Readers of Daily (w)rite, if you’re here, please welcome Anouradha Bakshi, my friend, philosopher and touchstone for more than a decade.
She runs Project WHY, a little non-profit with a large heart, in New Delhi.
For this whole week, she’s taking over Daily (w)rite.
Please give her all the love and attention you usually give me, because she merits it far more than I ever will.
Serenity is the state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled. Of equanimity, when you are able to accept whatever comes your way, even if if is not what you wanted.
It has taken me a long while to understand this, and eventually make it a way of life.
Many masters came my way –some spiritual, some not– urging me to look at life with serenity but the pitfalls were many in the early decades of my life. My life was so self-centred, and even a tad empty.
It was only when Project Why came into being that I understood that without serenity, I would not succeed. With Project Why, my actions impacted others; it was no longer a solo journey. There were many stumbling blocks, and the one way to overcome them was to accept those that could not be removed, and move on.
I remember the day we were told we could not teach slum kids in a park as the children were ‘dirty’. In earlier times I would have screamed and held my ground, but on that day I knew it was better to find another space.This is what has enabled Project Why to thrive for almost two decades.
Rani, in spite of her young age when she joined, impressed me with her way of handling situations and always finding the wise way out. She never got bogged down by her personal situation, which was grim, but managed to transform her life and that of her loved ones.
Dharmender never loses his cool. I have seen him handling angry parents or even an entire community, that was on the verge of turning against us, with calm and wisdom. He brought them to his side.
My amazing child Shamika has also been my teacher. She decided at the age of 15 to work with children with special needs and took on her peer group who could not understand why she left her life to work in slums. She handled her detractors with wisdom beyond her age and came out a winner.
Pushpa and Sophiya , my incredible teachers, had the ability to transform garbage dumps into temples of learning– taking on every blow that came their way, not shying from rebuilding the school each time it was brought down, and even cleaning the mess left behind every night by local drunkards.
Each one of them acted with serenity.
I have made serenity my mantra, no matter what life throws my way. I have had my share of misfortunes and hardships, but this attitude has helped me weather the storms.
Everything in perfection
Everything for a purpose
The universe always works in my favour
I allow and surrender
This mantra has allowed me to deal with my partner’s cancer without panic, and find alternative ways of healing that enabled him to bounce back. I could overcome my financial troubles that seemed insurmountable, and give up the house I grew up in without anger or recrimination. All of it passed, and the sun shone again.
Today, I am faced with the prospect of having to shut down a major part of Project Why.
I accept what is to come, and know that it will all be for the best. I simply have to soldier on with serenity!
Do you find it difficult to keep your calm in the face of challenges? How do you find serenity in a turbulent world?
Anouradha Bakshi is the descendant of an indentured labour and a freedom fighter, and the daughter of a senior diplomat. She travelled the world before settling in India.
A professor in French, an interpreter and a conference organiser, she found her true calling when she set up Project WHY in the year 2000.
She is a wife, and a mother not only to her two girls, but also to the scores of children whose dreams she holds in custody.
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