SCREENING AT THE LOVING COMMUNITY
On Saturday night, we decided to do a very special screening at the Loving Community. This place has a very interesting history. This small community emerged about 50 years ago as a place where lepers were looked after and supported through their illness. The community grew when lepers from all over the country who had been shunned from their communities and homes, especially in Maharashtra, and the southern states came here and settled down in a space where they were accepted and grew communally. Over the years, Manav Sadhna has come into the community and helped them exponentially by working with the children and grandchildren of the lepers, and helping them with education, sanitation etc. I had heard of this community for a while and was very excited about a night screening in the open since we hadn’t done this before.
When we reached, we were taken to different homes to have dinner, a new system they were practicing where volunteers would be broken up for dinner so that more people from the community were integrated and the rapport increased.
When we came back to begin the screenings, we were waiting outside while the elders finished their dinner in the community room. There were a few kids who surrounded me and asked me to stay the night. I couldn’t fathom how simply they asked someone they didn’t know to stay the night at their place, a stranger potentially but I promised them that I would come back. Such carefree children they were.
When the elder were finished with dinner and slowly started walking out hand in hand, one grandmother saw me sitting, in a corner and when I smiled at her, she greeted me with a massive smile, a namaste and surprisingly tried touching my feet. I was shocked because she was easily 60 years older to me, my grandmother’s age and she thought of touching my feet, something that didn’t occur to me to do the other way round? I had nothing for her, she didn’t know me either but she touched me so deeply it brought tears to my eyes, just knowing I was in a community surrounded by such wonderful giving people, I couldn’t believe it.
We started the screening around 9:30. We screened a couple of short films and showed some classic examples of health and sanitation through bollywood films, which clearly appealed more to them because of the treatment. I am guessing the workshop was not to really ask people from the community to enter in the filmmaking competition but to spread awareness of the power of filmmaking and empowering social change.
But, what touched me the most was that at the end of the screening, when we put the lights on, we saw a sea of people, maybe the whole community was sitting there, from probably the oldest to little children on their mother’s laps.
Sandeep asked very casually whether they gather like this once a week, when they said no, he assumed and said, “oh, toh you’ll gather once a month nah?” then someone answered back with, “we have gathered together like this after 20 years.”
When I heard that I was amazed. He said that the last time they gathered like this was to watch chitrakatha on weekends when there was only one tv in the village, now since every house has a tv, they don’t gather anymore.
This piece of information was enriching and overwhelming at the same time, because it made me realize the magnitude of the screening we had just conducted and how one hour of a short screening brought so much change for these people.