My father’s soul turns 65 tomorrow and just like always I want to give him a birthday gift. Agam and I brainstormed some ideas over the weekend. He suggested I take up some pending resolution and dedicate it to him. But I don’t want it to be about me. It is about him.
I suggested some charity trusts in bay area. San Jose Gurudwara runs a school for kids in the area and there is always the Sai Mandir. But I kept going back and forth on pros and cons of donating to religious entities. I am not an atheist, but I am not a follower either. And Papa was definitely not a follower. The only place of worship that he willingly visited was Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in Delhi. I tried to look for online donation centers set up by the Gurudwara but nothing concrete came up. And throughout the weekend I kept feeling uneasy about gifting him a cause he probably didn’t relate to as much.
So this morning I started a fresh search. My motif was to look for educational organizations that need some help. In my search, appeared some schools and libraries in Mountain View and Sunnyvale. It did not make any sense to give anything to institutions that are located in areas that compete for nation’s highest per capital income groups. So I started thinking of the June Jordan school of Equity in SF, where I volunteered in June for Impact Day. I was reminded of the Art teacher’s comment when I drove her to a nearby paint store in my car– “Your kids will probably grow up to go to the best schools in the region, but this (referring to the June Jordan School) is all I have for mine.” I was instantly driven towards helping them and started looking for their website. It was then that a disturbing thought flashed my mind. “Why should I do anything for the institutions in US?”
It is India that needs this help. No matter how small my gift is, it is the children there that need it more than the kids here. And I was split in two. I found myself arguing both sides of the theme.
- A – “Kids are kids, no matter where they are? Education is a universal cause”
- B – “No. It does matter! Because kids there have no hope, kids here have a lot of support structure.”
- A – “I disagree; the kids here HAD a lot of support – which is now dwindling. Give where you can see results, what is the point in giving where you are not even certain if the money reaches the right person.”
- B – “Well if that’s the argument then why give? No one can assure you of the worth of your help. And if need is what is driving this decision then help the kids in Somalia.”
- A – “Ok – What is the objective? Ask yourself.”
The objective is simple. He gave me wings to fly, by investing his life in my education. I want to give back to him, but he is no more. I cannot give him anything anymore. I cannot even talk to him anymore. I want to do what he would have loved to do, if he was alive. I want to give wings to his ideas and invest in his dreams. Just like he did.So the decision was made easy and I picked a cause for him in India. After all it is there that he would have served, if he was with us today.
Happy Birthday Papa. You will live as long as we all do.. in our hearts and memories and in our deeds. Hope you get to celebrate it with your loved ones up there — there is quite a crowd heading to that side of life these days.
Here are my favorite lines from ZNMD, which I am sure you would have appreciated too.
Yeh jo gehre sannate hain
Waqt ne sabko hi baante hain
Thoda ghum hai sabka qissa
Thodi dhoop hai sabka hissa
Aankh teri bekaar hi nam hai
Har pal ek naya mausam hai
Kyun tu aise pal khota hai
Dil aakhir tu kyun rota hai