Friday, August 6, 2010

Being Philanthropist…..

I knew my grandfather as a disciplined person. He would either be absorbed in newspapers or in listening to radio news. He would start his day early in the morning even before the sunrise to take a morning walk of about 7 to 8 kms daily. On his return he would take a full size jug of water.

You would find him listening to others very keenly and but you would very rarely find him talking. He in fact seemed to lack all communication skills. Sometimes one would really wonder whether he had any friends. Once I asked my Mom,
‘‘Does Nanu love anybody? He never expresses it. And I wonder has he ever scolded you?” Mom replied, “Yes he is very emotional. But he has his own ways of expressing it. At times he loses his temper if it comes to compromising to his principles.”

He had four daughters. I had hardly seen him showing any emotion for any of his daughters. I remember once he had come to visit us. My Mom was washing clothes at that time. By the time Mom finished, he was ready to leave. I along with my Mom followed him to see him off. While leaving he held both her hands in his own and gently stroked them with a strange expression in his eyes, which to me at that age was beyond understanding. If one can call it an expression of love, then that is all I had seen it in him.

I had enough of reasons not to like him. He would never get any chocolates or candies to eat. He would mostly talk about only studies. He would ask what new I had learnt and things like that.
Once we (he, mom and me) were walking in market and one child asked for money with a begging bowl in his hand. I wanted my mother to give this child some money and my Mom was about to open her purse when he almost yelled at her and stopped her from doing so. He scolded the poor child as well. From that day onwards I framed up an opinion that my Nanu was not a man who would help poor people. To my mind that was the greatest sin one could ever commit.

As the time had it, one day my Mom got a call informing about ill health of Nanu. She left to attend him. After 10 or 15 days we got another call informing about his sad demise. The next day I was also to leave to see my Mom. It was first time that I saw her upset. She didn’t cry as I expected but I saw continuous flow of tears silently rolling down her eyes. I felt very sad. Tears rolled down my cheecks too but that didn’t change my opinion about him.

Next day morning when we were all assembled in a hall, around 25 people, all strangers, entered and sat for mourning. Some of them were sobbing and some lamenting. None seemed to know them. After some time my Mom’s uncle asked them as who they were? They narrated that they lived in a near by basti belonging to a very poor class. Nanu had adopted 3 children to send to schools for studies. He would get those books and notebooks and would also deposit their fee etc. in the school. Not only that he would go to a near by park every evening to give free tuition to many children. He would assemble children in the park, teach them some exercises and would sort out their difficulties in studies as well. He had also worked hard to convince people, mostly of his age to adopt at least one child from the basti for studies.
While they narrated this, a long silence prevailed in the hall. I could see tears in the eyes of every one present.
This group of people along with those children would come every evening to be apart of the puja performed in his name. On 10th day one of the persons delivered a lecture highlighting the social and noble work he had undertaken during his stay in this place.

For me this was altogether a new dimension of his personality. He had never disclosed it before anyone, not even before his wife, my Nani-ma. But I had one question lurking in my mind, that’s if this was true then why did he scold that poor child that day?
After a year or so I asked this question to my mother.

She replied, “your Nanu would never encourage begging. He would always believe that we should not give any alms to the people who have the capacity to work, especially not to children, who easily can fall prey to art of beggary and get exploited. And one who is able to work should never beg. He believed that begging is wrong but encouraging it was a sin. He was of strong conviction that people should work, earn and eat. But my dear child it never means that he was not a philanthropist.”

And I first time learnt the meaning of being philanthropist….


  1. He was the pioneer of social movement in the region especially poor families.I belive he was known for his dedication & honesty of purpose particularly towards the social causes of the poor & the destitute.
    I would like to salute that person and i feel proud to be your friend.

  2. Very nicely written... there are things about people.. that we hardly know.. and its the goodness they leave behind that lives the lifes of those affected directly and those indirectly .. like us who will read this :)