For Ria, it was the best birthday ever.
Papa got her a pink dress which was just like what Cinderella wore in that cartoon. There was a party at the local orphanage where all the kids admired her dress and she felt so special. Mumma and Papa also got her a princess cake that she cut as everyone looked on. So many presents were brought by her parents. Then all the orphan kids were given gifts and food by her parents and they seemed so happy. Ria felt really nice that they could do this special thing for these kids who had no one to call their own.
For Anu from the orphanage, it was another one of those parties. She saw the girl whose birthday it was, dressed in a very pretty pink dress, and she wished that she had something like that to wear one day. She looked down at her loose, old T-shirt, a size too big for her, and wondered if she will ever get to wear something like that in her life. She saw the girls' parents showering her with love and attention, and wondered who her parents were, and where they were, if alive at all. But she looked at how happy this girl Ria looked and chucked the thought out of her head.
At night, as she tucked away the pencil box and stuffed toy she got as a return gift, she thought about Ria being put to sleep by her mum. Anu felt sad about having no one to put her to sleep. She wished she could be Ria. But what was the point of being sad, she thought, it won't change the fact that she was a kid who had no one to call her own.
In recent times, a lot of people have started to hold their celebrations in orphanages, slum areas, and the likes. While the idea is to be charitable and bring some joy to the needy, one wonders whether this is one of those fads that people take up because it is the "in thing".
Because I wonder if people really think about how holding such celebrations with people and kids who have been dealt the shorter end of the stick affects the psyche of these people.
Here you are celebrating something with pomp and excitement with people who can't relate to that emotion; you celebrate your kid's birthday amongst kids who are deprived of parents, kids who probably don't even know when their birthday falls.
Then there is the whole ritual of making those sing "Happy Birthday" when they don't want to, smile for pictures when they would rather not, and pose when they would do anything but. All for a slice of cake, a token gift, and a quasi-celebration for them.
Think about it: these are kids who have been abandoned or left by their families.
Although, the act of charity is quite commendable, maybe instead of celebrating your birthday with them, wouldn't it bring more happiness to these kids if you celebrate their birthday with them?
Food for thought.
This story was inspired by this Quora thread.
All images for representational purpose.