Thursday, October 18, 2007

A gift with a difference

-by KParthasarathi Thursday, October 18, 2007
My husband Kumar hated meaningless spending on festival days like Diwali on clothes, jewellery, sweets, fireworks and varied gifts to near and dear. He felt they had no religious sanction and each family tried to outdo others in getting bigger and costlier things. While he did not belittle the religious part of the festival, he was against aping others in this mindless spending spree. But he never imposed his opinion on me or other members of the family. He used to gently point out that vast majority are suffering without basic requirements and that such lavish spending by the fortunate few is socially unacceptable.
He never accompanied me to shops on such occasions. I used to get him each year any one of the items like new suit lengths, good shirts, costly tie pins, branded shoes and even gold chain. He was a gentleman who cannot hurt others and when he accepted them with a small smile, I could guess what passed in his mind as sheer waste of money to demonstrate one’s love for the other. Still I could not allow such festive occasions to go by without a gift from me even though I was aware that they never impressed him.
Last year I did something different, something after his heart for Diwali. Kumar is not very rich though he earned enough to make us live comfortably. Yet he set apart a portion of his income for philanthropy no matter there was pressing needs elsewhere. He donated money to hospitals for treatment of poor, to schools for scholarships to needy students and in kind like blankets and sweaters for poor homes. He never mentioned this to others, not even to me on many occasions.
The idea came to me when I accompanied my friend Vasumati to a destitute home for girls run by private efforts with great difficulty. What was started as a noble cause floundered when the promised money from different sources was not forthcoming.Vasumati along with a few friends tried to keep it running. They were after persons who could afford to donate for the cause. She wanted to involve me too in this cause of seeking liberal contributions. It was a pathetic sight to see young girls of varied ages from two to sixteen dressed in tatters. The clothes were not even adequate to cover themselves with dignity and adequately. Some of them did not have spare sets to wear. They were walking in bare foot. They frequently stayed away from the school for want of a clean dress. The home found it difficult even to provide two square meals. Often they had to make do with conjee for the nights. There were about forty inmates then. I was so moved by their condition that I instantly wrote out a cheque for Rs.25000 from my personal account in favour of the home for purchase of two sets of dress for Diwali.I kept the receipt carefully. That Diwali I kept the purchases to bare minimum and skipped the gifts to friends and relatives.
I put the receipt in a brightly coloured envelope addressed to my husband with the inscription ‘With best wishes for a Happy Diwali”.On the day prior to Diwali when the family members assembled to see the purchases, they were a little shocked at the poor spread. No silks, no Conjeevarams, and no jewelry they found just one set of daily wear clothes for each from Khadi Gramodyog.To the surprised husband who could not believe what he saw, I thrust the envelope in his hand. With everyone curious to know the contents, Kumar broke into a large smile when he saw the receipt. He said this is the best gift that he had ever received from me. His happiness rubbed on others and soon we looked forward to celebrating the festival with gusto in our own new found way.

1 comment:

  1. for the first time i am reading a story like this. Your USP is your
    originality blended with clarity of expression.
    well-written, as usual.