8:20am: I laboriously open my eyes and glare at my phone as the alarm blares as it would on any weekday. Today, being Samvatsari, the last day of the Jain period of fasting, is a holiday, but I have forgotten to undo my alarm the night before and so am forced to deal with it now.
10:40am: I am rudely awoken (again) by my sister running into the room following a suspicious thud to ensure that my few hours of fasting have not led my sudden collapse. Point to be noted, she has been fasting for 8 days, while I have barely been without food for 8 hours.
12:30pm: Every year I am surprised again by my body not yet being used to Pajyushan fasting. As such, it takes all my restraint not to jump out at the unsuspecting and presumably well-intentioned guests who have come to inquire about my sister’s well being, while munching on the assorted dry fruits my mother has considerately left out on the table.
2:30pm: I escape to my room, feigning fatigue, but really unable to watch more people eating.
In my room I can’t help thinking about another day, barely 20 days ago, when me, all my colleagues, and a big group of our friends had carried out a concerted effort to feed 210 people, as part of one of our partner NGO’s (Robin Hood Army) goals to feed 500K people over Independence Day. On that day, the sight of children excitedly grabbing at chocolates, at sullen men breaking out into smiles over warm samosas, and of all us trying to sneak some extra food to the groups we were engaging with, had been maybe the most uplifting and gratifying experience that I’ve had this past year (and working at ConnectFor those aren’t hard to come by, let me tell you). Yet today, I was begrudging peanuts, literally, only because I was going to be hungry? It begs to question then, how much easier is it to be charitable when you have enough to give? Would we find it more difficult to part with things when we had fewer of them? Could we suffer scarcity and still preach the importance of philanthropy? Maybe then it’s a good thing the only thing we can be certain of is our time, and know that by volunteering our time, our return on investment will always be high; because regardless of what we may have or not have, our time will always be ours to choose how we spend or give.
4:30pm: Hunger pangs have successfully chased away all philosophical thoughts from my mind. I continue to count hours until I am back with my ConnectFor team tomorrow, eating some delicious nimbu puri, and doing what we do best: matching volunteers to good causes!
Shloka Mehta is one of the co-founders of the ConnectFor platform, and enjoys volunteering almost as much as she enjoys desserts.
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