There is an ancient saying that says the left hand should not know what the right hand gives away. There is an ancient Indian thought which asks men to give away 25% of their income towards charity and societal uses. Our ‘Puranas’ have always held people who are benevolent, philanthropic and socially conscious in very high esteem. Today’s pace of existence and the demand for personal growth and achievement leaves very little room for the practices of such thought. Though one sees acts of kindness and generosity, one rarely sees people who ‘give till it hurts’. A recent incident left me contemplating on the greatness of people who are silent and unheard of, but do what they feel will benefit mankind.
A couple of months ago, Mr Varadarajan, one of our first well-wishers and donors, mentioned to me that Ms Sharadamma, a close friend of his mother-in-law was contemplating on donating her house in Bangalore to SVYM. I was taken aback on hearing this and was unsure of how to respond. Knowing how old she was, I suggested that she could sell the house and keep the money for her upkeep and donate some amount of the sale proceeds to us. Some time later, my mother-in-law who was the classmate of Ms Sharadamma’s sister called and reminded me that we had to complete the formality of this donation. I now knew that Ms Sharadamma was very keen and serious about what she wanted to do. She had explicitly asked my mother-in-law to communicate the urgency as her health was failing and her recovery from a stroke was not very encouraging.
I first met Ms Sharadamma in 1990. I was collecting funds for our Kenchanahalli Hospital and Mr Varadarajan was helping me with this. Every evening, he would take me around to meet with his friends and relatives who would offer support. We had also met his in-laws who were very encouraging and supportive. That was when his mother-in-law asked me to meet her friend Sharadamma. She was indeed a wonderful person to meet and interact with. She was not only encouraging me on, but also started talking about our work to her many students who adored and admired her. Soon her students started visiting Brahmagiri and Kenchanahalli. Ms Sandhya, one of her former students was instrumental in organizing the annual summer camp at Hosahalli. Ms Sharadamma was in regular touch with me from then on and invited me to address her students at the Maharani’s college at Bangalore. She would always remember to send in her donation without fail every year. It was indeed special that she thought about SVYM when it came to donating her house.
She was a teacher-educator all her life and was deeply committed to her students and to the cause of education. Being a spinster, she was of the firm conviction that she had to shape and build the destiny of India through the good work of her many students. She had put her life’s savings into building this house in the early 70s in Bangalore and is now living with her sister Ms Lakshmi Narasu, another donor of ours. I met her last Wednesday, when the formal registration of the gift deed was done and felt sad at her frail and shriveled self. Her memory and clarity of thought stood out as always, though I found her emotionally labile. She was keen on this donation, as she wanted her legacy of supporting the cause of education to carry on. She was keen that death would not come in the way of what she believed in and wanted to make sure that she completed all the processes when was still alive. What a remarkable person and what conviction and clarity of thought! She hardly thought about herself and what she would do, but was only keen that we would accept her gift and put it to use immediately.
SVYM is indeed privileged to have such supporters and one feels humbled thinking about the large-heartedness of such noble people. It is indeed our good fortune that we have the blessings of people of the caliber and intent as Ms Sharadamma. It is people like her that give us courage, moral strength and the will to carry on despite all the challenges that we face. Thank you Ms Sharadamma; we assure you that we will not let you down.