The First Day

The 24×7 bustling streets of old Lucknow can make one feel exasperated in monsoons, given the overwhelming humid air and dirt making its way into your feet. And though this was something typical of the weather and expected, this Thursday I was actually prepared to embrace the unexpected. I was out to experience something unexpectedly real and as they all said, invigorating.

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I finally arrived at the Mumtaz College campus after making my way through the lanes and narrow bylanes, swarming with people from every corner. It was clearly 2 pm,, and most members of our team were a little already feeling a little sluggish. Everyone rushed to the stairs and here I was, my heart pounding heavily and overcome with apprehension. I thought to myself about how ironical being on this side of the table could be. Before any other thought could ravage my mind, there they were, as I entered-pretty ladies standing in their pastel floral and polkas.
One would agree that their mellow voices had the power of striking a chord with even the best of the stoics. In a matter of few seconds, I felt the innocence reflecting on their faces and the humility of their words. It was quite exhilarating to see them warming up to me so fast! It was at this precise moment when all the jittery feelings I had been feeling even moments back dissipated.

These young ladies started by quietly observing of me at first. As soon as I declared that it was going to be a “no books” day for them, their excitement levels hit the rooftop! They chatted about everything they could possibly think of, with me trying hard to keep up with the sheer variety of topics they brought up, struggling to be interesting as possible!

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Zeenat, twirling her locks and widening her deep black eyes, confided in me about preferring chicken biriyani to mutton, adding with a head tilt that salted yoghurt is a must to get the complete taste. I also thoughtfully watched Huma recite her shayari to contribute to the fun from her side. Ruksaar won my heart by her shy, quiet demeanour. She felt so shy that she could hardly express herself, letting her eyelids dip now and then.
All the girls had so much talent to get inspired from. Two hours were suddenly over and it was time to leave. These little people insisted on meeting on a Sunday, calling it their fun day!
After being escorted by the newly befriended bunch to the door, I reached the foot of the staircase, joyous and fascinated by what I had just come across. Little Zeenat, who wouldn’t let go off my hand, was peeping through the jagged iron mesh and had the most hopeful expression a child could afford.
Suddenly it occurred to me-the implications of this huge responsibility I have taken up, and how I was indebted to fulfill that responsibility.

These kids are not one bit less than children outside the shelters. I quietly resolved that I would strive from hereon to give them what they deserve.

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