Monday, August 18, 2014

Zero, the price of love

   "Somebody said to me that love is priceless. It is infinite. I replied to them, 'Yes it is priceless. But it should imply zero. Love at no cost. Affection at no cost. What we need is readiness from within.' That is why I am planning to name the trust 'zero, the price of love'", said Ashok to his father.
  "Anbin vilai suzhiyamaa?" (Zero, the price of love in Tamil)
  "Yep. Sounds better in Tamizh.", replied Ashok.
  "I am very proud that you have these kinds of ideas and thoughts in this young age. Carry on. But be transparent with the members".

Six months ago,

   "Ashok, do you know about the Olimayamana Deepavali, we used to organize every year?", asked Ashok's cousin Rajesh in telephone.
   "Yeah, I do. Deepavali with orphans."
   "You have joined in an IT. Contribute something."
   "Ok. My contribution is thousand rupees. I will pay to you once I come over there."
   "Great. We are having it next month second Saturday. Be here."
   "I will do."

Ashok, a recent engineering passed out and have just joined an IT firm in Bengaluru. The call was from his cousin who along with badminton friends involve in social activities. Ashok knew few members over there. He donated his blood once in a blood donation drive conducted by them. He didn't find the Deepavali incident that important to attend but he decided to go since he can see relatives over there.

   "Wear this kurta, Ashok", said Rajesh.
   "Yes."
   "You have to take care of hospitality"
   "What?"
   "Can't you give chocolates to children?"
   "How many of them will be coming?"
   "One twenty children from three different homes."
   "Okay."
   "Chocolates?"
   "Buy them.", said Rajesh and started to the marriage hall where the event was planned.

Ashok had a good time over there. Couple of female singers for Super Singer Competition were there! Two chocolates went their way.  Children from two homes were already present. Finally arrived the children from third orphanage.

After giving away the chocolates, Ashok moved to the row behind the super singer candidates. Two girls whom the television shows one minute once even when they are not performing. The compere, a middle aged enthusiastic bald gentleman started to carry the mike and went to each children and started asking their names. Names started like Vikash, Antony and he reached the final home. The kids started to tell their names, " R. Adhavan, R. Akilan, R. Tamizh, R. Ilakkiya, R. Parimalam and the name list continued and ended up with R. Poongothai."

A child from the third home came to the stage. The compere asked her name, she replied R. Inbaselvi.
"Everybody from your home has same initials. What is that R?"
"Raghunathan, my dad's name."
"Good. What are you going to do?"
"I can say capital of any country. I can identify the country from its flag."
"How old are you?"
"Six" she replied.
"Give a big round of applause to this little girl.", said the bald head compere.
The compere started to ask her the capitals.
He started with Kuwait.
"Kuwait city."
"Nepal"
"Khatmandu."
He continued to ask for twenty to twenty five countries. The child replied the answers in fraction of seconds.

After that, the compere said, "What a girl! She said her father's name is Raghunathan. He is father of all people sitting over there(pointing the third home). He is here sitting there. Sir, could you please?"
When the compere pointed at Raghunathan, Ashok felt that he is pointing to him. Raghunathan stood and everybody clapped for him,. He was seated very next to Ashok.

Next came the super singer candidates to the stage. Ashok shook hands with Raghunathan and thought to speak a lot with him. He became silent and his thoughts went towards Raghunathan and friends group like his cousins. Children from each home performed. Ashok has not spoken a single word with Raghunathan. Function got over. Children moved to have lunch. Youngsters over there took snaps with the super singers. Ashok searched for Raghunathan at every corner of the hall and found him in wash basin.
"Sir. You are great.I want to hug you. Shall I?", asked Ashok.
"Yes, please.", replied Raghunanthan.
The hug was very tight. The hug itself said many things, "When people asked what is the purpose of life? I had no answers. You showed me today. Thank you! Boss."
"Shall I take a snap with you?"
"Yes, sure. How about with boys as well?"
"Definitely and you have done something to me.", said Ashok.

Ashok returned to his cousin's home.
"Rajesh! Rajesh!!"
"Yeah."
"Chhhp. You guys are great. Appreciate. Give your hands."
Ashok shook Rajesh's hand.
"Why? All of a sudden."
"Appreciation can be given free of cost. Zero"
"Hmm. Hmm."
"Great!!"

