More than a smile
Anveer Mehta from Goa was with us for a few weeks – and he really engaged with the kids. I am happy he shared this story! Thanks Anveer!
In the October of 2015, I had realized that I had just made one of the best decisions of my life by going to the village of Janwaar.
I arrived in Janwaar early in October and stayed there for about four to five weeks. This was truly a beautiful experience with so much to offer. I still remember very vividly my first day at the skatepark. As we got out of our car, all the children ran towards us with beaming smiles and so much happiness in their eyes. I was a complete to stranger to them but I received the warmest welcome ever. So yes, I stayed extremely overwhelmed since the moment I got there 🙂
I spent most of the days at the skatepark with all the children, skating, playing and just being part of their world. It might be a small one, but it was a really happy one. To pick a favourite friend out of the so many that I made there would be really tough, but I’d still like to say a little something about one of them.
One of the sweetest of the lot, Deepa became a good friend of mine. It’s funny how much you can learn from children sometimes. All you have to do is be open to their questions and reply honestly. Their willingness to learn something new and go a step ahead is charged with positivity. There lie so many aspirations in this young girl who once said to me that when she grows up she’d like to study more and go and help other people. Even at the skatepark Deepa would willingly share her skateboard with other children and offer to help with the younger ones whenever asked of her.
Deepa is one of the better skaters among the girls at Janwaar Castle but had never dared to drop from the 8 feet quarter pipe at Janwaar Castle. I still remember how she would stand for 15 to 20 minutes on the top thinking if she should do it not. It was really amusing to see her try. I would keep pushing her to do it and she would keep asking me to hold her hand while she made an attempt. It was good to know that these children trusted me so much. I felt like I belonged at that skatepark everyday when I spent time there with them.
Anveer, Sepi and Deepa
We would all usually stop skating by about 10:15 am as school would start at 11:00 am. It was such a task getting them to school but it was just so much fun. I would often have to personally walk them all to school and always have Deepa and another one of the children hang from each arm of mine all the way from the skatepark to the school.
She would insist on a daily basis that I come visit her house and meet her family, so one day before heading back home I did. It feels so good to know how you’ve come to a new place and been accepted into their home with open arms. It was small moments like these that drew me closer to the children and the place. Before I left Janwaar, I remember Deepa running up to me with teary eyes wearing my cap (which she always did) and said to me “Aap jab jaaoge, mujhe bohot bura lagega (When you leave, I will feel very bad)” and while saying this she handed me a card with a colorful drawing and her name written across it. It was the sweetest thing ever.
Saying bye to these children surprisingly got really hard to do at the end of my visit. I really hope I go back really soon and see them all again. When I reached Bombay a few days later, I received a very unexpected call. Little Deepa on the other end of the phone call brought to my face the biggest smile. She called to say that she missed me a lot and to ask when I would come back again, and about what the city looked like.
This little one is as cute as they come. Always a smiling face and always zooming around the skatepark if not asking questions. So obedient and caring, I know she works hard at school and realizes very well how education can change her life. I hope she’s making good use of her new skateboard so that when I see her next, she has a trick or two to show off with.