It was a warm, sultry, January evening – deep in the heart of Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India.
The moon had just exited its fullness by one night. It was still radiant and round, filtering its light through the palm fronds and reflecting its amber glow in the waters that ebb and flow alongside the ‘Uluru Children’s Home’.
I saw her standing there, part in the shadows of the gate and part in the lunar light. She was solitary; her eyes Illuminescent , just watching me walking towards her. Not a movement. Not a breath. Still. Silent. Deep.
What was she thinking? What decision was she considering? Why was she motionless? A beautiful image suspended in reality.
I stopped and watched her for some time, wondering what was on her mind and I was fascinated by her intensity.
Suddenly, she rushed into me wrapping her arms tightly around me, her head at my chest.
The hug was so strong, it took me by surprise. Such a tiny creature exuding such enormous strength. As I wrapped myself around her, I could feel the muscles in her tiny back. Lean, powerful, balletic – the body of a dancer. A little girl who spends hours practicing in the Bharatanatyam tradition. The hug was enduring and heart-felt. And, I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest. After a minute or so, she let go. Not a word was spoken. None was needed. She walked away.
I am not so sure I believe in altruism. Is there really such a thing? Why does one get involved in charity? How does one choose which one? Is it not to fill a gap in one’s being? And if so, which hole in me needed to be filled?
Why orphaned, destitute and abandoned children? Why India? And why now?
Upon reflection, and for my part, my mother was very ill throughout much of her life and my father was dying by the time I was 16. My parents were extraordinary and I am so grateful to have known them. They worked so very hard at staying alive and were desperate to survive for as long as possible for their children. But when a parent or parents are ill and eventually leave, particularly when children are only children, one cannot help but carry a sense of loss and abandonment into their future years.
And as I reflect, I realize that this is it. This is the gap! The hole! The emptiness of needing to fend for oneself (real or imagined) and the sadness and loneliness that pervades when you are growing up. No child should feel it. But millions do. Is it not a child’s birthright to feel secure, safe and loved, no matter what the circumstances?
Yes, as an adult, I have learned that security, safety and love come from within. And coming from such a blessed land as Australia, I feel it is my responsibility to pass on my love to those less fortunate.
A hug is mutual. A hug is the same in any language. And…. I can afford to give many away. It is a gift to be given and received. That is why I am involved with ‘The East West Overseas Aid Foundation’ of India.
I have never expected nor asked for the children’s love in return. I don’t speak TamiI and therefore can only communicate with them in a rudimentary fashion.
I am not in need of recognition, accolades or in being known to leave a legacy. Those things are of no importance to me.
I am simply interested in ‘The Hug’ and what it does for children and for the whole of mankind.
You may visit the children at: http://www.tewoaf.org.au/