Ashok had lot of questions in his mind. What if he does similar activity with his school or college friends? It seemed the idea did not come from within. It is just coming out since he saw these kinds of people. If he saw, group of friends chilling out in Goa, the idea might not have come. He was not able to figure out if the idea was from his heart. It should not start like his mridangam class which he joined just because his friend joined and discontinued in couple of minutes. He kept his thoughts aside and proceeded his routine.

Six months then,

Ashok went for a relative's wedding at a small town called Arcot in Tamilnadu. His father had a friend. He ran a school for mentally challenged. From his father's compulsion, he went over to the school and met his father's friend Srinivasan. He worked as an officer in one of the companies over there and also ran the school.

Ashok wanted to speak something and wanted to show off that he is a responsible person. He asked Srinivasan, " Uncle, I want to see the students and classes over here."
 "Definitely. I would love to show you our children. Come!"
Srinivasan started towards the first class. Children stood up and wished.
 "These are the children who can understand things.But needs to be taught very slowly. They can be said as  slow learners, rather. But still not normal. If a normal child can learn a stuff in 5 minutes, these kids may  need 25 minutes." He introduced everyone in the class.
Then he moved to the next room,"The second level.", said Srinivasan while entering the room. The room is full of handicrafts. Kids were making designs in soap and few were making agarbathis.
 "For these people, the power of understanding is lesser than what we saw in the first class. These kids are  taught with making agarbathis and forming designs in soap. It will help for atleast moving their life in future." A girl came and gave Ashok a designed soap. Ashok started to have the same feeling that he had in Olimayamana Deepavali. 
"You saw a care taker outside my room. She used to be in this class. Their parent didn't take care of her well. See the god's play. You can witness. Most of the kids over here are poor. Adding fuel to the fire. They didn't want her to be with them. She used to roam here and there. Bad society. They just need a lady. Leave it. Then I appointed here as a caretaker."

They went into third class. There were about ten kids and about four teachers inside.
"These kids are even special."
Ashok nodded his head.
"Do you read books?", asked Srinivasan.
"No."
"There is a book called, 'Tuesdays with Morrie' Good one. Read it."
"Definitely."
"The writer wrote in that book, 'the life literally ends once when a person is not able to wipe his/ her own ass.' "
"Sir."
"Yes, that is true! The writer has been realistic there. These kids most of them are ten. Pity,they don't clean theirs after toileting. Some don't even know that they have to go to toilet for urgency. We teach these kids to say if they have the feel of going to toilet. Atleast they can do their basic needs and do not want to depend on others. You see, there are couple of kids who were promoted from this class to handicraft class in the past three years. That is my victory.
"Great sir.", said Ashok in the lighter voice.
"There used to be teachers before who came for these class. But they are not nurse to wipe the ass of ten and thirteen years old when needed. Now, I have volunteers. Mothers of few kids over here. They know the pain involved. They are trained and appointed as teachers for this particular class."
Ashok had no words. He nodded his head.
Pic Courtesy: nesam.org

Srinivasan took him to the last class.
"The last one. Very special kids. They need attention all time."
Ashok saw the kids and went speechless. He controlled himself from crying. Kids were sitting in wheel chair like seat and were tied with belt in legs and hip area.
"We cannot say these people are mentally challenged. But someway. Yes, they are. They can eat if we give if we feed them. We cannot find if they are thirsty. We have to give them water in regular intervals. They are tied for safety purpose. They will try to walk but it will be difficult for them. They get fits regularly.We are trying our level best and would love to see atleast one person to improve.".
He said names of the kids one by one. He went to the last kid, "His name is Srikanth. His father KV Srinivasan - myself.". He went closer to the kid and had a close loving look  "Fourteen years old."
Before Srinivasan turned at  him, Ashok wiped his tears.

