Oversized sunglasses, greasy plates of what we call perfect hangover food, a number of diet cokes and a couple of friends sat around a table reminiscing about last night’s debauchery. Such a familiar setting, almost every weekend I was in this situation cursing alcohol and promising it was the last time ever. What made matters worse was I had chosen this day to accompany an old friend to a charitable organization he had supported for many years. I seriously wanted to kill myself. The last thing on my mind was to visit a charity and expose myself to all that comes with it. (My mother was always one who gave greatly without a flinch. But why were my thoughts so different? Why did I conveniently ignore the brutal realities of life?) Very apprehensively I went, but deep down inside would’ve rather avoided it altogether. I really didn’t want to do this. Oh gosh why did I have to agree? I’m not this person; it’s not for me!
While we entered the home, an elderly woman came running towards me with the biggest smile, held my hands and welcomed us in. After her many followed suit, with big smiles and eyes glowing with pure excitement to see us. I won’t forget an old woman in particular, easily in her 90’s. She held my hands and recited nursery rhymes. She proudly recited one after the other and with her toothless smile she walked away.
We finally met Raja wearing a simple white t-shirt and worn out trousers. Many know him as “Auto Raja” the man who started a home for the destitute called the Home of Hope. We followed him into his humble office. He told me his story and showed me videos. He then took us around the women and children’s facilities and proudly showed off his hard work. He teased and played with everyone, no sympathy, no pity, he treated them like you and me while they all affectionately called him “daddy”.
Upon leaving I sympathetically asked how I could help. His face drowned in remorse, he humbly called me “sister” and requested if I could reprint his brochures. This incredible man who had traveled the world to raise funds, won awards, been on CNN, TED Talks and much more, to just get plain recognition and nothing else. Been used and abused by the police force and refused by the government. Worked day in and out to feed 450 plus people of all illnesses, caste, class, religions, was now asking me to help with his brochures and that’s it!
While I shamefully reeked alcohol and perspired profusely, I walked out of there with a strange feeling. A feeling that not only remained with me everyday since but slowly and steadily grew into something so meaningful. This feeling has changed everything, my path, my journey and my choices and still continues to do so.
Revelations don’t happen meditating for hours in search for enlightenment. As a lovely girl told me the other day, “you don’t get closer to god sitting on a mountain”:). Revelations happen in the intricacies of monotonous regimens of everyday life. They happen when u least expect it. While sleeping, eating, running, in the toilet, or on! Don’t look and stop searching, just let the universe do its job. Mine happened on a very hungover day with two amazing people. My friend’s insistence for me to expose myself to reality and Raja’s reality…so thank you!
One man so uneducated, helpless and without a penny to his name was so intelligent, so helpful and so rich by rescuing more than a thousand lives…!