Contributed by: Franziska Litwinski
Dated: 25th February 2013
This sudden thought “boom” – getting at me out of nowhere, unexpectedly, making me swallow hard, and pressing my lips: “Soon, all this will be over, this is the last time…” Watching the evening sun-lit landscape passing by on the way back, a happy-sad tear rolled down my cheeks, after this fabulous Sunday the KHEL team spent with the girls from Lalbagh Children’s Home at Indira Dam last week …mastering the arts of saying good bye – I’m really bad at it. I try to capture, to cherish, to take in…I accept the situations, but I can’t help but suffer through them to a certain extent.
“Time flies, only yesterday was the time of our lives…” Adele sings…and it is true – how exactly did it happen, that my 4 ½ months with KHEL are already over? Wasn’t it just…last month that I arrived? On the day of writing this, it will be exactly 18 weeks that I went to MAMTA for my very first session. 18 weeks…around 80 sessions, basketball, Kho-Kho, volleyball, relays, football, and so many fun life-skill games. Besides, uncountable hours spent in office, having Maggi prepared in a kettle, or lunch after MAMTA at our favourite dhaba, discussing sessions, evaluation, work organisation. And part of these days, having frozen feet, longing for a hot chai, because it was too cold (I admit, I never thought I would be freezing this much in INDIA ). And all this – passing by in an instant.
The other day, suddenly a thought struck my mind: “Now is everything”, it goes along the lines of the Winnie-the-Pooh cartoon Akshai Sir posted recently: “What day is it?” asks Pooh – “It’s today.” answers Piglet – “My favourite day,” said Pooh. I am, and will probably always be, in between cherishing the moments, living the “now”, letting go of the past – and learning from it, pondering upon it, and wondering about the future. Cherish the moment, and keep the past in your heart, learn from it, but don’t let it spoil your present.
One reason for me to come to India was to experience what it feels like to live and work in a culture which is quite different from my own. The KHEL team represents the core of this, all of them having become friends. And, as it is bound to happen, we shared moments of uncontrolled laughter, of long conversations, of comfortable silences, but also faced difficulties, misunderstandings, bad moods, uncertainty – only to make up again. I learnt a lot, especially crucial things about myself, mostly things I am yet to implement and work on. And I feel deep gratitude for the patience, space, learning everyone of the team was willing to give.
And then, there are the kids…the first hint of a good bye was already before Christmas, when one of the boys of ehsaas mentioned that him and two others might not be there any more after the holidays. And it…touched me, already then I had developed a link to them, and I felt regret at the thought I might not be able to say good bye to them. Turned out that all three of them were still there, after returning, which I welcomed with a relieved smile then. But then, some three weeks ago, one of the boys from Ehsaas got shifted on short notice, we didn’t know before. Only afterwards did we learn that he no longer stays there, and so cannot take part in our sessions anymore. So during the session last week when – again – going over the attendance list and reading out his name – I flinched. Gone was his face which, just like that, made me smile so easily, so honestly.
It is okay that everything has its own time, our lives consist of phases, but it troubles me to not be able to say good bye. In order to deal with an end, I need some time, to be conscious about it, then I can let go, and it becomes a cherished, irreplaceable memory. It was in those incidents, that I realized that these unforeseen losses make up a big part of social work with children. We never know, we can never be sure how long they will be part of it. So let’s capture, and fill the present.
A second thought concerning the KHEL kids is that I wonder what will happen to them, what their future looks like, what they will be in one year, or ten. What all will they take from our sessions? Are we able to help them? To support them to master their lives? And in this way, my past and present, mixes with their future, hopefully, to create a future in which “the cloak of the past is wrapped around them for comfort” (on the basis of G.D. Roberts SHANTARAM).