Prachi was a good kid. She always obeyed her parents and respected her teachers. She was a good student too. Moreover, she was a kind person at heart. When she was only 11 years old, she saved a puppy from being taken by a dog catching van. She argued with the driver and cried rivers to free the puppy. The issue became so big that the corporator had to intervene to stop this child from crying. Later everybody pat her back, telling her that she was a special child sent by god. Prachi didn’t believe in God, but she believed the part of her being ‘special’; that night she couldn’t sleep as the word ‘special’ overwhelmed her mind. Prachi was happy.
When prachi was a teenager, the plight of poor people throbbed her heart, especially of homeless people. Prachi often saw them on her way back from college. Their hair were matted and greasy. Their clothes looked like they haven’t changed in forever. Most of them even looked mentally unstable. She often wondered how she could help them but the thought that they will hit her the moment she says “Hello”, refrained her from doing so.
One day Prachi determinately thought of offering “the-oldman-near-the-bus-stop” a bath too. So she went close to him, that was when she smelled something terrible. He reeked of his own dirt. She stepped back. Prachi told herself, “I don’t have to do it now, I have my exam ahead. If I fall sick, my parents will be devastated!. For now, I should only focus on my studies and career; once I get settled in my life, I will help these people.”
26 year old Prachi, turned into a beautiful woman. She had a loving husband and a toddler kid. After a tiring day at office she came back home. Switched on the T.V. and was watching a news channel. Prachi saw a news on how an old woman was abandoned by her children was found roaming at Dadar Station, Mumbai.
“I should help her!”, she thought. Prachi hastily went to Dadar police station. Before entering, she saw the same old woman sitting on a tattered bench coughing her lungs out. She waited outside.
Prachi told herself, “I really want to help this woman but I have a toddler at home. I need to look after him, do the chores and work at office too. How will I spare time to take care of her health? She is already sick and my baby is vulnerable too… on top of it, we don’t have an extra room… what was I thinking on the first place!
Hmm… right now I’m not in a position to help someone; I better start saving money so that I can open a centre for woman like her. Yes, that is what I should do.”
Years passed. Prachi became a successful woman. She also had a younger daughter now who was studying in 10th std. Prachi’s bank account became quite heavy than she expected. Once in a while, she gave decent donations to reputed NGO’s; pictures on her facebook profile established that.
One day, while going through old stuff, she came across a diary where long back she had untidlly scribbled,
“ Save money for homeless centre”
That day she didn’t leave her room. Kept going on long walks for a few days. One day she came back home and saw her daughter and son playing together. Laughing carelessly… without a worry in the world.
Prachi went into a deep rail of thoughts and after some time mumbled to herself, “This is a cruel world. I don’t want my kids to struggle the way I did. I need to keep this money for their future… ah! Even if I have to sacrifice my dream for them, I will.”, she rationalized.
Today I saw an old woman at Kolkatta railway station. She looked delirious and was startled every time any person passed by. She was tearful and terrified. Her hair were almost white and slightly covered with grease. Her frail body made her look unbelievably small and pitiful that I wanted to cry. I touched her shoulder and called,
She didn’t recognize me, and kept staring suspiciously.
That once ‘special’ kid, her dementia didn’t allow her to even regret.