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Flowing with Love

It was the second day of my retreat in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. I got acquainted with Sangeeta ben, a volunteer at an anganwadi centre (crèche) in a high-poverty community, and her husband at the Gandhi ashram, and they offered to host me at their place for a day. Upon reaching their place, I was given hot, milky tea and poha, a light snack made of flaky rice, and we had several discussions. After finishing the snack, we decided to head to the anganwadi. We met some very interesting people on the way. We first met a woman who lived in that community. She was happy to have me in her house. We then met a man who thought I was from the States. He shook his hand with mine and then abruptly pointed at himself. I was a little taken aback by his greeting, not knowing what to respond. He inquired about my work and my reason for visiting them. At the end, he again greeted me in that eerie fashion and I realised that he had probably learned it to be that way.

Photo Credit - Prasanth Akki
We finally went inside the anganwadi and I came across 30 little kids, all of whom were dressed in cheerful and bright clothes. Before Sangeeta ben and I had arrived, the anganwadi was being managed by another worker, Sarla. The eldest kid, Anjali, who was five at that time, seemed most comfortable while conversing with me. The other kids needed help. There was a little kid, Naitik, who started crying as soon as he saw me because he thought I was a doctor who had come to vaccinate them. I started playing with his cheeks and hair and he got a little more comfortable with me.

I connected with one little kid, Babu, most beautifully. He had the most angular chin I had ever seen on a child and fluffy hair. His eyes were those of a bunny and he hadn’t responded to my questions to him earlier. He just kept looking at me and soon started laughing. I forwarded my hand to him which he shook and didn’t leave for the longest time. I smiled back and we both sort of fell in love with each other! He kept following me wherever I went.

I played a lot of games with the kids and some of the elder kids sang songs with the help of Sarla aunty. Each of the kids had brought along a tiffin box which got filled with a hot meal. Some of the little ones needed help in eating, and I fed them affectionately. After lunch, I distributed toffees to the kids, and even the slow and unresponsive kids came to me to get their share.

While travelling back from Ahmedabad in a train, I was thinking about all these experiences and wrote down a couplet, which I think sums up my experience at that anganwadi.

“It is only when

You let your love flow

That you realise

How much love

You have, 

To give”

Pranav Sukhija
Teacher of primary school children, counselor for many, perpetual thinker, voracious writer, avid (not greedy) reader, crazy dancer, joyful singer, wannabe guitarist, wannabe actor, wannabe chef, comfort food lover, nature lover, self-proclaimed photographer, ingenious explorer, Delhi boy who doesn't fulfill most of the assumed 'typical' Delhi boy qualities.


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