‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give’
Five children from a village near Mumbai were taken on a joy ride to the city and given icecream treat (Photos: H K Rajashekar)
The rain soaked gloomy week preceding the Navaratri festival had dampened the festive mood. The death of 18 Indian soldiers in the terrorist attack at Uri, the all-time low in Indian politics over the surgical strike by the brave Indian army across the LOC, the daily overdose of negative news in the media - of rape, murder, cheating, corruption - along with personal anxieties and stress were sitting heavily in my heart when P C Vinoj Kumar, the founder editor of The Weekend Leader called and expressed his wish to celebrate humbly the Daan Utsav during his visit to Mumbai last week.
“Hey Somma, how about treating a small number of poor kids to a joy ride and some ice creams at a Natural Icecreams outlet?” Vinoj popped up the idea. The cockles of my heart immediately warmed up at it. There could not have been a better way for me to initiate the Durga Puja festival.
For all five kids it was their visit to Marine Drive
I immediately contacted the principal of Sudhagad Education Society, a government school for poor children in a village called Kopra at the fringe of my area of residence, Kharghar in Navi Mumbai.
Many poor families live there. I picked up five children selected by the school’s principal – three girls and 2 boys in the age group of 11 to 13. These children come from families of daily wage earners or small time labourers such as welders, building painters, construction workers, and cab or auto drivers.
Still clad in their school uniform, their best attire, the children were initially little apprehensive of the trip – as if they were holding back their excitement about it.
Natural Icecream founder Kamath's rags-to-riches story struck a chord with the children
However, about two hours later when we reached Girgaum Ckowpatty in south Mumbai, the largest beach in Mumbai city, they bloomed like fresh flowers in joy at the sight of the sea waves and the cool breeze. It was their first visit to the heart of Mumbai city.
After a while at the beach we went to a Natural Icecreams outlet at the poshest area in Mumbai – right on the Marine Drive. The children’s eyes were sparkling with awe and wonder at the splendour of the Queen’s Necklace in the dark night.
At the ice cream parlour we narrated the inspiring story of R.S Kamath – the Founder Director of Kamaths Ourtime Ice Creams Private Limited selling the brand of Natural IceCreams – how despite being the son of a poor fruit vendor he turned into the head of a Rs 108 crore ice cream company. (We had done a story on him recently in The Weekend Leader.)
The writer, Somma, and P C Vinoj Kumar, editor of The Weekend Leader, have a picture for their album
While enjoying the ice cream of their choice, the doe-eyed children listened to the story aptly. Perhaps it cast some magic effect on their minds. They finally shrugged off their shyness and opened up.
It was time now to chat up with them and I and Vinoj got them talking. It was really heartening to know the dreams the kids cherished in their little innocent hearts.
While Adarsh said he wished to become a soldier in the Indian army, Anil said he wanted to be an automobile engineer. The girls also expressed their wish to complete their studies up to graduation and later pursue teaching, medical or IT jobs.
It's time to return home, but these kids will never be the same again. They know they can change their destiny
On the way back home, the children were giggling and chattering while munching at some snacks. I could feel how a humble effort to give these children, otherwise confined to their small world constrained by poverty, some exposure to a glimpse of a larger life had lit up their minds with dreams and confidence. That is what they actually deserve.
Truly, as it has been said, we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
The writer of this column,Somma Banerjjee, is a Mumbai based contributorfor The Weekend Leader