They came back to reception and Ashok asked,"I know you work here in Ranipet. But with that salary, how you are running a school."
"People. They help me. My staff give me Rs. 1000. I even get it from them during their birthdays and anniversaries. We run a trust from which funds come in. You see the board there. These people paid for today's lunch. This is how it runs. I pay two rupees a month as rent for this school. The owner took one rupee before. I said to him the land rates were increasing and he should get more rent. He replied as you were compelling, he was increasing the rent and asked to pay two rupees. Such a nice person and there are very nice people in this globe to make it balanced."
Ashok replied, " I like to contribute every month. I will pay 5% of my income every month for this children."
"Thanks a lot, Ashok.", replied Srinivasan and their conversation continued.

On the way back to Bengaluru,

"Dad! I had an idea today after meeting Srini uncle."
"What is that idea?"
"I am going to start a trust with my willing friends. We are going to give five percent of our income to needy. Fifty percent beneficiary is Nesam of Srinivas uncle and 50% others."
"You have just started to earn. Why now itself? Why suddenly?"
"Just like Rajesh . How he does good things with his badminton friends?"
"You are taking decisions in haste. You are just doing things because someone is doing it. I don't think. It comes from your heart."
"It is not like that. See, Srinivas uncle has started Nesam  because his son Srikanth had that problem. But it is benefiting many people over there. Put the same logic here. Also, I had the same question inside. But I am very clear now. We will be rolemodels for many group of friends to stand in the society than just group of friends."
"Hmm. Hmm. It is upto you then. What will be the trust's name?"
"Somebody said to me that love is priceless. It is infinite. I replied to them, 'Yes it is priceless. But it should imply zero. Love at no cost. Affection at no cost. What we need is readiness from within.' That is why I am planning to name the trust 'zero, the price of love'", said Ashok to his father.
  "Anbin vilai suzhiyamaa?" (Zero, the price of love in Tamil)
  "Yep. Sounds better in Tamizh.", replied Ashok.
  "But you are paying five percent."
  "Wrong inference. A person who gives his heart is more powerful than than one who gives his money. For example, a reader for a blind, a person who gives his water bottle seeing a person breathing hard after trying to catch a bus,
Caring smile
Pleasing speech at the right time
Good heart
Soothing talk
Helping hand
Showing affection to remove ones distress. It can all come free of cost. What we need is readiness from within."

  "I am very proud that you have these kinds of ideas and thoughts in this young age. Carry on. But be transparent with the members", said Ashok's father.

Three months later

Ashok and his father were travelling in a town bus in Chennai. Both were seated and the bus was free. In the next stop, crowd got into the bus.
Suddenly, Ashok's father stood up.
"We are still six to seven stops away. Why are you getting up?", asked Ashok.
"There is a old pair standing next to you and they are elder than me. My son runs a trust called 'Zero, the price of love'. I am going by its way. I am giving my seat for one of them."
"That is like a slap on my face, daddy", said Ashok and stoop up to give the seat for the old pair.
"Thanks.", replied the pair.
"Now I got a practical example of 'zero, the price of love' and got the greatest reward ,'the thanks' form those elders."
"Exactly, dad.", replied Ashok.


The story is over with this. I want to give you further information on Olimayamana Deepavali and Nesam. They both are the true ones.

There is a badminton club based on T Nagar, 'Mahalakshmi Badminton club' which is formed by group of friends comprising business persons and important officials. They do many social activities like Blood donation, eye donation and this Olimayamana Deepavali. You can get to know about this event from Chennai Plus. It happens usually in second or fourth Sunday of a month before Deepavali. People interested to be there, can ping me. I will arrange for you to be present over there during the event either as volunteer or spectator.

Then, Nesam. Me and my friends visited there during our final year project in Ranipet. The personnel department HOD of the industry where we did our project is Mr. Srinivasan of Nesam. Ashok is exactly we who went there. The same experience is replicated. Nesam can be reached at http://nesam.org/. Mr. Srinivasan's contact is available in contact us. You  can contribute to them in various ways as in help us page. The photo above is of students over there.  You can see about the profile of each student at http://nesam.org/articles.htm You can visit Nesam any time after speaking with Mr. KV Srinivasan.

Zero, the price of love is still a dream to me, a one man group now, I can say :) . If a group of friends or like minded people start trusts like in the story, slowly there will be a societal and economic balance. Thank you.