It was a casual day at the college, and we had just finished with our quota of lectures for the day (9 am to 5 pm with just an hour’s break). I jabbed at my good friend, Maddy (I always tell him that this hipster nickname doesn’t really do justice with Madhusudan), and asked him if he would be joining us for football later in the day. His response? Nahi, aaj se padhane jaana hai. Naturally, I responded with ‘Accha kitne paise de rahe hain?‘ I had never anticipated what he was about to say to me next, ‘No money, social service’.
There are those in the world who work to make their lives better, rarely will you find those who work to make the world a better place for the lives of a billion others. Often he tells me that to clean the drain, you must get your hands dirty first. So every single day, he wakes up at 8, reaches class before me, attends more lectures than I ever could, sits on the first bench and listens to the professors till 5. And after all that toil and effort, he dashes off at six to a slum nearby, gathers the children around him and starts teaching them the nous of Mathematics and Science. Not just that, he takes the responsibility of enrolling the kids in government schools. Of course, he is not alone in his venture, as Mahaveer and Jaswinder support him very ably, while others have come and gone.
Do you know how they teach the kids there? On a whiteboard, which is actually a white chart paper, covered with plastic, in an empty discarded room nearby. These guys, they buy copies, books, pencils and erasers from their own pockets for these kids who cannot afford them. And, without fail, they teach them two hours every single day. Such is the dedication of these shining knights. They call it very aptly the Vision 2020, they have no connections to any NGOs, no funding from the college, no certificates to gain from this enterprise, nothing. My good friend Maddy in fact chooses not to eat at a Dominos or a McDonald’s for the simple reason that the money can be used to buy books for kids instead. If that does not deserve a salute, I do not know what does.
When I see men capable of such sacrifice, possessing such noble intentions, I just know for a fact that India’s youth has infinite potential. I hope that our leaders can take inspiration from actual leaders such as these guys, and the youth can spend less time ogling at women or pretending to be cricketers/rock-stars, and more time doing something real for the education and poverty.
I am convinced that if he continues with the same dedication and passion, someday, my very own Maddy will be known in the world as Father Teresa! Or maybe something better.