We came back home from our pilgrimage to Shirdi. We wanted to spend some more days there however we have some important engagements here as well. I am missing kids, I keep seeing their photos and videos. I strongly believe whatever happens happens for good.
Yesterday evening, Suvin and I were in the vegetable market where we saw a boy selling vegetables. He would be about 10 years old. We had seen him earlier too, doing some errands here and there. He is young and frail. However, the unique gleam on his face cannot go unnoticed. Street Smart guy!! He wasn’t letting anyone dominate him and was working on his own terms. We came back. Today morning, I ordered groceries that were on the list. Alas! we forgot to pick them yesterday and as luck would have it, the same boy came to deliver it to us. I wanted to strike the conversation hence asked his name, he said ‘Karna’. Upon saying he really has a good name he said “I am like him only”, and ran away. As the payment was already done, I didn’t bother to stop him.
I don’t know why but I kept thinking about what the boy said, and more importantly, why?? Does he even know anything about Karna from Mahabharata? Ever since our kids grew up, Suvin and I have been in touch with the local municipal school. We give them books and uniforms when the new session begins. We may not be as rich as Bill and Melinda Gates to be able to indulge in philanthropy, we still try and fill it up by doing what we can. When I see kids who should be in school and not on streets, I speak to their parents and motivate them for formal education. I thought of doing the same with Karna aka Karan. I resolved to myself that I will ask him about his education and family whenever I bump into him next. And as if God is listening to me, he was right there running on the street.
“Karan, O Karan”, I shouted his name. He heard me and came along. “Do you keep running from one place to another all day?”, I asked “Yes, I do whatever work I can to keep myself alive” he said. The tone was bitter. “And Where is your family?” I couldn’t stop myself from probing.
To which he said, I was left to die on the stairs of an orphanage, it was a bad place, the warden kept saying “Your biological mother was unmarried and hence, she abandoned you. I didn’t like it there, so I ran away. And ever since then, I have been running. Now, I can earn and live on my terms.”
So much from such a young boy? Now I know how he surely thinks of himself to be destined like Karna.
“Come here, sit with me” I pointed towards the swing. “I will tell you a story.” He sat reluctantly as he has few chores to finish. “I will tell you story of “Rashmirathi”. This Hindi epic is written by well-known poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar.
This is based on life of Karna, and his relationship with different characters of epic- Mahabharata. The Poem glorifies Karna’s good deeds, and justify the decisions he took that changed his life forever.
Right from his Angst of being betrayed and left to die by his biological mother to being convinced by Lord Krishna himself.
Although, Karna was angry with Kunti and his destiny, all his good deeds went in vain when he sided with wrong to revenge. All his life, he was humiliated by different characters. For education, position in society etc.
when Kripacharya humiliates karna about being from lower cast and wanting to compete against the prince, to which karna’s anguish is beautifully put in words
Jaati Jaati Rat-tay, Jinki poonji paakhand
Main kya jaanu jaati? jaati hai mere bhujdand
That translates to- Those whose only asset is deceit pester me by questioning my caste. Why do I know my caste, when my iron arms are it!
“So Dear Karan“, I continued. “It doesn’t matter to whom or where you are born. What you do decides the course of your life. Don’t let others use your strength to fight their own wars, rather be wise enough to pick your battles.
In Mahabharata, Kunti abandoned Karna due to societal pressures, Radha gave him as much love as she would to her own. She raised him into a strong warrior. He was always known as ‘Radhey’, one who’s born from Radha. He could have chosen a different path, but people and burdens that he chose made him suffer. Although in his heart of hearts, he knew he was siding with wrong.
I continued, “I want you to be a good human being. I am always here to help you. Tomorrow, I will help you embark on your journey of education by finding a school. After school, you can go finish your work and come here for dinner. We can then discuss what you learnt throughout the day.”
In my flow of one-sided talk, I realised that he had burst into tears. I pulled him close and all the walls broke. He cried for almost 10-15 minutes. I didn’t console him on purpose. I wanted his bitterness to flow through his tears. I offered him water and cake from the fridge.
While he was leaving, he promised to come at 7 AM tomorrow so that we can go to school. I handed him over the book, Rashmirathi. “Read this”, I said. And with a cute smile, he said ,”I will choose my path and role model wisely, and Maa it won’t be Karna”
I bid him good bye with a new hope in my heart and tears in my eyes. Every Child needs a mother and every mom deserves a child.
This blog of part of #A2Z Challenge, there will be 26 blogs in this series all the blogs are in continuation. I am writing them from Z to A, as the story also flows from Death towards life. Hope you enjoy knowing Antara’s journey.
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