The Town Hall auditorium erupted in a thunderous applaud when the Mayor opened the envelope and announced “The award for the NGO of the year goes to ‘Box of Crayon’. Request Ms Manjiri, the founder-director of Box of Crayons to come to the stage and collect the trophy”, continued the Mayor. Manjiri could not believe her ears.
The auditorium was packed with big-wigs from the city, representatives of the renowned NGOs and organisations as part of their CSR outreach. And the media persons as well.
As she walked towards the podium in disbelief, the Mayor announced, “I now call upon Master Chinu to present the award to Ms Manjiri”. This turned out to be another pleasant surprise for her. Covering her mouth with her hand, not able to contain her pleasure and surprise, Manjiri climbed up the steps. Well-dressed Chinu stood with a golden trophy.
Once on stage, with a trophy in hand, Majiri couldn’t hold back her tears. When the Mayor offered her mike, Chinu stepped forward and said, “May I?” The Mayor happily agreed and so did the audience with their cheers.
“Manju Di did not know that Box of Crayon was nominated. It was me, who upon learning about such an event, had registered it. I had learnt about it from a piece of newspaper in which I had got my Bhajiya wrapped. Manju Di you deserve much more than this trophy for sake of many Chinus like me”, he concluded.
By this time Manjiri was chock a block with emotions. She clearly remembered, about two years back, a busy crossroad signal where Chinu, a young boy of 8, was going from one car to another selling the coloring books. At one such car, he stood a little longer, lost in checking the view inside. Manjiri who was waiting next to the car, on her Scooty, grew curious. A little girl was sitting at the back and was colouring a picture. Chinu tapped on the glass and gestured to the girl to give him the crayon. The little girl hesitated but, in a moment, handed it to Chinu.
Chinu was excited. “I got a crayon”, he shouted and sprinted towards the foot-path where he was accompanied by few more children of his age. In a flash of a second, they got into a nasty fight. It made a ruckus and all waiting at the signal had their eyes on the fight. The fight was over in no time. Chinu was left alone. There he stood with a torn shirt and a piece of crayon which was broken during the fight. He cried aloud.
Wiping tears with the sleeves, he took the crayon and tried colouring one of the pictures in the colouring book. He couldn’t. This time his wail pierced Manjiri’s heart who was on her way to college.
All her way to college, the face of teary-eyed Chinu lingered in her mind. She crossed her heart and decided to do something about it. ‘Box of Crayons’ was thus born. She started spending after-college-hours with the street children, giving them lessons in reading and writing right on the footpath. She poured all her pocket money in meeting the expenses. She persuaded many of her friends to donate or to join her. In two years’, time, Box of Crayons had about 20 odd children.
“Much needs to be done”, she would always tell the children and herself. Her purpose for attending the event was to meet the influential people to help her get the funds to bring the street boys and girls in the mainstream of education.
“Much needs to be done. And till that time, I have hope for better tomorrow”, said she after getting an upper hand over her emotions and hugged Chinu which was greeted with a standing ovation by the audience!