As a child, whenever I used to visit the restaurants in the Park Street area with my parents, what disturbed me the most , were the children begging on the streets…children standing out of the restaurant, staring at the food we were eating inside the air conditioned comfort…children being ill treated by people, just because they were footpath dwellers and beggars!
As a child I used to feel the difference of their lives with mine and would ask a question to God about this disparity! As a child I had taken up an oath to bring a smile on the faces of these not so privileged children, whenever I grow up!
Keeping that childhood oath in mind, I have run to every corner,wherever and whenever I got an opportunity, to bring some amount happiness in the lives of these children of the Lesser Gods!
Over the years, I have developed a strong bond with the children, who spend their lives on the footpaths of Park Street. Some have grown old enough to leave the city to work elsewhere like Akram,Salman, Zeeshan, Prashant!Some are in their teens now, on the verge of finishing school like Bablu, Shaheen, Faisal, Shamim, Sajid! Some are tiny tots like Dilshaan, Amin, Ramzaan, Sadia, Zaira, Nandini !I keep a regular touch with all of them, as well as those who are the very young ones and are the recent inclusion of my Park Street Army!
I like to spend the festive occasions with them, trying to make them happy, trying to fulfill some of their dreams, if not all, within my means.
Every year they wait eagerly for me, on those special days, to come and spend time with them. Diwali is such a special day!
This Diwali I had planned to include the active soldiers, of my anti addiction campaign too…as they had always wanted to come with me, to this special Diwali celebration…with my special friends of Park Street!
Sumit Bhattacharya(Salt Lake Point School – Class 8)
Ankit Seth(South End Centre – Class 9)
Ritam Mukherjee(Julien Day School, Kalyani – Class 7)
Sampurna Mukherjee(Julien Day School, Kalyani – Class 7)
These active soldiers of mine , not only accompanied me, but they also contributed from their pocket money and the money they would burn on fire crackers, to spend it for making the Diwali of our Special Friends at Park Street… very very ‘Special’!!
When we reached Park Street, as usual they were very ecstatic to see me, after lockdown, along with my active soldiers! I noticed that many of the children and their parents didn’t have masks!
So firstly all of them were lined up, their hand sanitized and masks were distributed to each of them!
Then we all walked merrily to New Market to buy clothes, shoes etc.for them.
While walking back to Park Street I generally ask them, where they would like to eat! At times it was KFC, at times it was MacDonalds, but this year the popular vote went to Wow Momo. It turned out that most of them beg just outside Wow Momo restaurant and wonder what the taste of a fried momo would be like! Their wish was my command!
As they were changing into their new clothes, I had a talk with the manager of Wow Momo, who agreed to give us one hour to accommodate all the children, their guardians and us, in the lower and upper levels of the restaurant!
When all of them entered the restaurant,looking bright and vibrant in their new clothes and the food was served, their happiness knew no bounds! It was an emotional moment for all of us to see them so happy and so satisfied!
When they all shouted “Happy Diwali Bobby Bhaiya”, it felt like the best Diwali wish from anyone, because it was a wish from their uncomplicated heart!
After that we bid farewell to our special friends of Park Street and drove back, feeling extremely happy inside , to bring such a big smile on all their faces, promising them to meet up very soon again!
Our Diwali this year, even in this gloomy Corona scenario, was truly a happy one!
I thank the parents of all my active soldiers – Mr. & Mrs. Bhattacharya, Mr. & Mrs. Seth , Mr. & Mrs. Mukherjee – for always encouraging their children to join hands with me selflessly, for doing such good things, constructive things for the society and humanity.
Video link to the whole celebration:-