“Loneliness in Diwali? In a pensive mood?” Lulu, my parrot asked as he flew in to my room from the window. He settled on my laptop. Parrots empathise with you instantly.
“Thinking about the little girl I met today at an orphanage.”
“What about her?”
“She must be about five years old. Manasi was her name.”
“Was she crying?”
“Was she depressed?”
“Was she remembering her parents?”
“Don’t know, but it looked like she was not remembering them.”
“What bothered you?”
“Something touched me when I heard her story. I can’t say what bothered me. Thinking about it.”
“Tell me” Lulu said as he moved forward.
“I had visited this orphanage earlier so I noted that she was a new entrant. I was told that her father had deserted her mother before she was born. She comes from a very poor family.”
“You mean she never saw her father?” Lulu asked as he hopped on to my shoulder and rubbed his head on it. Parrots have their ways of expressing emotions.
“Sad. Poor girl must never have got parental love and care. Even little kids like her feel loneliness.”
“You said it. Mother Teresa said that loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is poverty! How true!!”
“Man! She must have had the poor people in mind. You can’t equate a child’s loneliness with a grown up man’s. Here Manasi is attacked by the ‘virus’ of loneliness even before she could understand what was happening to her.”
“I guess so.”
“Men are lonely because they build walls around themselves. Manasi is lonely because others have built walls around her. Excluded. That’s the difference. Do you get me?”
“You are right. She was playing with other girls in the orphanage. I spoke to the Supervisor. She said that Manasi was very happy in the orphanage because she had found many friends. That sounds so obvious, but it never occurred to me. Strange.”
“I understand you. You obviously vibed with her because you too were feeling lonely. You said something touched you – it was this common feeling – or you were perhaps ‘projecting’ your feelings on her, as they say.”
“Yes, Dr. Lulu! Never knew that parrots do psycho-analysis! But you know what – she was in a group that did excellent rangoli. We had arranged a rangoli competition for the girls. Their skills were outstanding. Saw the pic?”
“They say loneliness brings out art in the artist. Perhaps it is loneliness which makes you an artist. Children like Manasi pay overwhelming price for becoming an artist. Does anybody feel concerned?”
“Insensitivity and apathy are not in short supply in our society, Lulu.”
“Those are the demons, they are the modern day ‘Narakasur’ – you must kill them on narak-chaturdashi this Diwali. At least in your small little world.” Lulu looked in my eyes for a signal of agreement.
Vivek S Patwardhan