You are the best

Over the past years we have had many volunteers from the world over. Each has been special in his/her own way and left precious memories. Some however have done more! They simply walk into our hearts. One such soul is Jon.
He landed in our lives in late March and it was as if we had known him all our lives. His endearing ways won us over in no time. True he did have a raw first week courtesy some unavoidable circumstances, but those blew away once he moved to my house and for the days to come, nothing was the same as everything was touched by the magic of Jon West or should I say Best!

In his introductory mail Jon had stated he would like to stay for at least 1 month although I am flexible on dates and length of stay. The month turned into almost six. Jon did not take long to chose his place at pwhy. He decided to work with the special children and it was mutual love at first sight. Jon Bhaiya was adopted by one and all in no time. It was as if an old friend had returned home.

For the past 5 months Jon has been intrinsic part of the pwhy special class: be it the morning exercises, the classroom activities, the dancing sessions or simply the giggling ones. On the rare days he has been away, often nursing a bout of Delhi belly, the children never failed to ask why their Bhaiya had not turned up. I dread to even think about what will happen when he leaves next week.

There is also another side of Jon Bhaiya, one I have had the privilege to discover over time and that is his humane and sensitive nature. We have shared many special moments be it on our daily auto rickshaw ride to pwhy in the mornings or over a cup of tea in the evenings. I often found myself sharing my worries and angst or simply life thoughts. He not only gave a patient hearing to the ramblings of an old biddy but often helped me resolve my apprehensions and find my way.

Project why has been and is a very lonely journey. Loneliness is oft the price you have to pay to be on the top. You need put up a brave face, have a ready smile at almost all times, and find the required answer each time a question comes your way. And though you manage a mean show day after day, you too need to sometimes hop off the spinning wheel and recharge your used and overused batteries. That is when people like Jon are God sent!

We will all miss Jon West, I more than others!

horror, sadness, shame

I am sure many of you remember the epic film of the late fifties aptly named Mother India and the stunning poster that depicted the leading lady ploughing her land. The film was a symbol of the newly independent India and of the brave and righteous Indian woman. We have all seen the film and been touched by its story but it belonged to a distant past or so we thought. Yet 55 years later in a village in Vidharbha a farmer is tilling his land using his sons instead of bullocks. The news was aired a couple of days ago and I for one found it difficult to watch the images and had to turn my eyes away. I was filled with horror, extreme sadness and profound shame. This could not be happening and yet it was. And this was not all. Even after the story was highlighted by a local newspaper there was no relief as their appeal for a pair of bullocks was turned as they were considered to be above the poverty line and hence not eligible for the said scheme. All they got was free power to operate the well they had dug with their own hands. The family was considered above the poverty line because they owned 8 acres of land. Never mind if they had scant more! And theirs is not the only case.

What does one say! I am speechless just as I was when I read the Planning Commission’s aberrational definition of the poor as one who spent less than 15Rs a day. And that is not the only scary statistic. What about the one that states that a child does of malnutrition every 8.7 minutes or the one recently published in a leading magazine that states makes known that 46% of the malnourished children of the world live in India. This article pertains to the Food Security Bill that is sadly being watered down by the Government. Why am I not surprised. Such bills are made not to help anyone but to line more pockets. Children die while grain rots and bureaucrat and politician quibble over the definition of the word poor. That is the sad reality in 21st century India.

And what is sadder is that we all watch helpless and even unmoved. We still waste food, even throw food and when solicited for help by some humanitarian organisation are quick to retort that all organisations are dubious and suspicious. And the saddest part is that it is not only the uber rich who are profligate . The new poor, those who have arrived and now live in urban slums, emulate us unabashedly. For me it has been a losing battle over a decade to try and explain that food should not be wasted. In villages one can still give it to animals, in cities it is simply thrown in the garbage or even on the street. The most blatant example being the aftermath of religious feeding frenzies and wasteful weddings. And still we the so called educated and informed remain dry eyed. We do read about children dying, food rotting, people being used as bullocks; we see food being wasted, children begging at every street corner, beggars rummaging the garbage heap from a scrap of food but are too jaded to make connections and let alone take action. So why should our politicians. Are they not a reflection of who we are?

I just finished reading Indian Summer by Alex Von Tunzelmann, a book that retraces the last days of the British Raj and the advent of our Independence. What caught my attention was the humane nature of erstwhile leaders who could not bear to see any suffering and who felt compelled to reach out and act. Where have all such leaders gone? Today everyone seems inured to misery, suffering and more.

