Paridha Agarwal - 64

AUG. 11, 2020

Curtain Hug

It was 2018’s New Year morning when I, along with my best friend, visited a slum area of my city Satna at 9 AM to distribute clothes, footwear, etc. We planned it because we wanted to start our year differently and make it memorable for us as well as those to whom we donated. There were a lot of families to whom our donation reached. We tried to give every child something and also asked them to choose whatever they liked. It was my first to doing such a donation, after which I decided to do this more often.

When the nationwide lockdown was imposed, tens of thousands of daily wage migrant workers suddenly found themselves without jobs or a source of income. Overnight all modes of transport services got suspended and with the looming fear of hunger men, women and children were forced to begin arduous journeys back to their villages–cycling or hitching rides on tuk-tuks, lorries, etc. and for some walking was the only option. In my city also, there were a lot of them passing through in trucks and some on foot. It was all in the news showing their struggle and also the brighter side of people helping them. Similarly, I along with my sisters and father prepared meals to feed them. We went regularly for 3-4 days and almost fed 300-400 people coming from different states like Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai, etc. It was a very terrifying and saddening period for humankind, and it was the duty of every responsible citizen to follow the government guidelines and show their humanity in every way possible.

Recently, I have started teaching a group of kids of one family who lives in a small temporary house that is on my cycling route. For a long time, they used to wave at me and shout bye to which I happily replied, but then I realized that why not ask them about their studies as schools were all closed because of covid. So I, with my best friend, asked them to allow us to teach them seeing their mother and kids were so keen to learn. We went the next day by our cycles, of course, and they were so happy to see us. They were around 5 kids of 3rd and 4th STD. We taught them Basic English, mathematics, and continued with the same for the other days. It is very satisfying and the type of independent initiative I was hoping from myself which I finally started.