Sunday, December 8, 2013

Good hearts, good deeds

Two strangers are brought together, through no other explanation, but God.

Six years ago she was in Kathmandu; he roamed the tourist district begging for money when not sniffing glue.  Walking in Thamel one night a boy no more than nine hugged her tightly never to let go until she would fork up a few rupees.  Instead, she offered to take him to a restaurant for daal bhat, of which he, with 15 street friends who invited themselves, gladly partook.  She saw him again days after, stoned.  Shocked, she yelled, "Kumar! What are you doing? You promised me that you will stop sniffing glue!"  "And you, what do you do to send me to school?" Off-guarded she replied, "Do you really want to study?"  "Yes."

Today in one of her weekend visits, Amandine, with Najia and son Mael, and I came to see Kumar.  He is now 15, bespectacled (after a cataract operation), of frail frame but with a sharp mind and pretty good english.  He fetched for us his two favorite books while we were in the library, in a spacious compound which he shares with 200 other children, and boys and girls of varying ages.  Einstein's Miraculous Years and Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poppypants were his top picks.  Before that he showed the coffee table book on Nelson Mandela and the autobiography of MK Gandhi, which he is reading, and quick to respond when asked who these persons were and why he is reading them.

The story of Kumar is heartbreaking. He lost his parents at one-and-a-half years old, only to be turned over to an abusive uncle when the orphanage could no longer support itself and had to close.  At seven, he braved the two-day bus from Biratnagar to Kathmandu, accepting food from fellow passengers.  The story of Kumar and Amandine is moving.  He said to her that before their chance second meeting that he had just gone to church to pray for a mum.  Yes, he believes in Jesus, but "I am secular", his own words at our chat today.  Amandine beams and wells up hearing him so unexpectedly articulate about a lot of things -- transformed.  I see in her eyes and expressions the immeasurable feeling of deep joy and gratitude of her own transformation through Kumar.

Last week he gave mum a handwritten poem after he had read a book about Plato. The fourth stanza goes, "Greatness of mind is hard to achieve without a bit of madness. A successful life is harder to live without the mixture of failure and sadness".

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