The Philanthropist

leavesThe sun was pouring in the midst of the intervened leaves of the huge banyan tree. The scorching sun rays were striking against his tanned skin. He had a lean figure with a suave face. He was working on his small stall of the world’s best lemonade. His wife, a woman in her forties was a stark contrast to how her husband looked, she was bulky and huge. She was making masala chai (tea) at the other corner of the stall. It was that time of the day when the sun is at its peak and keeps the liberty of burning the pedestrian’s skin severely. I was sitting on one of the crooked benches they had put in front of the stall under the shade of the tree.

Sipping my lemonade and contemplating upon what had left me infuriated some time ago, my train of thoughts was disrupted by the wind that blew over and left a cooling sensation on my body, I was sweating profusely. As I sat there, I observed the destitute couple who were devoid of any possible comfort of this world but sported a smile on their face. That man was teasing his wife. His wife liked the innocent teasing and smiled slyly. I was forced to admit the fact they were happier than anybody I can possibly recall.

This alluded to almost all the destitute sellers I knew. Right outside where I live, there is a small market comprising a vegetable seller, a tailor, an ice cream seller and a cobbler. All these people sit beside the road and earn their living. They endure the coldest days to the hottest and most humid days of the year. Even then, if you are having a bad day and you go to one of them to purchase something even for 2 bucks, they greet you with not just a smile, but with enquiries about your home and your family. They are always concerned for the people around them. At the time of the day when the traffic is slow, they play the radio, I hear the sounds in my room and those songs are ancient but melodious. The vegetable seller always slips in some extra green chillies as a freebie, the tailor always comes and delivers the clothes at your doorstep the moment they are ready so that you don’t have to bear the pain of going to them. Their small acts of kindness are priceless.

tea stallThese people have the minimal amount to eat, the minimum number of clothes to protect themselves and not even the comfort of a cozy bed to sleep at night. Even then they are happy and content in life. They enjoy the simple things in life and don’t run after things that are not theirs. I on a personal level feel that we all are running in a materialistic race where the winner is always the one with the most goods and comforts of life. The fire to have more than the person living next to you is such that sometimes we forget who we are and what are we actually fighting for, is it that big car or the posh bungalow on the next street or just the mad rush to get the next big thing. Living a purpose driven life is amazing, but if you lose the central idea behind that life then trust me your life is heading towards an aimless gamble.

I was 18 when my mother told me to do engineering, as a gamble I pursued it. Today I can say I am not happy. The mistake I committed 4 years back of not deciding the goal of my life and not living a purpose driven life has costed me 4 years of my life.  So don’t commit the mistake I have committed, be aware of what you are searching for and what can make you feel ‘complete’. Acquiring the best of things can satisfy for a transitory phase of your life. Think beyond today and beyond the materialistic world that is holding you down.

Right now I have a clear mind and I feel blissful. I have an aim to live with the minimum possible comforts. I don’t sleep in an air-conditioned room, I speak the minimum possible on the phone and I try to make every minute productive because after witnessing the lives of the unprivileged people of my society, I have now understood one thing, that the lesser you have, but sufficient, the happier you are. Filthy rich people are not happy; they are not content with their lives. There is a void in their lives that no amount of money can ever fill.

Be a philanthropist and amaze people around you by your generosity and drive to live a simple yet fulfilling life. So now I have just one motive in life and that is to be known as ‘ The philanthropist’ who is virtuous and peppy. Also, I don’t call people philanthropist only by the amount of money they donate, a true philanthropist is happy and satisfied in his life. Can a person who is sad in his own life make others’ life better? I don’t think so. Charity begins at home, so help yourself before you attempt anything else.

I leave with a quote -

“In a world where there is so much to be done, I felt strongly impressed that there must be something for me to do”
~Dorothea Dix (Social Reformer, 1802-1887)


distant girlSome girls are born with a cursed fate and Maya was one of them. She never had control over her life and when she did, it appalled the world. Her mornings started with preparing tea for her father, who returned from a long walk in the village every day. His favorite cardamom tea with the morning news paper waited for him at the small table kept in the open space inside his huge haveli. Raj Singh Rathore was an honest man who worked hard to maintain a high reputation for his family. The Rathore family was famous in most of the districts for their morals and values with money in abundance. He loved his daughter Maya immensely and took pride in introducing her to anyone who came home. Maya was a gold medalist and an ideal traditional Indian daughter who looked after her family.

Maya always wore a crisp cotton shalwar kameez with a long plait and a satin ribbon that hung behind her back like a tail. She loved singing and cooking. She was 23 and at the peak of her beauty. Her parents had started searching a suitable groom for her and she was ready to silently accept her parents’ choice. She had full faith in them and never thought of defying them. Her family was hopeful for a bright future for their one-in-a-million daughter.

A family arrived at the haveli to ask for Maya’s hand in marriage to their son, Aditya. The family was educated and by their polished mannerism seemed to belong to some big city. Aditya was working at a software company and earning good money, enough to afford a lavish lifestyle for his family. He was living in the USA and planned to shift his entire family there after marriage. Maya’s parents were ecstatic, they couldn’t believe their luck. He was the perfect match for their daughter.