And that everyone includes me. Is it sufficient to feel horror, sadness, shame and write a blog from the comfort of my home?

I only wish it shall be great

I stumbled upon this picture while sorting the thousands of photos on my computer. I do not know how I had missed this snapshot! It was taken a few weeks ago when school results were announced. The three little topped their respective classes and had brought their report cards to show it to their teachers. The picture was shot just outside our Govindpuri primary centre.

The little girls were very proud of the attention they were getting. I think that till then no one had lauded their effort. That is too often the plight of children born on the wrong side of the fence. The stars that adorned their report cards are never praised by their parents who often are too busy to take a moment to give their children the much needed pat on their back.

We did and the girls were thrilled. On August 15th they will all receive a little shield with the words best student inscribed on it.

Looking at the pictures set my mind thinking. What does the future hold for these bright little girls. Going by past experience not much. They all come from extremely deprived homes and are often one of many siblings. Being of the wrong gender the probability of their being pulled out of school looms large: an early marriage, an ailing grandparent that needs to be tended to in the village or simply the whim of a drunken father who decides suddenly that his daughter has had enough education. The future of these little girls, is very fragile, very fragile.

I remember a quote sent to me long ago that said: I do not know beneath what sky; Nor on what seas shall be thy fate; I only know it shall be high, I only know it shall be great. In the case of my three little one would have to quietly replace the last two knows with wish!

Poor Economics

Poor Economics is a book I would have never read but for a review in a magazine that piqued my curiosity. The review quoted the following words: What is striking is that even people who are that poor are just like the rest of us in almost every way. We have the same desires and weaknesses; the poor are no less rational than everyone else — quite the contrary. Precisely because they have so little, we often find them putting careful thought into their choices. They must be sophisticated economists just to survive. Yet our lives are as different as liquor and liquorice.

These words were enough for me to want to get a copy and dive into it. It was a strange experience. A sort of deja vu, deja vecu. The book touches upon many of the fields we at pwhy are familiar with: education, health, saving, governance etc. I could almost put a face and a name to every story I read. It was eerie and somewhat comforting. What often seemed to be absurd suddenly became comprehensible. The umpteen frustrations were put into perspective and made some sense. It seemed that what I had often thought as singular instances were present across the spectrum of what you could call the poor worldwide. They all seemed to be talking the same language.

The book is replete of case studies that echo the ones we have experienced over the years. It also raises questions we have asked ourselves over and over again. Be it the state of State run schools, the poor quality of health services available to the poor, the inability of the poor to save, the presence of swanky TV in homes that have scant resources for essentials and so on. I found myself reading the book as you would a whodunit hoping to find not the name of the murderer but answers to all the perplexing whys!

Alas there are no ready made answers but a set of key lessons tucked away in the last chapter that could improve things if applied. The first lesson is that the poor lack critical pieces of information and believe what is not true and when their beliefs turn out to be incorrect they make wrong decisions. This so true and one of the biggest stumbling blocks we have come across in our journey. And often a simple piece of information can make all the difference. However to be effective the information needs to come from a credible source and in a simple way. This lack of information pans a wide spectrum. It could be about education, health and so on. I remember how local goons invaded our workshop on AIDS prevention as for them talking of about AIDS was dirty, a misconception that is sadly very prevalent.

Second the poor bear responsibility for too many aspects of their lives. This statement was an eye opener for me, something I had never thought of. And yet it is so true. The richer we are the less decisions we have to make. Many of our problems are taken care of: job security retirement benefits, access to good quality water, food, health etc. For the poor life is much more demanding as they have none of these. The authors suggest that their lives could be bettered if they were made to do the right thing easily: simple saving accounts, fortified salt, access to chlorine next to drinking water sources. Small remedies that could have lasting effect.

Third some markets are missing for the poor like insurance, easy loans, savings account etc. These according to the authors should be made available to them in innovative ways. This of course is beyond our realm of work but we all know how well micro finance has worked in some places. At the very beginning of our work we did try to launch a small loan programme but unfortunately it did not work as planned and had to be shelved.

