This pandemic has changed the world as we know it, there is no doubt about that. But as many of us scramble to find our bearings in the midst of this tornado, some are trapped right in the centre as the concentric circles of chaos close in on the world. These are the people most affected by the lockdown. The people stretching out their hands—or paws—hoping that someone will hold it. They are out there, for everyone to see, if only they choose to. — I saw.
For the last 19 years, I have been feeding stray dogs. I started my company, ‘Gifting Happiness’ to raise money for old age homes and animal shelters, and have been dividing my profits between the two ever since. Once the lockdown started, it has been no different; I have been venturing out every day to feed stray dogs, attaching bowls of water to gates with an apparatus that re-fills the bowl once it is empty. I have also been feeding the people on the streets around my area. I knew it was a risk to go out this much, but I was doing what I saw as my duty as a citizen, thus, I took extra precautions—including shaving my head—to ensure my 90-year-old father and I remain safe. Nevertheless, I was leaving the house frequently, and I wanted to do as much as I can in these troubling times. And that is when I began working with Project Mumbai.
Since then, I try to deliver groceries, other essentials or even home-cooked food to senior citizens in my area as often as possible. People have reached out to me on social media, opening up about their situations and asking if I can help. I connected these people with Project Mumbai, knowing they will do whatever possible to support as many people as they can.
I love doing what I do—but I don’t have a specific word for what that is. ‘Helping’ people? No. That word takes something away from the intrinsic values of an interdependent society. I am a part of a larger society, after all, and that always involves a give-and-take of some kind. If any one of us puts ourselves on a pedestal, we are separating ourselves from society, and by making ourselves outsiders we end that crucial give-and-take.
I give food, and I get the satisfaction of knowing that fewer people—and canines—are sleeping on an empty stomach.
I give my time, and in return I got something to think about, plan for.
I got a purpose.