Maya was called; she was dressed in a red saree and held a tray in her hand that had tea. She offered tea to everyone and looked at Aditya for the first time. He looked at her too and smiled; Maya blushed and quickly withdrew her stare from his face. The boy’s family wanted the marriage to happen as soon as possible so that they could leave for the USA. There was nothing else that Maya’s parents could have asked for, they agreed instantly. Soon a pandit was called and an auspicious date was chosen two weeks from that day. The boy’s family was requested to stay in the haveli with everyone.

image source:icravehistory.blogspot.comThe haveli was huge and only four people were there from the groom’s family to witness the wedding. So everything was arranged in the house and they started living there. The next night Aditya sent a note to Maya, requesting her to meet him in the fields at the crack of dawn, so that no one saw them. Maya was not ready to meet him privately before marriage but her sister convinced her to go.

They met near a barn and spent three hours together. They opened up about their lives and their ambitions. Everything seemed perfect for Maya, the man of her dreams had finally arrived. She fell in love with him in the little time that they talked. They agreed to meet every day, same place and same time.

The haveli mean while housed a dozen relatives who had come to join the celebration. Everyday a new ritual was held and lots of songs and dances followed. Maya was having the best time of her life, she was in love. She received the attention and the love of dozens of people. Every morning she met Aditya and the intimacy grew. She couldn’t think of anything else the whole day. He bought her gifts and flowers and she silently blushed. They held hands, kissed and talked about the world. The world was turning a crimson shade of red for the two love birds.A couple of days later they got engaged and married four days later.

The ceremony was opulent and comprised thousands of guests and relatives. Nobody had seen such a lavish wedding, everything was spectacular. Maya’s parents gifted the couple a swanky car, lots of gold and bundles of cash. Everything was handed over to Aditya’s mother who happily accepted the gifts.

image source:favim.comThe newlywed couple was sent to the most luxurious hotel of the district for their first night. Maya couldn’t stop imagining her life in the USA and the future that only had happiness. That night gave Maya the most passionate moment of her life. Her heart fluttered and the touch of her husband made her feel complete and blissful.

She woke up next morning to an empty bed. She felt terrible to have overslept. She quickly got up and waited for him to come back. The memories from last night were still lingering in her mind and brought a smile to her face that made her red. Hours passed and there was no sign of Aditya anywhere. She telephoned the reception but they had no clue about him. He wasn’t answering his phone either. Scared she hurried to her house and saw a chaos. Aditya’s family was missing too and along with that all the gifts and the car were gone.

Realization struck Maya’s family. They had eloped with the cash. They were fraud and planned this conspiracy for money. Maya couldn’t breathe, she fell down and fainted. Soon a doctor was called and announced that she was pregnant. The whole family went into a state of shock and started condemning Maya for having a cursed fate. Days passed and the family kept tormenting Maya, demanding her to get her baby aborted. But Maya was broken down; her condition was becoming worse and she didn’t want the last hope of her life, her child, to be aborted. That fear made Maya make the toughest decision of her life.

She packed a small bag and left her home forever to also save her family’s reputation and name. She went to a distant village and lived in a single room. She was determined to change her life. Her education helped her and she started taking tuitions for her livelihood. But soon enough her belly was protruding and this caught the attention of the villagers. She wasn’t married, that was confirmed to the villagers and so they stopped sending their kids to her. Maya was eight months pregnant then.

image source:www.frostedproductions.comShe only had one month left to see her baby and she wasn’t going to let people ruin her dream. She managed the final month of her pregnancy with much difficulty and pain. It was four in the morning when she screamed with pain and some kind hearted women who knew her came to her rescue. After one hour, Maya gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

She couldn’t stop looking at her. She couldn’t believe that she was a part of her. She kept kissing her baby and cried her eyes out. Those nine months came rushing back to her, the dismal images flashed in her mind, those mornings behind the barn, her marriage, that night, everything. Her only motive for the last nine months had been to give birth to her child. Now that motive was over.

She took her baby to her favorite place, a place above the long tower where she always went and sat for peace of mind. She talked to her baby there, when she was pregnant. She wanted her girl to see that spot. So she went there and took a large earthen pot with her. The winds were pleasing, but her heart was heavy. She hugged her baby tightly and kissed her several times. She couldn’t imagine the pain of separation from her. She wanted her girl to have a happy life, a life with good family and home. She smiled at her daughter and kept her inside that earthen pot. She kissed her child and started walking towards the boundary, ran the last few steps and jumped down. The tower was too tall for any chances of survival.

After some hours the baby started crying and wailed due to hunger. A couple passing by went up and saw the baby. They were distressed to see the baby alone, but soon enough found why. They had no children of their own so they happily adopted her. It could have been a matter of fate, but that is what Maya always wished for, a family and a home that only had love for her.

This is a reality in India. Thousands of women are victim of fraud NRI marriages where the brightness of a promising future is such that people become blind and do not verify anything before marrying off their daughter to a fraud. The Punjabi society is especially facing a grave social issue of young girls being married off to NRIs on the pretext of settling them abroad for better economic prospects.

Many NRI grooms are middle aged and settling in for multiple marriages. Many are looking for docile domestic helps. First wife is prevailed up on to accept the second co-wife as a free “Naukarani “. Such subsequent “brides” live a life of servitude and degradation in foreign lands.

Now a Parliamentary committee has recommended a “special NRI matrimonial law” to protect women against what the committee has described as “fraudulent” NRI marriages. The standing committee on external affairs has recommended measures, including enactment of a comprehensive law for protecting women against such ‘malicious’ wed locks.

Even after so many laws being passed, even today girls as young as 18 suffer due to this fraud. Some of them are taken abroad and then tortured for more dowry and are kept hungry for days. They are tormented for money and suffer deeply because of this concept called “NRI Marriages” in India!