Renu's Week

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Report of 14 Dec '09

Hello from the Banyan -

First of all, my deepest apologies. I don't usually beg for bucks for the Banyan or anyone else through my writing; I usually give a contact in case anyone wants to donate. However, this past week, matters changed. As an updated wish list for the Banyan was put in place, the able coordinator of Adaikalam (our residential facility housing 250 mentally ill, destitute women), Vanitha, mentioned that a pipe had broken and there was no money to repair it. Vanitha might be 30 years old at the most, and has been a senior coordinator for a few years now, that's how capable and passionate she is. She and I stepped out to take a look, and stared up at a spot about 20 feet off the ground where a pipe had developed a break and was spraying liquid. Not very much fazes Vanitha, and we resolved to do something about it posthaste, thus the desperate email. We are desperate. Vanitha and I could go home to our families after a day's work, but 250 destitute women and 30+ staff had to stay on in a compound that had sewage stagnating on one side. So the frantic appeal was sent out, and thanks to all those of you who could help. I understand completely if you cannot; the economy cannot really offer a lot of extra bucks for charity.

Life is fairly one constant episode of busy-ness. I haven't read in a while, I haven't managed to finish the daily newspaper - a requirement for me. However, I work in a place taking care of those others would spurn (does the Bible not say something about this?), I have a husband who does not beat the tar out of me, I have sons that are steadily inheriting the desire to change life for those who are afflicted by poverty, I have relatives (on both Scott's and my sides) who maintain relations with me, and I have a roof over my head that does not leak. These are, by golly, great blessings.

Ms. Ma with the happy smile and the back pain is better! I had asked that an analgesic cream be massaged into her back, and that appeared to have improved matters. Ms. Ma does speak a little Hindi, and comprehends well though her speech is stilted; when I asked her how many idlis she had eaten one morning, she held up 3 fingers and said, "Theen (three)." So she does comprehend, and does communicate. I looked at her intake history, and there is no mention of her family. Either she could not tell us their details clearly enough, or she does not know them. We do not know if anyone is looking for her; I regretfully suspect not. She is mentally ill, might be mentally challenged, cannot communicate conventionally, and some families view such folks as huge liabilities. But they haven't seen this smile, and the way she takes my hand and leads me into the sick room, and her earnest manner in answering me when I ask about her breakfast. I am not a huge believer in God, for various reasons, but looking at her and seeing her therapeutic place in my life convinces me as nearly as possible about the presence of a God.

I was fortunate to have an impromptu lunch at the home of my neighbor, Sushmita. I *love* eating others' cooking. I had finished using the Internet at her place when she offered me tea; I declined but said, "You know what, though, I am really hungry." She offered me lunch, as most folks will, and we ate rice and dhal and okra (called "ladies' finger" here), while her 5 yo and 3 yo played near us. It was inordinately good fun. Sush's maid, Ms. K, is a remarkable sort: having been abandoned by her husband (a not-uncommon occurrence here) a while ago, she has educated her daughters. Her older one is finishing up a degree in math, and the younger one appears to have a learning disability and has stopped school after 8th grade, now learning a trade. Sush's mother-in-law, Usha, a very dear friend and also a neighbor, had phoned me about the younger girl one day and described disabling belly pain. After some questions, I had to take a best guess, as I often do when I can't see the patient, and prescribed an anti-spasm pill; it appears to have worked, and the young lady is better. Ms. K was full of thanks, and I felt that was unnecessary: I had merely done my job and my giant reward was that my patient was better and someone with absolutely not one extra rupee or even an extra paisa had been helped. One day, Ms. K said to me, "There isn't even anyone to ask how I am," and I thought that was sad, and thought again about how much I had.

Some fine times last week - Naren's play was staged. Total of 10 performances, last 2 days on now. The first day was so-so, as is common in the world of theatre, but as the days wore on and the cast started to jell together and "feel it," the production turned into a magnificent, irreverent, funny and interactive event - a true pantomime. Naren sang and danced, enjoying himself, and we heckled him and others at times from the audience. The great joy for me was that one of the cast heckled back, and it was hilarious! All laughed at that, and it made my day. Naren wandered into the audience one day and danced with me. It was fun. The best part is that all the bucks from this venture go towards helping underprivileged children go to college, and that is a cause very dear to our hearts. Several beneficiaries return to help in the production, also warming my heart, and this year, we heard the news that one of them, now working, has been sent by his company to the U.S. Oooohhhh!!! What just rewards for the young man, how nice that Aysha Rau thought of Little Theatre to so assist.

My father was in town for some other event and caught the play, my sister and her family also joined us, and we had dinner at our house last night for all + my brother and a cousin. It was a fun time, and I was grateful for this bonhomie.

Unw -



  • Hi Renu: I was browsing through my own memory and google, and found this blog. Is this really you, from our old RACE days? I am deeply humbled by what you are doing. I started with one blog and kept going, from one story to another. Just amazing. --Sudha

    By Anonymous Sudha Swaminathan, at 16/12/09 7:40 AM  

  • Hi Sudha!

    Yes, it is me. Nice to hear from you. Drop me a line when you can.


    By Blogger Renu Weiss, at 16/12/09 7:25 PM  

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