I woke up to a dreary morning in the small town of Kakinada on the eastern coast of India. Everything this morning held up the promise of a Sunday not unlike any other in the recent past. I had an appointment to keep at a give-away function organized by my company for the distribution of free food packets to HIV infected children from nearby villages; an event that hardly conjured up any prospect to enthuse my spirits. However, I conscientiously regarded it my duty to be present at the function as I am one of the contributors to the fund that supports these children. With these thoughts of dutifulness and an inflated sense of nobility firmly ensconced in my mind, I set out for my destination with my friend and colleague, C N Wong. On our arrival at the site of the function, my spirits were bogged down even more at the sight of the dilapidated building and the gloomy confines in which the function was to be held.
However, when we finally emerged out into the open after more than two hours of the function, my mind lingered on in that dingy room; 0n the faces of the children and their parents and in the whole unfortunate situation that destiny has cast them into. I had expected to see a whole bunch of morose children with despondent countenances that implored for rescue from their state of misery. Such a sight might have justified the images that I had harbored in my mind. But what I saw and experienced was totally the contrary. As soon as we entered the room, we were greeted by sounds of excitement and chirpy laughter of a group of children in their early childhood, blissfully unaware of the dark uncertainty that has come upon their lives through a cruel quirk of fate. The way the little children pranced and jumped about in excitement as they played various games or the pure cheer on their faces when they were presented with gifts were sights that moved me deeply. They reminded me of my own fun-filled childhood days. All my sense of false nobility at my contribution for the well-being of these children evaporated in an instant, only to be replaced by a feeling of helplessness that filled my being at my inability to do more to retain the cheer in the minds and beings of these innocent souls for as long they desire; to defeat the forces of nature that are threatening to deprive them of a life as full of happiness and prosperity as any other child in this world deserves to have. The gay abandon, cheer and excitement with which the children talked, laughed and played only accentuated my feeling of sadness for their plight.
I cannot claim to be a die-hard follower of religion and all its associated rituals, but I have always had an unshakeable faith in Divine justice. Yet, I have always found it hard to justify certain events such as the cruel deaths of innocent children in riots, robberies, terrorist acts and accidents. Today, the sight of these innocent children being cruelly incarcerated in the clutches of fate revived in me my frustrations at the apparent inequity of Divine justice, and left me searching for answers to my perennially unanswered questions yet again. I can only hope that I will find satisfactory answers to my questions during my lifetime, and hope that, someday, the sight of the godly, uninhibited cheer in the faces of children will cease to be marred by the cruel machinations of fate.
I returned from the function with my mind a bit more burdened with thoughts of the incurable miseries of this world but certainly more enriched than when I set out. It has been a Sunday I will remember for some time to come.