OT: A Different Kind of Birthday

Today is my wife’s birthday. Instead of celebrating it with family and friends we decided to do something different this year. My wife came up with the idea of offering a meal to all the orphans at a nearby all-girls orphanage run by the nuns. The girls were about 80 in number, aged 4 to 14. So we arranged for the food to be cooked and served by a caterer,  bought some cake and cold drinks, which my wife took to the orphanage today at lunch time. I had to stay back and take care of our 1.5 year old son who suddenly took ill this morning.

When my wife returned from the orphanage, I saw a ravaged look on her face, as if her soul had been turned inside out. She had gone to the orphanage to deliver the cake and cold drinks and to discretely check whether the caterer had done his job well. But when she reached there the girls surrounded her and started talking to her. Apparently, they rarely get visitors who give them cake and cold drinks, let alone a lavish meal. When they started singing “Happy Birthday” for her, each one in their own pitch and tempo, she couldn’t hold back and started crying, much to the amazement of the younger girls. After she returned home she told me, “I’m never ever going back there again“. I replied, “Yes, you are. You are going back the next year and every year till somebody puts you six feet under.

The reason I am sharing this with you is not to showcase my generosity and the goodness of my heart. I live in a country where poverty, hunger, sickness and pain is everywhere you look. And yet in my 33 years of life I have done precious little to make a real difference to the people around me who are badly in need for a difference in their lives. For me doing my bit was putting a high value currency note in the offertory box which was passed around during mass. Or maybe giving a donation to the church whenever they asked for it. For me it is always someone else’s job to take care of the unfortunate, the needy and the lonely. Even the food that we gave the girls today was ordered on the phone. Cake and cold drinks were picked up from a super market and carried to the car by the driver.

True, money is required for just about everything in this world. And it is a good thing that those of us who have it give it to people do don’t. But more than money the thing lacking in abundance in this world is love. The orphans that sang “Happy Birthday” for my wife today don’t know what money is or what it can do. However, they do know that some stranger (who cries for no reason) came by to make their day different. And they simply wanted to say thank you.

My point is that writing checks to charities and giving donations is actually outsourcing the work to someone else. One can argue that the people that you outsource the work to (in this case, the nuns) are specialists in their field and can do a much better job than you. But that is like admitting that you are a stone hearted scumbag not capable of even showing a little bit of love to another human being.

Today my wife spent an hour at an orphanage and returned with so much love that she could not handle it. I cannot remember the last time I showed love to a complete stranger. Can you?

  • Sylvain

    Hi,
    Thanks for sharing this. Food for thought indeed… (no pun intended)

    (Greetings from France!)

  • Sylvain

    Hi,
    Thanks for sharing this. Food for thought indeed… (no pun intended)

    (Greetings from France!)

  • Very moving indeed. There is so much of disparity in India that we learn to be able to distance ourselves right from our childhood. One visit to a Govt. Hospital or an Orphanage or a Slum – and we fall through. The impact can be lasting.
    We take pride in challenging ourselves to solving any given problem through technology. Can we give a shot at this one?

  • Very moving indeed. There is so much of disparity in India that we learn to be able to distance ourselves right from our childhood. One visit to a Govt. Hospital or an Orphanage or a Slum – and we fall through. The impact can be lasting.
    We take pride in challenging ourselves to solving any given problem through technology. Can we give a shot at this one?

  • Rajesh,

    Yes, I believe technology can lend us a helping hand here. Hole-in-the-wall is a small example of this. (http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com)

  • Rajesh,

    Yes, I believe technology can lend us a helping hand here. Hole-in-the-wall is a small example of this. (http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com)