It was summer and the kids were free from schoolwork and tuition. It was time to enjoy and play. And in the process they make some discoveries…
In the evenings in summer, Rehana, Jintu, Gowri, Sambu, Narayan and the other children who live in the apartment block play inside their compound.
One day as they were playing, they spotted a small injured puppy crying with pain. They felt sorry. Sambu suggested that they take the pup to People For Animals organisation for help. But they did not have enough money. So, they went round to the flat owners and collected just enough funds to take the pup to a veterinarian. They nursed it back to health and named him “Saka”.
Another evening, while playing Gowri spotted a dead bird in a corner. She alerted the others and all of them felt sorry for the mother-bird. Rehana told them that they should bury the bird, so that no predator could eat the carcass. All of them went round to the flats and got permission to bury it in the small garden. As they felt that it might have died of thirst, the children pooled their savings together and bought a birdbath, which was then installed in the garden. Some parents contributed too.
A little girl and boy, whose parents were pavement dwellers, watched all this. Every day the brother and sister would come watch the kids play. One day, Jintu spotted them, and pointed them out to his friends. He persuaded his friends to allow the two to play with them.
When one of the parents objected, all the children told her that the two were just like them. The parent felt rather ashamed. So from then on, with the parents' constant, they included the two kids in their games. It was a treat to see the joy on their faces.
One evening, bored with their usual games, the children decided to ask Janaki aunty, who was a great story-teller, to entertain them with a story.
More than willing, Janaki sat down with the children and began:
An old man walking by the seaside, saw a boy catching star-fish that had been washed ashore by the waves, and throwing them back into the sea.
He approached the boy and laughingly said, “There are hundreds of star-fish struggling on the beach, but here you are trying to save one or two”. The boy replied, throwing another into the sea, “To this one, my effort matters.”
The children looked at her wide-eyed. She explained, “See, children, where for one person caring seems irrelevant, for another it has meaning. Although what people care for may differ, but that they care is universal.”
The children went away, deep in thought. After some noisy discussion, they knew that in saving the puppy and buying a birdbath, they had also shown, in their own small way, that they cared.
The children of the pavement-dweller realised that one didn't need money to be kind —just a big heart.