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A Happier World

written by Parnika Reys Gamat

I was talking to a friend the other day and she was whining about her life. I tried telling her that there are people who would kill to have the life she does. But she didn’t seem to believe me. It made me think of the boys I had met on Sunday and what they wouldn’t do to be in her place.

My visit to the Government Home for Boys with Special Needs was an eye-opener in more ways than one. The joy that I felt from these kids is something we don’t normally get to experience in our adult lives. When they came up to me to shake my hand, they smiled and showed that they were happy to meet me. Not in the way you say ‘Nice meeting you’ to a new acquaintance but something more like ‘I’m so glad you’re here!’

These boys may look like pre-teens but some of them have a mental age of a 3 year old and are still struggling with basic motor skills. The volunteers from U & I had organised special activities to help them interact better and learn the basics.

One group brought along coffee beans, a ball of cotton and an orange to demonstrate smell, touch and taste – a great exercise for a rainy Sunday afternoon. Another group had progressed to ABC’s and 123’s. Talking to the volunteers, I learnt that it takes a long time to see results with these boys and some of them have spent years building a good rapport with them so that they retain what they learn.

In the corridors, there was a cheerful bunch of boys performing nursery rhymes and repeating steps after their beloved akkas and annas as they fondly call the volunteers. One boy started playing claps with me – something I hadn’t done in years. It’s easy to smile around here, even easier to bring a smile to someone’s face. At one point, a little boy and I found ourselves laughing out loud without a care in the world. Some things that seem crazy to the outside world become a part of daily life here.

All in all, I found the experience truly enriching and inspiring. Everything we whine about every day is of least priority when you focus on making someone smile and helping them grow. I recently heard this quote that really captures what I experienced: Never get tired of doing the little things for others. Sometimes those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts.

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