Fourth poor countries are not doomed to failure. In many cases the problem is that programmes destined for them land in wrong hands or go the wrong way. This according to the book is due to the three Is: ignorance, ideology, inertia. Often absurd rules once in place keep on going because of inertial. The authors give the interesting example of village education committees which are meant to include parents of the best and worst student. Who decides that as there are no tests until the 8th grade. The good news is that much can be done in improving existing programmes. I have always held that if we could get the present social programmes to run at 50%, India would be a different country.

It is hard to say whether the conclusions of this treatise are optimistic or pessimistic. What the book shows is that the plight of the poor worldwide is worrying and needs to be addressed. There are solutions but they require a lot of effort and goodwill on the part of the very people who have hijacked them to feed their own greed. But what is also apparent is that the efforts of people like us, however small are still needed.

Finally expectations about what people are unable to do end up into turning in self fulfilling prophecies. Children give up on school when teachers signal to them that they are not smart enough to master the curriculum. Changing expectations is not easy, but it is not impossible.

A silent promise

This morning we handed out two drafts to Vivek and Shambhu for their respective courses. As you may recall we had launched an appeal a few days back to help these two bright lad realise their dreams. Many responded and we have managed to reach the half way mark. However as there was a deadline we decided to advance the missing sum and ensure that the boys are enrolled in their courses. The main reason being that they unlike many of their peers listened to our advice and opted for professional options rather than go for an almost useless degree from an evening college or a correspondence course. Once they have completed their course they will have have no problem getting started. Medical laboratory assistants are in great demand and a quick perusal of an employment website shows the starting salary to be 12 000 rs a month for those without experience. And a good electrician is worth his weight in gold and much sought, I just paid 800 rs for a couple of hours work to mine yesterday! So Shambhu and Vivek are definitely on the right track.

A friend suggested that we put a rider on our support. She proposed we tell the two to boys that they need promise that when they are settled and earning they sponsor the education of a child each. It could be by paying their fees, or books or uniforms or simply by helping them with their studies. I kicked myself for not having thought of this as I remember being very touched by the Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book Pay it Forward. The book is about doing a favor for another person ~ without any expectation of being paid back. Indeed one would request that the recipient of that favor do the same for someone else ~ ideally, for three other people. What is special about this book is that a simple work of fiction evolved into a vibrant foundation. I remember wondering whether we too could adopt this precept. Now was the time.

So when we handed the cheques to Shambhu and Vivek we asked them to promise that they too would one day help educate a child. They were a bit perplexed at first but then slowly realised what we were saying and smiled broadly nodding their heads. I hope they remember their silent promise.

It was a great moment for all of us at pwhy as we felt we had reached somewhere. Shambhu was one of our very first students as he joined when he was in class II and we had just opened our doors. What a journey it had been. Maybe we did deserve a small pat on our backs!

Let us together save a dream

Meet Vivek and Shambhu. They need our help. I had written an earlier blog wherein I stated their case and shared their dreams. As was I pointed out by a dear friend and supporter my appeal gave the feeling that we were expecting one person to foot entire amount. Far from that! That is not the pwhy way. Are we not the ones that launched the rupee a day campaign?

So let me try and rewrite the appeal my way. Vivek and Shambhu are two our our brightest students. They have always done well in school and exams. Shambhu has been with us since he was in class III. They have just cleared their XIIth Boards and did exceedingly well by our standards. Vivek even got a whopping 85% in maths! But they were unable to get the needed 90+ that open doors in our day and times. And being from poor families they are unable to pay their way! Now being bright young lads and having well learnt the lessons we impart they did not chose to go for an evening or correspondence course that can be quite useless but opted for a professional one, something we urge our kids to do. One decided to go for a medical lab assistant course and the other for a diploma in electronics engineering. Both have good solid job prospects.

But there is a hitch. Each course costs about 25 000 Rs and their families do not have the means to support them. Vivek’s dad runs a small shop in the village. He sent both his sons to Delhi to study. The boys live in a small rented accommodation and the father can barely support their stay. Shambhu’s dad drives an auto rickshaw. He has four sons and though he ensured a good education to each of them, he cannot come up with the money required for the said course. So both the boys came to me with their admission forms asking for help. How could I have sent them away.

I know the sum asked is a big one but if many of us got together and pitched in I am sure we could make the boys’ dreams come true. Will you lend a hand.

