November 2009  

Young Mangesh was approved into the programme last week and he came with his mother, a daily wage earner, yesterday, to collect his first supply. Very normal, routine process of course as it is with any new case that undergoes the process of applying, getting verified, undergoing the evaluation process and being awarded a decision. Bright eyed and with a warm, happy smile reflected in those eyes, he had attracted attention on the first visit itself.

As I entered the building that morning , unusually early myself, I was in time to see mother and son being turned away by the Secom Business Centre’s watchman asking them to come back at 11am when visiting time began at the MI Office.

Sensing their disappointment I shepherded Mangesh and his mother into the office and thanked the watchman for his concern at the same time , It was barely past half past nine but I asked Ashok to take his papers out and requested Gita if she would attend to the case. Recognising the young lad Gita was only too happy to talk to them, guide them through the process before beginning her day’s work with e mails and so on.

I was happy that having come so early they could at least be taken care of. If I had not encountered them as I walked in I suppose they would have just gone and come in later.

But that was just not it. A sequence of events occurred, each linked to another that resulted in giving Mangesh great happiness eliciting thrilled gratitude towards ourselves.

Catching sight of a photograph of super star Salman Khan ( I think it is the one up on the board of him and Pablo) Mangesh wistfully said to Gita he adored the star and being in Bombay nursed secret , impossible dreams of maybe seeing him some time . Coming from the interior district of Yavatmal, being in this big city itself was a source of wonder to him. Hearing him say Salman I just decided to take a chance and see if I could get the star on the phone and at least maybe give him a chance to get a part of his dream come through!!

Salman never takes morning calls as he is in his gym till almost lunch ( in all the years I have known him, I think only once have I ever managed to get him on the line before noon) but I nevertheless tried my luck seeing things were anyway all happening for Mangesh today!!

Unfortunately he did not pick up the phone and I had to console the young lad whose bright eyes had dimmed in disappointment, promising him I would try the next time he was here. Nodding his sweet acceptance of what was not to be Mangesh left the office to go and collect his supply and Gita and I exchanged helpless glances too.

Not a minute after the duo left the office my cell phone rang and it was Salman returning my call!! I could not believe it when I saw his name flash on my little screen and I was like Oh my God someone call them back . I rushed out, all the while talking to Salman and telling him why I had called him and would he please stay on line. Salman, the sweet guy he is was cool and began talking to me about his Foundation “Being Human “(of which I am on of the Trustees so we keep touching base)

Outside , as I walked towards the street there was no sign of Mangesh and his mother and reluctantly I had to let Salman go telling him I would call back if we managed to get the patient back. Saying he was off to the studio for a day long shoot he was happy to have me call him back.

The watchman returned too, saying they were not to be seen anywhere and I went back feeling a bit sad that Mangesh had lost this wonderful chance when all of a sudden something jogged my memory and I remembered the mother’s cell phone ringing while I had brought them in the morning. Seeing that we had a number for her in the data base Gita quickly called and was actually able to ask them to come back immediately.

Getting Salman back on line was no issue for it seemed he was waiting for the call and picked it up on one ring saying ” ok Viji ji , put my new friend on the line” and believe me , listening to the conversation that followed and looking at the expressions that flitted across Mangesh’s ecstatic face it did seem like a new friendship was born that day.

Merits of Salman’s latest films were communicated, his choice of co stars appreciated and the latest songs from his new, hit films admired.

Some very eager nodding and rolling of eyes obviously meant Mangesh was listening to exciting confidences and we later found out Salman had told him all about the latest film he was shooting for.

Mangesh’s cup of joy overflowed that morning and we will never forget the wide, happy smile in his face as he spoke with his idol super star Salman, all from the corner of our little office.