Rulers of the heart

Rulers of the heart

In the 1967 film, King of Hearts, a World War I soldier, separated from his battalion wanders into a small village, which is totally deserted, leave for inmates of a mental asylum. The villagers, fearing an attack by enemy forces, have fled, leaving behind the mentally handicapped patients, who were regarded as totally disposable, for even their wardens abandon them. Such an attitude is widespread in our society, where the marginalised section is often left to fend for itself. But thankfully several NGOs have taken upon themselves to attend to the needs of this oft-ignored fragment of our social order. Like city-based NGO Sevadham.

A few weeks ago, about 25 women inmates, accompanied by TMH staff that included medical professionals and social workers (all women) from Sevadham spent a fun day near the sea. The troop parked itself at a resort near Aqsa beach which is owned by the JJ Nursing Association and is a lent only to NGOs that serve the poor and the marginalised. For the inmates of TMH, who spend theirs days confined within the boundaries of TMH, this was a welcome break. "The objective of taking them for a picnic is to give these inmates a break from their monotonous lives. Besides, being near water has a therapeutic effect on them – it helps them release their tensions," a Sevadham volunteer revealed.

The shallow pond in the resort became their playground as the inmates participated in a number of sports and games that were played inside the pond. Later, the drenched women, who did not have spare clothes, dried themselves under the sun. There were other games too, like poking straws in the head and collecting scattered marbles. There was a dancing session, wherein the inmates let their hair loose literally. From 8 am to 4 pm, the women inmates had a ball of a time. When it was time to wind up the unwinding session, the inmates expressed their desire to want more. A unanimous question from the inmates was, "When’s our next picnic?"

Hearing about the wonderful time that the ladies had, the staff of TMH requested Sevadham to organise a similar trip for the male inmates too. So coming Tuesday, it’s the turn of the male inmates to enjoy, play games, splash water and dance merrily. The reason why medical staff accompanies volunteers is because these patients need to be attended to at all times, though the experience of volunteers suggests that such outings are usually trouble-free as inmates are so engrossed in having fun that they forget themselves in the process.

Sevadham regularly organizes picnics for the poor and marginalised sections of the society. Earlier it has earlier taken physically and mentally challenged students from city schools like Jidd and St John the Baptist School for special children as also tribal children from villages around in and around Thane.

In the aforementioned film "King of Hearts", the soldier leads the disoriented patients out of the asylum and into the abandoned village, where they establish a surprisingly balanced community – there is singing and dancing, laughter and love, the strong care for the weak, the haves share with the have-nots. Come to think of it, volunteers of NGOs like Sevadham are like soldiers – they are bringing equilibrium back into those whose lives have been rendered off-balance by fate and by the so-called oriented society. They are truly the kings and queens of hearts.

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