Just contact me at

why not sponsor a future

Vivek and Shambhu are two of our brightest students. They have just passed their class XII and got good marks but sadly not enough to make it to the bigger colleges that have now become the turf of the rich and privileged. But our lads are not one to give up on life and have woven new dreams for themselves. They both applied for professional courses through the Board of technical education and sat for the entrance exams and cleared them!

Vivek wants to be a medical lab assistant and Shambhu wants to do a diploma in electronics and medical engineering, courses that guarantee them jobs in the future. But there is a hitch. Even though the courses are not expensive by our standards they are out of the reach of these two boys. Vivek was sent by his father a small shop keeper in the village to pursue his studies in Delhi and he and his brother live in a small rented accommodation and have barely enough to make ends meet to 26 000 Rs is a lot of money for him. Shambhu’s dad drives an auto rickshaw and cannot spare the 28 000 Rs his son needs. If the fees are not paid in four days then these boys will lose their chance.

They need us to help them build a future and save their dreams. I hope someone will hear their silent appeal and help them. These boys deserve the best.

admission @ of 5 lacs rupees

I had blogged recently about the absurd situation faced by students aspiring to get admission in colleges in Delhi. There is more. A racket has just been exposed. It got you admission to your preferred college @ 500 000 Rs! The modus operandi: providing the candidate with a fake caste certificate. The aspirants were even students with high marks not satisfied with the college they got through merit wanting more! The racket had been going on for some years.

The cover story of a leading weekly aptly entitled 95% and nowhere to go, brushes a grim picture of the marks saga and the state of our education. Do read it if you have time. There are some startling facts. For instance the article says: Marks have been inflated, even as testing standards have been simplified. If you are 17 and can find an error with a sentence such as, “We were late and it is getting dark” or “Now we both was running”, or write a hypothetical dialogue when clues and even an example is given, you will probably do well in a Class XII CBSE English exam. A teacher goes on to reveal; It is possible to score 100 per cent even in English with the current lenient marking scheme: My school has had an exceptional result this year, with more than 29 per cent getting over 90 per cent in English. This, from students who cannot string three sentences of English together. A board paper does not test any real learning. It only tests your capability of answering a paper according to a prescribed answer sheet. Phew! That says a lot does it not? The marking system is absurd. A child’s entire future depends on how you perform on a given day in a given examination. Children cannot cope with the stress and we all are too painfully aware of the suicides that happen each year.

Children are taught how to score, not how to learn, think, analyse, reason etc. The culprit is the shift from the essay type question to the objective one! A student needs only to learn by rote. No one expects him to be creative, enquiring etc. Our education system has gone astray and needs to be set right urgently.

The rot started some years back. I remember how a young girl who wanted to be a doctor all her life and was an excellent student missed her boat by a few marks. She then had to become an engineer and is today a very unhappy though successful one. This is not an isolated case. There must be many like her. But is education not a means to realise your dreams? Not in our land. Here it is marks that defines who you will be and what you will become.

Now let us get back to the caste certificate racket as it compels us to ask some disturbing questions. It is obvious that these are purchased with the blessings of the student’s parents as no one class XII student could have access to such amounts of cash. Our first reaction would be to recoil in horror. How can parents accept to abet cheating? What lesson are they giving their children? and so on. But let us look at the matter in another way. Are they not simply helping their children fulfill their dreams. Not as simple as it seems, too many shades of grey.

In all this imbroglio our thoughts must once again go back to the children from underprivileged homes. If students with 90% are going to fill reserved seats by unfair means then where will the real beneficiaries go? Reservation, whether one approves of it or not, is meant to help the underprivileged get access to better options. It is true that even this had been hijacked by the so called creamy layer. And now it is being hijacked by the privileged ones.

Getting a caste certificate is no easy task. I remember how we tried to get one for a little Valmiki girl in the hope of getting her registered for some girl child programme. In spite of our best efforts we were unable to do so. The paper work required was beyond imagination and logic, and we got lost in the maze and missed the deadline. The said programme was only available to children less than 6 months old. So you see the scenario: the deserving cannot get a certificate whilst the rich can by paying. This is the real India story. Sad is it not.

India is replete of good intentions gone astray. I always hold that if even 50% of our social programmes had worked we would be a different nation altogether. My mind goes to the (ill)famed ICDS launched in 1975 that would have ensured that all Indians below the age of 35 would have been vaccinated and provided early nutrition. That was not the case as even today a child dies of malnutrition every 8 minutes! What ICDS has done is make people rich and provide jobs to political cronies. This is just one programme, there are hundreds that have gone the same way and it is still happening.

