one more tale of two Indias

A short news item aired yesterday showed relatives of children killed in Noida by serial killers blocking a road and protesting the slow pace of the probe.

My mind travels back to the week where the whole nation watched the nightmare of NOIDA unfold. Rewind to a few weeks earlier and one’s thoughts go to the plight of the 50 odd Ghaziabad orphanage girls waiting to be released while their abuser smirked on.

Somehow the girls seem lost in some incomprehensible labyrinth of justice and bureaucracy that mere mortals cannot reach. The mind races back to the time when one could visit them in spite of the harrowing presence of their abuser, and bring them a few moments of solace.

Now one just sits helpless and lost.

Recently we experienced the deafening furore of Ms Shetty and her tryst with the celebrity big brother. The racist remarks ultimately paid. Few months ago Jessica and Priyardhasini got the much awaited justice when voices took on their case. But those voices belonged to well educated, English speaking upmarket people and hence they were heard. They belonged to the right India, as did those that ensured that little Anant return home safely!

The Ghaziabad girls and the Nithari children do not have that luck. The voices heard yesterday were not the right ones.

Let us not forget that the true perpetrator of the crimes against the Nithari children was not the predator but the police and the administration. Today again it seems that the same game is being played.

In a few days or weeks, the tired parents will have to go back to the task of surviving and even these feeble voices will die out.

I had feared this would happen and hoped that we would see the writing on the wall and do something. My fear has been confirmed, my hope shattered.

Many heralded 2006 as the year of the rise of civil society, maybe one should add a rider: it only words in one India, the other remains unchanged.

The return of the buddy!

The return of the buddy!

Nanhe is back. And the smile too!

Everyone was stunned as he entered the class in Sitaram’s arms. Moments later a palpable excitement prevailed in the classroom as his little buddies set about to greet their long lost pal.

All else was forgotten: Anurag stopped jumping, Umesh stopped whining and even Shalu stopped complaining. Little Sapna came alive, Himashu smiled and Manu forgot his swollen gums and quietly handed over his puzzle.

No words were needed for his pals to understand that Nanhe had come back from very far and that this was a very special moment. Had not Nanhe defeated all logic and all medical prognostics, was he not the one who had chronic renal failure and severe anemia.

We watched him in awe as we could sense the strength of his spirit soaring high and my thoughts went to Daisaku Ikeda’s words: Human life is indeed wondrous. You may be ill physically, but as long as your mental state is strong, it most certainly will exert a positive influence on your body. there may be no better remedy than hope.

What will you be tomorrow…

What will you be tomorrow…

When Utpal walked into the gate of his brand new school he was making a tryst with destiny.

He would one day walk out of that gate and take on the world.

I have often let my imagination run wild and imagine what he would become: a conventional doctor or a hot shot choreographer.. any one’s guess I suppose.

yesterday we spent the day with him in his school and as we lazed around in the balmy winter day, he took my camera and started shooting pictures. He went done on a knee, took time and shot a series of pictures. He shot his buddies, his pals in the kitchen, some of us and even took some shots of flowers and trees. You can see them here.

Quite frankly they are not bad.. and some could even make it to a competition.

I watched this little chap and once again marveled at the incredible journey this little chap has made in the last 4 years: from a searing frying pan to a boarding school. At moments like these you can only say Chapeau Bas – hats off – to mr godJi and his incredible talent!

Miracles happen everyday…

Miracles happen everyday…

Last week nanhe was discharged from hospital. The discharge slip read: hemoglogin:3.2, BP not detecteable, chronic renal failure. A dismal prognostic to say the least.

When consulted all medico friends confirmed our fears.

Nanhe is special and his smile has made us weather many a storm. Not knowing what to do as no conventional options were possible, I shared my angst with many friends. Many messages of love and support poured in, and many sent healing in various forms.

The days went by and defying all norms, Nanhe held on and two days back he delighted us with a huge smile. For that one moment time stopped. That smile was nothing short of a miracle.

I recalled Deepak Chopra’s words: Miracles happen every day. Not just in remote country villages or at holy sites halfway across the globe, but here, in our own lives, and wondered as to what message that smile held.

Time has stopped for that moment indeed, but reality hit us soon after. Nothing had changed actually: nanhe was still that very special child who could never stand on his own, his mother was still that poor widow with three more challenged children and his tomorrows look as bleak as ever.

Yet his holding on despite all odds could not be without purpose.

I remember nanhe’s last day in class, when he played mentor to young Himanshu. I also recall the innumerable times when his smile has wiped away many a doubt and lifted my sagging courage. I recollect the number of people around the globe who have warmed up to this special child and who have prayed for him over and over again.

How can one forget the often illogical yet passionate strength of a mother’s love. Nanhe’s mom has been a perfect example of that, not giving up one bit but doggedly carrying on, carting her child to the hospital, pleading with doctors and getting for her child more than one could hope for.

Nanhe lives and even smiles. I guess somewhere we are blessed to be able to still have this child with us.

These are moments where logic and reason fail, and only wonder remains.

a slap in lieu of a result

a slap in lieu of a result

Final exams are just little over a month away and all pwhy kids are busy revising. Government schools held their usual end of term exams in December and we all waited for the results to help us structure our revision programme.

When no result was forthcoming by mid January, we asked the children to find out from their class teachers when these would be available. The next day, little Jyoti from our Govindpuri section came back telling us that she had been slapped by her teacher for having dared ask! We were ready to go and meet the teacher in question but were stopped by the children. Their scared eyes spoke volumes. They knew that our visit would result in more unwarranted abuse.

In another school, children were told that the papers had not been checked as schools had been closed for a few days because of the severe cold. In yet another school, answer sheet lay strewn on the floor at the mercy of rodents.

All in all, we could only gather half of the results.

This is but another example of the state of municipal and government schools. It is a cause of worry as marks of each terminal exam are included in the finals. We were also told that if a child has 75% attendance he automatically passes into the nest class. No wonder than that there are kids in class V who are unable to read or write. They will swell the ranks of drop outs as they reach class VI!

Almost everyday one can find some news item or the other about the abysmal state of government schools in the capital: no toilets, no drinking water, no classrooms, no teachers…One of the reasons for this deplorable situation is undoubtedly the lack of a literate and empowered parents’ group. With the proliferation of shady small teaching shops a.k.a. public schools, only the poorest of the poor land in municipal schools. They simply sit on the benches – or floor – marking time till they exit the school in class V. many will never make it further.

There is something extremely lopsided or insidious about the various policies for the poor. One startling example is the reservation policy in higher education. With the present state of primary education no deserving candidate can ever make it to the portals of an engineering college or medical school. It is only when we clean up the state of primary education that a tangible change can begin to happen.