Every year from the month of November to January it is Ayyappa bajan season in my life. Usually the place where we perform Bajan would be home (residence) at times it would be temple if requested since we are not professionals neither we charge nor encourage it. Unlike ordinary Ayyappa bajan we do Samprathaya Bajan which follows a fixed format which has always received appreciation. A simple call from an acquaintance whom we met 4 years ago in train on pilgrimage to Sabarimala fixed a date for bajan in “HOME for challenged children” in Anna nagar, Chennai.
Since I have just joined a job still in training period I was not allowed to take leave unless it is really an emergency. I decided not to go because I was getting tired of working hard, that week was really tough because of storm. After all that rain and storm on Friday my organization declared a holiday for us on 31st (Saturday) also the last day of 2011. Without any further delay I decided to go there and update the same on our Facebook group. Even if I say “I will not come” my good friends will drag me to the HOME for bajan for playing dolak since Balaji who plays it regularly was not around.
The actual plan was to be there early and finish the pooja as soon as possible since the children there have to take medicine and sleep before 8pm. But we fell short of schedule reached there around 6:30pm which must have been 5pm as per plan. Since the bajan started late it has to end late so Guruswamy of the group (my dad) asked the staffs of the HOME to feed the children and given medicine. Even though I was not able to play the dolak to best I was able to make some sound out of it to match the bajan. We expected the children to head to their respective rooms and dorm to sleep.
To the surprise of all after dinner the children returned to the main hall to listen to bajan. Towards the finishing the song’s tempo got higher and better for which Mathi anna and I had to play faster and louder. I was not happy to play that way because it might hurt them. But they gave another surprise by clapping and enjoying the tunes. It made us in high spirits to see them enjoying the bajan even when it’s already 1 hour past their bedtime so played some more songs of high tempo. After the bajan we had dinner there and came back.
In the little time gap between bajan and dinner we had little conversations with the children in HOME. First I was not sure about speaking with them neither was not able to start a conversation. I’m not able to give a reason for not speaking but something inside me said “speak with them”, “make them happy”. The quickest solution I came up with is to stick to someone who can speak without any struggle - my mom. Mom and I went to the first floor and met children who were about to sleep they were happy to have conversations with us. Staffs didn’t allow us to every part of HOME since they felt we would be light hearted.
While mom was speaking with staffs a boy named Sudharsan said ‘Suuper vasichinga, samma speedu’ it took time for me to realize that he was speaking to me! But he made me comfortable I had a little chat with him he is 8 years old in 1st standard. Then he introduced his friends Giriranjani ,…. I can’t remember other names. But they were helping each other a lot. It was amazing to know that some children even know the diet plan of others and restrict them from eating all and much.
If you just have a bird brain like me and think that they need much help and know little then sorry! Even now I wonder why I was not able to start the conversation and how it was so easy for him to compliment me and make me comfortable. I don’t know whether it is a practice in their HOME or love they share but every child is taken care of other who is a bit more matured. I heard a girl is appearing for IAS entrance exam and some more excelling in other fields.
With words, I can’t make you feel what I felt. I can promise you one thing that I can take anyone there next time I visit the place, if they are interested. If you get a chance to spend a day with blessed children like them don’t miss, not every HOME is in need of money but every person there is in need of LOVE :)