With Diwali around the corner there were numerous invites on my table. Cultural programs mostly.
"Shlok Goyal, Marketing Head", the 12th invite read. I opened it up to know it was from a human welfare society, who were hosting an NGO event this weekend.
The topic was "Miracles Of Giving" and I found myself already shifting my schedule and weekend plans to attend the meet.
I reached Sartaj Hall, located in West Delhi, at sharp 5 pm and sat among the special guests for the evening. The crowd was quite good, consisting of teenagers, youth , middle aged people and few senior citizens as well.
Various people came on the stage and narrated how they felt after helping others. It really broadened my horizons as to who all needed help. We all do. Either financially or emotionally, we all crave support.
After few good speeches later a man in his mid thirties came up on the stage. He was tall, had a great built and had a satisfied grin on his face as he started.
"I'm Manav Sharma. I own an export business, which by god's grace is doing really good." He had a really confident composure.
He looked at the audience then at the guests that I was a part of, too, and passed a smile.
"I wasn't what I'm today whole of my life. I was a spoiled, mean teenager who grew up to be even meaner and ruder. My father, he was a really bad man. Like really bad. The one they show in the movies. He used to drink a lot, come home late, beat my mother, and even me many a times. We were never at peace. My mother always begged me to be better, to never be like my father. I hate to admit that I became like him. Even worse, because unlike my father I had these good and bad moments. In the good moments I would be a great human being, be good to people and then as a bad human being I would destroy the trust people placed in me. In my life, I have heard so many people tell me how badly I ruined their feelings."
The man was getting intense with each line he was saying, like the rueful past was coming to eat him again. He continued after a brief pause.
"I would work in the daytime to earn money to sustain my drinking and gambling habits and would waste my money and myself at the night.
I got a beautiful wife a few years after I started my business. I would be good to her few days but hurt her beyond repair on other days. She always wanted a child but in the span of time I became more and more selfish and refused her of that. I grew distant from her despite all the love and efforts she put on me. I started flirting with women at the bar I went to drink. One day my wife, Neha, finally left me. She left the world she made for both of us, which I ruined each time. I didn't ask her to come back, male ego you guys know. I started drinking more and more and stopped paying attention to the business. The life I had was shattering, nothing was making sense and the thing was that I didn't even realize what wrong I was doing. Until one day."
He stopped and moved his eyes a bit, overcoming tears. And started again waving at someone in the crowd.
"I was admitted to the hospital because of excessive vomits due to drinking. I woke up few hours later, still under the influence of medication and I was all alone. The loneliness was hitting me like a bullet now. I moved around a bit and reached the free services section of the hospital which gave poors a bit of relief by providing free treatment. There were accident victims, a premature baby coughing and some very sick patients. A little girl came running upto me mistaking me as the doctor. "My dad is really sick since last night, please see him." She said with such pain in her voice.
"I'm not the doctor, sweety." I told her. "Where's your father?" She pointed at a very sick man lying on the nearest bed. I went to him and we started talking. He told me he had cancer. And the girl who was just 6 year old was his daughter. They had no one else in this world, just the two of them, the man's wife passed away when their daughter was born due to lack of medication. The man's name was Adil. He was at his last stage of throat cancer.
I felt so connected to him.
I got discharged the same day but kept coming back to meet Adil and his daughter Ameena. She was such a cute girl. She had really big dreams about studying and Adil told him how he could barely make ends meet to make his daughter study. I instantly got attached to both of them.
Two months later, Adil died battling very bravely with Cancer. I lost a friend, and I was lonely once again.
I promised Adil during his last breaths that he need not worry about Ameena, she'll be taken care of. After Adil, I went up to my wife and apologized with all my heart, and finally she came back to me.
We legally adopted Ameena and admitted her into the best school of town. I took care of all her needs and motivated her to become a good person, to always help others, because that's what gives us real happiness.
I changed so ferociously after this incident. This made me who I'm today, my wife and Ameena are my strength. They are here today."
He looked up in the crowd and there they were, all smiling and happy for what Manav was now.
"I had never imagined I was capable of giving so much love and receiving it back. I feel so good about myself. Helping and giving a new life to Ameena made me a better man, sharing grieves with her father made me a better man, doing a bit for all the other patients in that free treatment room in that hospital made me a better man. And for that I'll be eternally grateful to God."
I had known it was the best decision of my life to have come here. Kindness and helping others is the best thing one can ever do. This Diwali, I promised myself to help needy and poor, that will make the festival worthwhile.
To give is indeed the greatest joy.
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