Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sayers and Doers

One of my teachers told me years back, "Sayers most often.....aren't doers."
Let old sayings remain old.
And let me be straight about this. NO sugar coating!
One fine evening, few of us, classmates, went over to a place called Nattani, a village, Pudhukottai district, unrecognized and remotely far away from urbanization and the care of fellow humans. Why did we go there?

The story starts when our college makes an announcement that students of final year are divided into batches to undertake what they call HR projects. The project (!) is about making some sort of contribution socially. Maybe an awareness camp somewhere, planting trees, making possible betterments at orphanages and schools.....The best part is that our engineering course would not be complete without doing this project and whatever you do must be done in a place which is within 50kms from the college.....

We....our batch, after a long penance…suddenly broke the ice by deciding to go to a government-run school at Nattani village. The school comprised of only 27 students (both boys and girls) overall (from 1st to 5th standard!). One of our guys got in there and identified their needs. Those needs...are what we require as very basic parameters in any institution.

Firstly...NONE of the students wore shoes or slippers (yes, the children walked to and fro barefoot). They did not have proper bags. No toilets....but it's not a complete 'no' here...they did have something in that name....but I bet you who's reading this wouldn't use doors to the toilet...all it required was to provide two rings at the available door's hinges...and nobody would do that...not the government which run it. The path to the toilet was more fearsome.....adorned by thorny plants all the way....would you feel like using it?!......There was a water tank which had a small leak...still no water supply to the drinking water facility inside school...children draw water from a water pump outside the school... There's a television and a DVD player provided in there...but was covered properly...Maybe be somebody wipes off the dust didn't look like unused...but it is....
Seems like a lot needs to be done right?
What did we do..?

It was one day to the second review of the project. (The 1st review didn't require much to be actually done. We just had to mention what we've planned to do and where.. ) We were supposed to have done something already so that we could quote that in the second review. Practically nothing done. Not a single step forward. So...a few of us, not even all, got some A4 sheets. We're going to get into the school, tax the students with a sudden drawing competition. We did. And we took the task of cleaning up some thorny plants on the way to the toilet. The place looked better then. Then....some promises, action plans discussed with the teacher in that school (only two teachers handled the school) about setting right the toilet door.., filling up the leakage in the water tank...words flew in air. We gave them good things to dream about!  All that, at last winds up as some material to quote in our second review.
Second review successful.
The project needed to be finished and the final report on it must be submitted within a given deadline. We needed to buy stuff like slippers, bags, stationery, some books. We did. All this demanded only money, and money wasn't an issue to any of us here...was affordable actually.
After all this has been done...comes the ‘fine evening’.
One fine evening, few of us, classmates, went over to a place called Nattani, a village, Pudhukottai district, unrecognized and remotely far away from urbanization and the care of fellow humans. Why did we go there?
(a) to help the children in the school
(b) to show off our generosity
(c) to finish off the HR project, take photos to put up in our report
I haven't put up these options for you to guess and shoot the right answer. These are just possible reasons for 'why?' ...I hope not (b), not that...I feel it’s unfair to pick up (a)...oh but I wish it was (a)..I really do! But I've promised you already...NO sugar coating!

I was thinking of all this while we went over there that evening to issue the slippers, bags...and all......the tank still remains with the leak...the toilet still has its door undone....and we declared happily in the background of a banner from our college that, 'HR project was completed!'.. Maybe not everything was possible...maybe because none of us felt what was project for us was a better life standard for them....It's not that the children remain in bad state of life standards to help us do projects over them...

What struck me more...really hurt me... was...when I saw the children...those children whom we used for our project, running towards us in real joy as they saw us entering their school.... Do we deserve all that love?...Maybe, if we ever have the intention of going back there again...not in guise of a project-doer...not as some necessarily good person...but as people who have enough stimulus to react to things around them....Maybe then, we could make ourselves really deserving for the love they showed us, for the 'thank you anna!' that every child said with all heart......

Are we going to do that?
Why the hell should we?
Our project is all done. So why the hell give a damn!
Maybe the children remember us as those who were really for them. Let the myth remain so, if it urges them to really be of purpose for someone else needy.
How would I remember myself related to this? A sayer...or a doer..?!
I would remember myself as a guy who walked wearing a 400Rs. worth sandals on his feet, as he accompanied a little girl of that school on her way back home,...the little girl who was a lot sweeter and purer than him at heart....who was walking barefoot on the hot ground!

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