Parents and grandparents always want their children or grandchildren to be productive at some point in their lives. This was the case with my grandfather. Having seen me spend a lot of time simply lying around all day with either of my gadgets or idling around in the vicinity, my he dragged me to the orphanage where he was very active with his charity work. It was another routine annual summer visit to my grandfather in Ferozepur, Punjab, India and also another routine visit to the orphanage just like the previous summers but this particular visit was the most memorable for me and it marked a transition period in my life.
Being the accomplished man that he is, my grandfather actively participated in charitable activities that required him to use his energy, despite his old age. He took a lot of pleasure in distributing school shoes, uniforms and meals to less fortunate children in orphanages. There is a particular orphanage that he concentrated his activities on and this is the very same orphanage that I routinely accompanied him to during my summer visits to Ferozepur.
During my visits, I assisted my grandfather by engaging the children in sports and other gaming activities. In the past my actions did not have much significance to me. As a matter of fact, I found it to be good pass time activity. I usually thought of my activities as a means of getting to gain temporary playmates and kill time. However, during this particular visit I gained new perspectives. I got to see that the children in the orphanage were less fortunate than I was. I got to understand that they lacked basic necessities and that they were entirely dependent on the assistance and support that they received from people like my grandfather who took keen interest in ensuring that they at least get basic necessities to help them get by. I also learnt that many of the students had been detached from violent homes and families while they were still young. Most of them have been living at the orphanage since they were of very tender age and as a result they know no other home except for the orphanage.
These thoughts were the main starting point of what transformed me from a child into an adult. The transformation was fully compounded by my next visit a year later, during another summer visit to Ferozepur. During my next visit to my grandparents’ place, my grandfather as usual took me to the orphanage. This time unlike the previous visits, I experienced something that was strikingly inspiring. Two kids from the orphanage approached me and expressed their unwavering interests in the sports as well as gaming activities that I had taken them through. I realized that despite their circumstance of having lived almost their entire childhood at the orphanage depending on the acts of charitable people like my grandfather for clothes, food and education, the kids could afford to develop interests in me and the activities I introduced them to. This made me realize that they are impressionable and they can make something meaningful out of their lives. I learnt that what I may consider as minute, or a means of gaining temporary playmates to pass time, may actually be something meaningful to the young people. The two kids had big dreams of living in a better world where they have privileges that they currently lack. It is upon such dreams that they built their hope and cultured desires.
The kids from the orphanage recognized me and I learnt that they were also eagerly anticipating my return and made their entire summer plans based on whatever activities I would engage them in. since they got news of my coming back from my grandfather, they anxiously awaited my return. This showed me that what an individual does may have consequences far beyond what they expect. Another lesson that I learnt which enabled me transition into adulthood is that social ties, respect and care are all essential components of a better world. The two children greeted me and asked me how the year went for me. This showed me that despite the unfortunate lives they were living, they still had time to care about what I was going through and how my life was faring on. Yet to me they were temporary playmates that I would forget once my summer vacation was over. My experience with the children made me develop more interests in them. I wanted to offer them with more than I usually did in the past. That is why motivated by their desires, I took them through my tablet which I always carried and introduced them to the world of science and technology, shared my math and computer knowledge. It is a common adage that “sometimes, reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a journey”. I believe that the adage is accurate and I also believe that at times, it also means allowing another person to take part in your life and you in his/hers.
Since that experience, the children at the orphanage ceased to be just the kids at the orphanage any more. Through my association with them, a sense of self-worth hit me and gradually it dawned on me that I had more to offer to them than I could have ever imagined in the past few years. They had now become another part of my life. It is said that one good turn deserves another and how true this is. Over the next few weeks of my vacation, I engaged the children in more academic activities in Math and Computer disciplines and their progress was absolutely amazing. Their drive to learn new things was amazing. I was now dedicated to ensuring that I share with them knowledge that I felt was useful or will be useful in their lives. Within the next two summers, I had become their guru to them. I offered them what can be termed as a summer school. For me, the children transformed me to an accomplished adult.
I was no longer my parents’ responsibility but a solution for them and others. Such acts put me in the corridors of adulthood where I could meet and handle various activities with people of all ages. To all of them I was a dependable and purpose driven person, who they could count on in handling serious issues and businesses.
Nothing could be more evident than seeing a relieved smile on my father’s face when he saw me taking my grandmother out for a walk for whom getting up from bed itself is a big task due to Parkinson’s disease. Now, I was the one leading my proud grandfather. My teachers were pleasantly surprised as I made every activity I undertook stand out. Every possession I had was put on purpose and every day I have spent since then counts a lot in my life and that of others. How useful we become as adults in the society depends on the acts of kindness that we are exposed to from childhood. The experiences we have influence our thoughts and dreams. As such, I am glad that I spent a great deal of inspiring moments with my grandparents and parents to invoke the feeling and desire to help others in me. I am forever grateful for that and will forever continue to inspire and impact the lives of others positively; directly or indirectly.
- Young, R. A. (2011). Transition to adulthood: Action, projects, and counseling. New York: Springer Verlag.