing of the bell. We were then invited to a cup of tea, which turned out to be nothing less than a feast! I took my leave, leaving the bunch of ladies to their festivities and returning to my side the fence.
My peek into this world had been a welcome experience and I was glad I had accepted the invitation. Though I did remain a little skeptic as my past exposure to the likes of these ladies had not been happy. How could I forget the umpteen times when subsequent to a phone call we were have been landed time and again with heaps of rubbish in the guise of donations, how can I forget the outrage of two such ladies when they heard about our boarding school programme, how can I forget the broken toys delivered with great fanfare. All said and done my forays across the fence had not been pretty. And yet these ladies seemed honest and genuine when they said they would help us and somehow I believed them. True we would have to wait for the right time, for their social calendars to have an appropriate window and so on. But wait we will.