Ananya was 14 years of age but her love was boundless. A truly special child she made everyone feel special. She was ever ready with a comforting word and willing to reach out to one and all. She had a special knack while dealing with wounded, abandoned birds and animals. She would never refer to them as strays for she felt they belonged to God as did the flowers, trees, clouds, and rain. Simple childlike logic which silenced her mother when she brought home any creature that needed help before being rehabilitated.
Folks in her neighbourhood referred to her as little Mother Teresa…or Angel Ananya!
Somehow or the other wounded creatures caught her attention while it would completely escape the note of all others. Whether it was an injured pigeon being cornered by dogs or a cow with a gaping wound or a hawk with a broken wing or a puppy with a maggot wound, she somehow saw to its rescue. For her, going to a circus was never entertainment as the animals suffered through training and travel and were not looked after well. Animals in zoos turned insane, especially big animals being locked up in small cages. She had seen a bear banging its head on the walls of its tiny enclosure.
She wondered aloud to her mother – how would we feel if we were locked up for ever and ever?
One day Ananya’s father, tried to stop her, perhaps stressed after a hard day at work. Grim faced, extremely annoyed, he lashed out at her and asked her to put a stop to bringing home stray, wounded animals, though she did try her utmost to find them a home later. When he had finished his tirade, she was still and quiet.
Exasperated, he asked her, “Why do you do all this? Why can’t you be like other children your age?”
She looked up at her father even as she nursed the wings of an injured bird with haldi (turmeric) and said, “You gave me shelter, Dad. You brought me home from the orphanage. I was an abandoned child. I felt unloved until you and Mom held me close, gave me a sense of belonging and showered me with love.
I am too small to adopt a human child as yet and don’t know the rules, but I felt puppies, kittens and birds too had feelings. This is what I have learnt in Swami’s Bal Vikas classes too. Dad, you filled me with love, I am only giving out the love you gave me…”
That stunned her father. Memories were revived.
He had adopted her years ago but had forgotten she was not of his flesh and blood. With tears, he hugged her and told her how special she was. His daughter had taught him a lesson he seemed to have forgotten while living in the fast lane of life…
Love is our natural inheritance. In most children, love flows easily till adults around them put speed breakers and full stops in front of this natural flow, by projecting their own fears, dislikes and apprehensions into these young and impressionable minds, inhibiting their inborn courage, understanding, loving and fearless ways.
Children are constantly hearing grownups telling them ‘don’t do this’, ‘don’t do that’. Their vulnerable psyche gets a battering with – if you don’t listen, ‘so and so’ will come and get you. Fear seeps into their consciousness, fear of circumstances, certain categories of human beings, dread of insects and animals, that plague their subconscious for the rest of their life span or perhaps retained as phobias through lifetimes to come.
While interacting with these young buds we must choose our words with care.
Many a time children can teach us a lesson through their innocent uncomplicated ways and simple unbiased understanding.
(The above writing appeared in the July ’09 issue of the Pune Youth Newsletter dedicated at the Lotus Feet of Beloved Bhagawan)