It is time we did something. We owe it to the millions of children who have been forgotten by all.

an apologia for a blog and … a life

Twenty one years ago my mother Kamala left me. Every year dutifully I have written her an ode, extolling her in ways dear to me. This year however I will take a different road and talk about her only child, the one who may not have been born had India become independent too late and a woman aged beyond motherhood. But that was not to be and the child was born in a free India. Now the question is whether the child has vindicated the mother’s sacrifice. It was time to answer this disquieting question as time is short.

The heavens must have conspired to make me do so as I received a troubling mail from a friend and supporter is reference to my swan song – project why! He wrote apropos my blog: Not sure how to ask this, but whenever I go over to your Project Why blog, I’m looking for some update on Project Why itself but more often than not, there are complaints about bureaucracy and life’s unfair circumstances that makes all of us angry. I do enjoy the ones about the kids, or the sentimental ones about a grandchild or the children at the PWhy or the boarding school, but there’s a transparency element I’m looking for but I’m left with opacity. The words were disturbing to say the least. It was my very existence that was being challenged and I was selected to be my own juror.

So here I am today defending my blog and my life!

The former is simpler. The pwhy blog came into being when a friend suggested I use this medium rather than the tedious individual mails I use to send once upon a time to share the day-to-day occurrences of pwhy and my inner most thoughts on things that made me happy, sad, angry, outraged and so on. Slowly the blog became the alter ego of a very lonely soul. It allowed me to unburden myself without rocking the boat. It made me feel, I must sheepishly admit, important as I was talking to the world. It also evolved with me as I grew in years and in experience. Some entries are like much needed fresh air, others reminders that one has not lost one’s conscience and yet others one’s heart. Some entries are cries for help. It is true that the blog began as a kind of journal of life at pwhy interspersed with appeals for support. Along the way came cris de coeur on issues that disturbed or outraged me. People reacted well to these. I too got emboldened to use this platform to share my inner most thoughts on issues I felt should concern us all. And many liked what I wrote and urged me to carry on. And I did, heartened by the response. So the pwhy blog became what it is today: a mixed bag of offerings that reflect my life and work, my successes and failures, my indignation and admiration, my joy and sadness and I must admit the line between personal and general was often flouted when not blurred.

But I never intended the blog to be a vindication of project why. Maybe I should have given it another name altogether. Project why was to be represented by the more official looking website. The blog was my personal turf.

Time now to address the more critical issue and write an apologia for a life. This becomes crucial subsequent to the words transparency and opacity. That anyone should feel that there is lack of transparency in pwhy is a slur on my very raison d’être. Right from day one project why was meant to be an open book. So when and how did it mutate into a closed one?

It is not easy if not impossible to be one’s own juror, but today I have to assume this role no matter what. The question that needs to be answered is whether pwhy has lost its transparency and if so why? In order to do so, one needs to look back with honesty and candour at the years gone by and see what where we went astray if indeed we did.

When we began this journey we had certain intents and many aspirations. This led us to make certain decisions that could be viewed as questionable. The first one was to have a very lean administration as I for one, galled at the sight of the pompous administration of other organisations wondering when the first rupee reached the intended beneficiary. Swank air conditioned offices, numerous secretaries and admin personnel seemed so out of place when the mission you were meant to fulfil was education of the poor or rights of battered women. So from the very outset pwhy we decided that our administration would be minimal and not a burden on our finances.

The next decision we took was to employ a maximum of persons from the social strata we worked for. Staff was found from within the community and trained on the job. We have never regretted this decision as our staff has done us more than proud but here again our choice had a downside. Our staff was not page 3 and and hence could not assume certain functions so easily handled by someone with a what is so aptly called English medium education.

This translated over time in added work for me. We never had anyone to write proposals, updates, reports and so on. We never had any one to handle the fund raising or the PR. Every time there was a new need it conveniently fell on my lap and I gladly accepted it. When we decided to have a website we looked for help and found someone to design it pro bono. But when that person left I was horrified to find out the cost of having it maintained. A vital decision had to be taken, either we gave up the idea of a website altogether, or I had to master web mastering in a day, or so to speak. You guessed right I went in for the later. It did not take a day but a few nights and I must say I was incredibly proud of the outcome. Come on a 50+ old biddy becoming net savvy. It still makes me smile. So as a true neophyte I took on the task of updating the site with almost obsessive regularity.

