Loving Grace

Loving Grace

One of the few times that I find difficulty in expressing myself is when I am overwhelmed beyond measure. I just feel whatever I say is not enough. I hum and haw and say random things that do not have any relevance to how I actually feel. And when it comes to writing about it, I go into ostrich mode, burying myself in the proverbial sand. Hiding, avoiding and making excuses become my modus operandi. And I say to anyone who cares to hear, that I have a ‘writer’s block’.

Today I am striving to break the block to write about my cousin, Murali Gopalakrishnan. The prelude above was necessary to introduce this special man who had left me temporarily wordless. Whenever I meet him, I say to him that he is amazing and that he is doing so much for humanity in general. But the words feel empty even to my own ears.

He defines omnipotence, a power that comes from his heart. He is here, there and everywhere. Be it for an abandoned granny, or for an orphaned child, or a family member(grieving or sick), or people affected by a natural disaster; he is there! He is always within reach whenever, for whatever and for whoever needing urgent help. Just a call will do and he appears like superman sans the blue costume. His wife Shanthi is his partner in this virtue, who works hand in hand in paving the path of love for many.

Do my words mean anything at all I wonder? I doubt it. Compared to the deed and the physicality of changing compassion into something concrete, ‘words’ fall short of making a real impact. It is an action that moves the world. But words are all that I have and I want to use it to shine a torch on the path that my cousin Murali and his wife have joyously paved.

To contribute monetarily for a cause or to show compassion by shedding tears is easy. But to take up the force of action and to be completely committed to the cause in order to really make a difference is hard. This couple makes it all seem rather easy because of the happiness they derive out of it. The smile and the love in their eyes are enough to confirm this.

I have been to two Diwali functions in this obscure little town of Krishnagiri which is in Tamil Nadu, just beyond the border of Karnataka. I would’ve never ventured into this town if it was not for the Diwali events conducted by ARCOD, the organisation which looks after HIV infected children in that region. Cousin Murali and Shanthi are a big part of this noble endeavour. Being there physically and seeing the brave wonderful children is an experience that’s unforgettable. Having lost one or both the parents to this malady, they are mostly orphaned. Some get looked after by relatives. But there are some who do not have anyone to depend on. ARCOD facility has become their haven. Murali and Shanti have become their mother and father, addressed endearingly as Appa and Amma. It’s heartening to hear them being addressed as such. The children’s education and health are taken care of by ARCOD as well.

Murali says that for him, it all started with Durga. On a visit to Krishnagiri, he saw this little girl who refused to leave her home where she lived with her younger brother. They were orphaned, having lost their parents to HIV infection. His heart went out to them that made him decide to help in whichever way he can.

This is one of many such stories that define Murali. His compassion for human beings, especially children has been his motivating factor. He among a few others have formed a tight group, particularly to promote the welfare of affected girls. There is a home for them now and another home is going to be built with the help of sponsors. Education, medication, food and clothing are all taken care of. Most of the children are thriving. Some have gone on to college studies and some are already working.

When I went for the Diwali events the past two years,  it’s not the show that impressed me. There were intense speeches in Tamil which I am sure were inspiring. But I could not understand them because of my lack of knowledge in the language. There were dances and drums, acrobatics and mimic acts. But I was moved more by the joyful faces of the children. They were all dressed to the hilt. They walked around offering tea and snacks. They would very often go to their Appa and Amma for a hug or handshake. The little ones sat on their laps for a cuddle. Most often my tear ridden eyes strayed from the stage to these gestures.

I just felt grateful to have been a witness to that energy which I carried home with me.

I wish for more success to this couple and all the others who are with them in this significant project.

They are changing the world for the better in their own special way. I would even go as far as to say that they are making a positive shift in the universe.

Mallika Menon

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