By Soneet Sindhu
“…and the Icebreakers are scheduled on the 10th of July, all of you must gather at….” and my mind started trailing off ; Imagining myself standing there at the gathering point, walking towards my fellow volunteers.. The nerves kicking in.. “The children look upto you” said a voice, breaking my train of thoughts. With every passing second, I was getting more and more jittery to meet the small ones who were going to be a big part of my week.
Then came the 10th of July.A bundle of nerves looked back at me from the mirror instead of my reflection! Throughout the week I had been imagining how the kids would be. In some scenes they were angels, greeting me with arms wide open and in others they were looking at me with “judgy” eyes.
Will they like me? Will I be nice to them? Are my fellow volunteers good people? With all these questions and many more, I drove to the common gathering point. The first sight was people laughing and standing together, radiating excitement. Instantly, I’m soothed. We laugh and chat all the way to our destination “Wilkinson”.
On reaching, I could see a big metal gate painted brown and a few kids climbing over to get a good look at who’s coming. The gate opens and we take tentative step towards the classroom. I look behind and see a wave of children coming towards us, tiny little feet running, dark hair tied up in neatly set plaits, BIG grins and curious eyes swarming us… I started smiling before I knew it!
We all settled down in a class and introduced ourselves. Names, likes, hobbies et al. The ones who told they loved to dance and sing were forced to do so! (I got away with listing my hobbies as colouring and LISTENING to music). The kids were divided and we all got busy drawing and colouring the seasons in a year.
In between all the noise and the chatter and the playful fighting of children competing for their favourite crayon, a small figure walks up to me, takes my hand and leads me gently to his group. He just wanted my approval, me, a stranger, a person who he saw barely 5 minutes ago, looking up to hear my praise like a child does when he wants the approval of someone that matters..Instantly, my heart is a big smiley!!
Many praises and trips of checking out the competition later , the same small boy comes and presents me with a paper flower as his token of appreciation, each petal hand-painted with vividly colourful wax crayons. A gesture so simple…and so moving. A child just has so much to give and in return, just wants a smile, a nod of approval, a small pat on the back to tell him he’s making you proud.
Such a small drop of an incident in my ocean of life, yet one that left me with the warmth that can only be found in hugging a fluffy animal after a horrible day! When the time came to leave, the children all flocked around us and told us that they’d miss us, wanting to know why we would take so long to come back, and accompanied not by lacklustre waving of hands in a sweeping motion, but by super charged pair of hands jumping up and down with the collective murmur of “ Didi Hi-5!” “Bhaiya Hi-5!”
The gates closed and goodbyes were “Hi-5ed” , leaving us to think for a moment. My thoughts trailed off again “what was I doing ALL this time? Why did I not do this sooner? Surely I must be insane!” Insane or not, on that day, I found out something about myself, that I was truly madly deeply hooked.