Those were early days when pwhy was still small and should I say manageable. And it was in tune with our transparency fixation. I remember how I reveled in making tables (a difficult task for a new webmaster) during the open heart surgeries where every thing was accounted for: shoes, clothes, food etc. The site had a section called this week at why and it was again updated regularly. We also had a section called child of the week where we profiled a pwhy kid. I had almost forgotten these. So the question is why did we stop. There are no clear cut answers. Things changed surreptitiously. Perhaps it was the novelty that wore of, or the repeated messages of trust made us a little complacent. We had established ourselves and were now trustworthy. We had sunk into a comfort zone. That was I began blogging and felt erroneously that it would keep people updated. And maybe it did in the initial stages. I guess I did not realise when it mutated.

The site became more static as the core of the project had been well defined and did not change much. A dynamic photo gallery and a live link to the blog were I must confess the only active elements of our home page. In hindsight I realise that I must have intuitively felt that something was amiss. This is proved by the other blogs I created and sadly never maintained as efficiently: a news blog, a blog about the boarding school kids, a blog on volunteers, for sponsors etc It had gone a bit out of hand!

And I must admit as I said earlier we had sunk into a comfort zone: we had our regular donors and when a need arose a blog or a mail assured we got the extra needed. And so life went on and we were blissfully unaware of the fact that our new ways were somewhat hazy. We simply relied on the trust we had built and left it at that.

I am glad someone shook me out of my smug reverie and pointed out the fact that we had lost our most precious asset: our transparency. Actually we had not lost it but it had got simply got mislaid. It was time to once again give it its rightful place. No easy task but I will give it my best shot. My life depends on it.

Pwhy is and will always be the best achievement of my life. Nothing can come in its way. I for one will leave no stone unturned to ensure that it regains its past glory.

a reclaimed smile

In a few hours Utpal will leave for school. We spent yesterday packing all his things: his unwieldy homework – a chart of roman numerals made with matchsticks, a wall hanging made of bangles and a cartoon character made with lentils to name a few – have to travel safely and reach school unscathed. It was no easy task as there were more charts, scrap books and so on. Wonder why a school gives so much holiday work, when does the child enjoy his vacation. Must confess that some of the said work was done by yours truly with a little help from friends!

Anyway while we were busy packing, our little man was enjoying his last day of freedom. He had planned it himself: morning spent at the women centre making one of his creation for his friend D, the afternoon at Kalka Mandir on his favourite rides and the evening at a nearby mall to try some new ones. In between all this there was a visit to the Doctor and short stop at the toy shop to buy a ball. A busy day I must say.

I of course was part of the doc/toyshop slot.

In a few hours my little man will leave for school. It has been a hectic and troubled month. When Utpal came for his holidays he was unmanageable: angry, stressed, moody, violent, capricious and dejected. No amount of coaxing or cajoling worked. We were all helpless and lost. Sessions at the psychotherapist were a nightmare. We were walking on eggshells. He had locked himself up in a dark world. He spent his days glued to the idiot box or demanding something or the other. It was to say the least unbearable as we knew the child was hurting but did not know how to express his pain. That is when we decided to meet the psychiatrist and seek help. I am glad we did.

For the past two weeks Utpal has been the tender and loving child he once was. The one everyone fell in love with. His huge and enchanting smile is back 24/7! He is once again his happy self. It is such joy to watch him. I must confess I have spent most of my time with him. Every morning when I go to wake him back I am greeted with hugs and kisses and he is willing to do anything you want him to. The idiot box does not hog all the space now, Utpal spends most of his time creating things: wacky laptops, zany desk organisers and more. He has his art and craft bag that with scissors, staplers paint and so on and carries it everywhere he goes. I simply watch in awe. He often gives me is lopsided smile, the one that lit is face when he was tiny, and the one that could melt the coldest heart. A smile he had lost but now reclaimed. And my heart fills with joy and gratitude. My popples is back into the light.

Apologies for digressing. Yes in a few hours I will wake him up and get yet another special smile. Then he will don his uniform that has been cleaned and ironed and hangs in his cupboard. I hope to catch a few moments with him before the car carries Utpal and his homework back to school. And I will wipe the tears in the corner of my eyes and go back into an empty house.