09/01/2006

300 Rupees And A Blind Man

At Manav Sadhna, itís a common site to see people come in asking to see Jayeshbhai. One day, I was milling around when I saw an elderly man come with using a walking stick. It was obvious that the man was blind and as I went to him to offer my assistance, I found out that he was blind in both eyes.

The manís sons did not take care of the man, so he lived with his brotherís sons. Everything was fine at home, but the man did not want to be a financial burden on others. He wanted to support himself through his own sweat and effort. He could do the rope work for wooden bed frames and knew such a business in Palitana would do well. In order to start this business however, he needed 300 rupees. Also given his poverty, he desired clothing and a blanket or two.

Jayeshbhai wasnít around, but I offered him what I could: clothing and blankets and then told the man to return the next day.

The next day, I didnít end up going to Manav Sadhna and Jayeshbhai wasnít there either, but the man returned.

The third day, the man came back, but again Jayeshbhai wasnít at the center at the time. For three days, this man walked from Bapunagar (across Civil Hospital) to Manav Sadhna. As I looked at the man, I knew I had to do something for him. I earn my pocket money by taking part in Manav Sadhnaís Earn ní Learn project and that day we received our monthly pay. I reached into my pocket and counted the bills. 300 rupees exact, not a rupee more or less. I told Jagatbhai what I wanted to do and he simply told me to follow my heart. I gave the money to the man.

Tears filled his eyes.

ďI canít write. But if someone ever offers me their service, Iíll be sure to write you a letter,Ē he said before he left.

While there has been no letter, the lesson he taught me will stay with me forever. The man had a place to live and food to eat, but he did not want to live on anotherís money. He did not view his physical disabilities as a viable reason to burden another. While he was still able, he would live his life with dignity and pride and bear the fruits of his own efforts.

Note from the scribe:
This event also is a testament to changes that Raghu has undergone since coming to Manav Sadhna. Before Raghu came to Manav Sadhna, he was the bully of his neighborhood, getting into at least one fight each day. He comes from a poor family and didnít work. Instead he passed his days doing mischievous deed. Growing up, he and his friends would go to the temple and harass the beggars. While giving them a rupee and they would take a two rupee coin from their begging bowl. The money he earned from the Earn ní Learn Project was his pocket money. He would give some of it to his widowed mother to help with household expenses and use the rest for his own little pleasures, of which the major one is clothing. The money that he gave the man was going to be used to buy new clothes, yet in that moment that thought did not even cross his mind. He reached within and came up with exactly what the man needed.