|It is said that da Vinci engineered a mysterious smile on Mona Lisa’s face worth several millions of dollars. How much is a smile worth on an underprivileged rural girl’s face?
My wife and I run a girl’s intermediate college in a small village in eastern Uttar Pradesh. The college is specifically for underprivileged rural girls who would otherwise be left uneducated in our country. The objective of the school is to not only produce academically competent graduates but also young women who are socially and intellectually mature to face the life in the future. The education is offered entirely free of cost.
With that brief introduction let me come to the theme of this article.
Yesterday (March 20, 2011) was the celebration day for the great Indian festival of Holi. On March 19, after the first half of the day, the girls were ready to play Holi with each other in the school compound. So we made the arrangements. As they started playing Holi, my wife and I came out with cameras to take their pictures and videos. Watching them play Holi with their innocent smiles and giggles overtook us. We put our cameras down and stood there for a while to see how they would react. For a while they would look at us but hesitate coming close to douse us with the dry color.
Then, one of them approached and put the color on my wife’s face. No sooner than her applying the dry color back on the student’s face, she was swarmed over by all the girls like being in the middle of a locust attack. Within seconds she was doused with dry colors from top to bottom. Then they dragged me in. I couldn’t keep my eyes open since the colored powder was all over my face and head. I could only feel their small hands over my face and hear their giggles. It was one of the most transcendental experiences I have ever had in my life. My eyes were tearful and the heart was bursting with joy.
These girls represent our future. They will be the hub of the value systems of the future households. They can rescue this Nation from its deep ethical dive if we spare them from our corrupt environment during these formative years. They have so little in terms of material possessions. Yet they are rich with life and full of promise.
How much the experience they gave us is worth?
How much the smile on their faces is worth?
Ask the two people who experienced it directly. It is worth more than Mona Lisa. It is priceless!!