All Festivities narrow down to entertaining a society, shrouded under celebrating the glories of various gods and goddesses. Being a child, Diwali used to mean, the excitement for a week before the actual day, long discussions on the kind of crackers to buy with fellow mates, waking up in a foggy Diwali morning clouded with the smoke of firecrackers, smell of sweets, new clothes and laughter of visiting friends and relatives.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others- Mahatma Gandhi
All set to go:
The camp was scheduled to kick start at around 8.00 A.M in the morning on Sunday. We boarded the bus after everyone’s arrival. The team comprised of 50 boys and 45 girls from various departments, accompanied by NSS faculty in charges – Dr. C. Deivaraj and Dr. T. Vasanthi. Excitement prevailed among us as the bus cruised through the highways. As for me, anxiousness prevailed, since it was my first camp.
We set our foot on the ground before “Sathiya Ammaiyar memorial Orphanage” at 9 A.M and I was given a shovel the very next moment. I did not know its significance until later. More about the place; it was actually a school run by the government along with an orphanage, the hostel being a few blocks away. The school was small and adequate with basic facilities, with wild weed grown all over and a slightly big hole in the compound wall. It was nested within the housing units rather than being isolated away.
Groups were formed to check everything on the to-do list we carried along. One group set out to mason the broken wall; another to repair the plumbing systems on the roof and the remaining dedicated themselves to de-root the weed forest. I belonged to the last group. Being armed with a shovel each, we got on to the task of clearing the ground. The job lasted for about 4 hours and I must accept that it was completely perspiring, strenuous and challenging which left us weary and tired. What was awesome was the fact that none of us retired to rest besides being exhausted.
The group working on the wall and pipes did an excellent job making use of the hollow blocks, PVC pipes and other materials which were brought from the hostel. The boys built the wall by mixing the raw materials to form the mortar in the right consistency, which was a testimony to the experiences they would have gained from the previous camps.
Another group dedicated themselves in interacting with the students there. They conducted many events including dancing and singing for the young minds. All I could see on their faces was whitish glee. Also, they delivered a motivational speech aimed at guiding the students for SSLC and HSC exams and other miscellaneous things.
As if our sweat weren’t enough to moisturize the land, the heavenly clouds also bestowed upon the land, cool drops of water. The rain soon turned our job twice harder, turning the grounds muddy and slippery. As it was raining, we gained shelter under the roofs of the school. This was the first time I actually noticed what the kids were up to.
On the farther corner of the school’s premise, unobstructed by trees and its branches, few kids were playing with balloons. Call it exaggeration or overstatement, but, that was one of the best things I have ever seen in my life. Unbridled joy and fathomless elation; what else constitutes beauty? The merriness that prevailed there was exquisite and their joviality lightened the already cool atmosphere.
Camp getting much better:
After the rain stopped, we resumed our work till 1.30 P.M. Later, everybody was served with food prepared in the hostel mess. After lunch, we distributed the goodies we had bought for the kids that included carom boards, chess boards, shuttle rackets and stationary materials. We took the much needed break by assembling inside a classroom and having the ice breaker session. Sharing the day’s experience and a few treasured memories of camping from the past made the break fun filled. After that, the boys finished their pending works; painting the blackboard and giving the final touches for the newly built wall. Since the clearing of the ground was done, saplings were planted to ensure the greenery there.
Diwali well celebrated:
We bid bye to the kids and started our journey back. The rain was back and it was in its full swing. After what was a really fabulous day, we headed towards our respective homes, with satisfaction in mind and delight in our hearts, in having had a great Diwali and more to that, a divergent Diwali this year. When I sit back and think of the camp, not a single moment of sting recapitulates and the memories which do spring up are only the sweet nectar of ecstasy derived from the fruity labor and the lit-up faces of the kids there.
Happiness doesn’t result from what we get but from what we give. - Ben Carson