Once upon a time, there was a little boy, living in Belgium. The kid was like any other child, his age. He liked to play, he liked to laugh and there were moments where you would have liked him to be less noisy and less energetic, but then again, it was a boy, ready to discover the world.
Yet, at times, already as a boy, there was proof that he’d grow up as something exceptional. He could demonstrate poise and gravitas whilst explaining seemingly abstract concepts to his little friends in the garden. ‘No, this is not right, we should be able to play with whomever we like, and little Yannick is one of ours. If his wheelchair prevents him from playing football, we should choose another game, it’s as simple as that!’. And his little friends listened. Yannick beamed, everybody was happy.
He wasn’t the leader of the pack, he was the soft influencer. Gandhi in his own way, as the wonderful result of a mixed European/Indian upbringing. It was both shocking and enjoyable to hear him think about abstract concepts in a very straightforward childishly logical manner. And the confident way in which he envisaged his own future only showed strength and a belief in his own capabilities. He would become a scientist, and solve all the major problems of the world. Endearing, refreshing and at the same time resolute.
Every once in a while, you meet a child displaying a maturity combined with an enthusiastic and naïve openness, and it’s heartwarming and confusing at the same time. ‘Money, is the solution to a lot of things, not in the least the will to change things’, he said at one point. ‘Therefore, i’m gonna save every last coin i can find and earn, and i will give it all to grandpa. And then i will save even more, and do good for the whole country’.
Strangely enough, to him the whole country wasn’t Belgium, it was India. The country where his grandfather had an orphanage for the weakest of all, abandoned children with a mental handicap. The kid was very impressed when he visited the orphanage in Hydrabat and was inseparable from his grandfather, incessantly asking questions, trying to help and offering solutions. Rather than avoiding the misery and the depressing state of being of most of the kids, he was drawn towards it and wanted to go back as much as possible, merely to help.
His grandfather was a Hindu with an extremely bright mind, who saw the necessities of his region as his first priority. The orphanage was managed by catholic sisters, and in no way would this interfere with his personal religious beliefs. Relief and help were more important than personal trivia, however important those may be. The kid took after his granddad, he cared, he was intelligent, he understood things and sensitivities.
With time, his exceptional intelligence became more and more apparent, a bright scholar , he excelled in all things expected of him. But the soft, gentle openness towards other people never disappeared. The kindness in his eyes remained.
Even now, when he was holding his inaugural speech as the new prime minister of India, he was respected and loved by all, conveying values and truth in his words, his deeds and his beliefs.
His grandfather was sitting on the first row and could not withhold a tear…
(naschrift: op persoonlijk verzoek geschreven in het engels, voor een klein jongetje met grote dromen, maar alle verbeteringen aan het engels zijn meer dan welgekomen, het is niet mijn moedertaal!)