The SLAP

The clock stuck 12 noon. I set foot into the Child Welfare Committee Board in the district of Wayanad. As I entered, a tall, fit man with a white robe walked towards me and smiled, “Good afternoon, my child. Please have a seat and excuse me for sometime. I will be back with you in couple of minutes. Treat yourselves with these magazines”. I nodded and sat down. I checked out the room, the postures, the paintings and the questionnaire which I had prepared to ask the Father while my thoughts drew me through what a day that had been.

That day wasn’t a usual day for me, it was special as I finally got few contacts for my work on child rights. Couple of years back, I had taken a sabbatical and dedicated my time towards a rural development fellowship program in part of one of the beautiful places in Kerala. If you want to know more on the check out the below links

Website – https://youthforindia.org/

My previous blogs on my how I started this program – http://twoforjoy.in/journey/

During my fellowship year, the initial couple of months had been tough for various reasons – language, getting to the community, identifying any gaps, etc. Finally, I had decided to some research work/awareness program on Child Rights in the schools of Wayanad. But to start with it, I wanted few genuine contacts/healthy discussions to understand the state of mind over there. Who better could help me other than Child Welfare Committee viz. CWC? After tracing for few days, I finally got the personal number of the CWC, I was deeply gratified. Last week, I had dialled the number and introduced myself and later booked an appointment with him from 1200 hrs to 1300 hrs for the following week.

At last, this was that day. Being from a corporate background, even all the daily chores have been divided into daily schedules and meetings. I wanted to get the full advantage out of this meeting. I had to travel to the district headquarters, Kalpetta, which was quite far from the village I stayed. I got all ready for the meet up with the President and started much ahead of time.

Just when I was about to step out, one water droplet fell on my cheek. With the passing time, they grew bigger and bigger and it started pouring. Keeping in mind, the conditions of Monsoon season in the lines of Western Ghats, I was prepared with my umbrella. Also, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to interview the CWC president of Wayanad, so I continued my plan as is. I started walking to the bus stop and got into the bus and then folded my umbrella.

I dried myself and closed the shutter of the window. Just when I was closing the window, I felt a big relief. I was pretty sure that a lot might not agree with me. I can’t stand rains as there can be lot of traffic because of that, it is the season for infections, clumsy roads, dirty feet, etc. If I can sit down on my couch and watch the rain and admire them, I might be happy. But don’t want to be out there on streets and dance like Bollywood numbers.

When I was slowly humming to the tunes of my self-composed music, the driver shouted “KALPETTA KALPETTA” and I gathered my belongings and swiftly got down. After walking few meters, I finally reached the area where CWC is situated. When asked the Chai Wala, he duly informed me that CWC is on second floor of the shopping complex. I thanked him. If not for the roadside chai dukans we wouldn’t have got information about a lot of things.

I climbed the staircases for about two floors with my muddy feet and all thanks to the downpour. I was almost on time with 5 minutes left for the meeting. I looked at myself and felt extremely shabby and showed myself to the public washroom in the complex after quickly checking its whereabouts to the random guy in the complex. I rushed to the washroom with the dirty footprints, cleaned myself up, quickly did my hair and after I realised that I looked decent, I slowly laid foot one at a time so that I don’t stamp on my earlier dirty footprints which had literally created a footprint trail in the entire bathroom. I stepped of the washroom once I reconfirmed myself that I was looking presentable, I walked towards the CWC, right on time.

And here I am sitting and wandering on my own thoughts and glancing my questionnaire for the 20th time, I was worried about the delay and little judgemental about the punctuality of the Father. Almost after 25 minutes, I could hear a sound of footprints and turned around. While I was deeply anguished about the delay of the meeting, Father entered the room and showered me with this graceful smile and may be read my mind and started the conversation

“I hope it wasn’t a trouble for you waiting this long, my child.”

“No, Father. That’s okay. I understood you might have had some urgent task to attend to”

He Smiled.

Then I started with my questionnaire and could hardly pass few questions while the clock stuck 1.He disrupted me and mentioned that it was his lunch time where the kids would be waiting for him in church to eat ( couldn’t argue much on that) and he requested me to come a four days later checking all his appointments. However, I finally got some courage to say that that would delay my work too and wanted him to push the meeting today and I didn’t stop there. I blamed (with kind words) him for being late to the appointment which I had booked week before.

He smiled again, gracefully, without saying a word.

I emphasized again that the delay in the meeting was because of his so-called urgent task.

He, then, finally opened, with a smile again…

 “My Child, I thought I will be back in a minute form the washroom, but then washroom was very dirty with muddy footprints. Blame it on the monsoons, someone might have had a busy day and so they couldn’t tidy it up. So, I took some time and cleaned it off with my hands. I always believe that Cleanliness is Next to Godliness and I am sure you would have done the same if you were me too. I hope you understand and come have lunch with me while we continue our discussion as I didn’t want to be a delay in your work schedule”.

I was shocked. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Guilty.

I felt like a hard slap that hard hit my face, my arrogance, me. And I was too ashamed to admit that it was my fault.

I had learnt a lesson that day. I wouldn’t have left my home if it was dirty. But did I think that it was okay to the same with the public washroom?

From that day, until now, I treat my surroundings as my own. Apparently only when you tend to consider something as you own; you tend to protect it.

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