Scene One: Conference Hall in a beautiful heritage hotel…There is a banner which says ‘ Giving Back to Society: The Innumerable Ways !’
People milling around. The smart youth, in latest fashions. Camera men, journalists, participants with their ID cards.
A sudden flurry of activity when the Chief Guest arrives.Bouquets , flashes of camera, voices…
Cut to back of the room…A tall man, in his late twenties, sits quietly. He is looking at the speakers on the podium. He gazes at one face and is lost in memories.
On the podium.
Compère: ‘And now, we would like to invite Mrs. Karuna Menon to share her experiences as a counsellor and rehabilitation specialist dealing with juvenile delinquents for many decades.’
A young woman steps forward and manoeuvres a wheel chair towards the mike. There is a poignant sigh rising from the audience. The woman in the wheel chair is around seventy, with a shock of white hair. She is radiant and cheerful.
Mrs Menon : Dear friends on the dais and beloved members of the audience! Thank you for giving me a chance to highlight the need for sensitivity towards juvenile delinquents. No child is born a criminal…As members of the society in which she or he lives, we are responsible for nurturing that soul to the proper heights it can aspire to. For that, we should stop looking at juvenile delinquents as evil. We should learn to open our eyes and see them for what they are: children fighting for survival.
Then she continues with her speech.
Back of the room. The man, lost in memories…
The Q&A session begins.
Raised hands: hyper smart questions, cynical queries, opinions disguised as questions…Mrs.Menon answers with grace and humility.
Slowly, the man raises his hand. He gets up.
Compère: Yes, sir… please ask your question.
Man: I stand here as a testimony to the great work of Mrs. Karuna Menon. I was a drug addict in my teenage. A very dangerous juvenile delinquent who stole his own mother’s jewellery. This lady, she saved my life. When the whole world hated me, she opened her home to the likes of me. Madam, thank you.
There is a ruffling sound, as many heads turn to gaze at the man. Slowly, someone begins to applaud. Mrs.Menon, in her wheel chair, stares unbelievingly at the tall man.
‘ Thank you, thank you,’ she murmurs, overwhelmed. She beckons the man to come forward.
He moves. He climbs the steps to the podium. And hugs the woman in the wheel chair.
Mrs.Menon: Ravi! Where were you, all this while? How many years, now? Thirteen, fourteen? You never got in touch!
Man: I had to do something worthwhile before coming back to you, right?
Compère: Sir, the audience would like to know more!
The audience is on their feet now. It is a standing ovation for both the mentor and the protege.
Man: There is nothing more to tell. I was lost, she saved me. I have started a company which is into skill development. We actively work with prisoners released from jails and delinquents who are released from Homes. We help them get dignified employment.
Compère: What is the name of your firm?
Man: ( Smiles) Karuna, or Compassion.
He bends and touches the lifeless feet of Mrs.Karuna Menon.