Yesterday we spent some time with the kids at the boarding school. Two of the wonderful persons who have made this incredible adventure possible for were in town and wanted to meet the children. Calls were made and permissions obtained and we reached the school a few minutes after 12pm. It was refreshment time and the kids had gone to get their morning snack. We soon found them and settled under a tree for a little chat.
The kids were happy to see us and were all smiles. They answered all questions and shared a little bit of their world. We were told about Nikhil’s missing shoes laces that seemed to have been stolen by other kids just like his biscuits. Nikhil is your simple benign kid and the ideal target for practical jokes. We quickly understood that this was not in place to feel outraged, come on, things like this happen in all boarding schools! Babli told us about her dance performance during Independence Day celebrations and showed off the pictures of the event. A kid came rushing asking Utpal about the whereabouts of the class duster which seemed to have been in Utpal’s custody and was needed pronto. Utpal darted across the grounds then changed his mind as he decided there was no hurry: the teacher had not yet come back to class.
Though the children displayed impeccable manners we soon felt like intruders. Parents are only meant to come to school on PTM days and not drop by when they wish. We were undoubtedly de trop and we felt that the children were rearing to get back to their routine you see 7th period was games and 8th Art & Craft. But there was one last matter to be settled and Utpal finally asked the question all wanted to hear: what goodies had we brought. On hearing that there were sweets and chocolates, the kids instructed us to hand it over to the housemother as she would then give it to them. They bis us farewell and dashed back to their classroom.
We spent a little time with the Principal and the staff. It was wonderful to hear that all the children were doing well and were extremely well mannered. We were happy and very proud of our little motley crew that had the ability to walk in people’s heart and stay there. What an incredible journey it has been for them and though there was still along way to go, we jnew they were safe and would reach their destination.
As I writes these words, little Meher is on her way home after her second surgery. She now looks like any tiny girl and not the little ET she had been for the past three months with her huge expanders. Meher will now look just like any other 4 year old, barring a a few scars and her odd looking hands. Since her first surgery that took place a few months ago she has been living at the women centre and has walked into many hearts. Needless to say she is a true free spirit imbibed with a rare zest for life.
I still remember the day she walked into my life and my heart. I knew she had come to stay. I must confess that we were all a little taken aback by the attitude of her parents and their total lack of concern for this child. Every morning she was let out of their tiny home and left to her won device. It all seemed as if everyone wanted to wish hear away but did not quite know how. We were appalled at the lack of interest of her parents in her treatment; her mom even left her two months ago to go to the village where her baby brother was born. For the past months she was cared for by the women centre staff and every night one of the teachers spent the night with her. She enthralled every one with her antics. No one escaped her special brand of love.
For her parents she was an impediment, a burden no one wanted to carry. With her scars and her maimed hands she would never be marriage material, and was marriage not the ultimate goal of a girl’s life? But Meher is a live wire, someone you cannot ignore. She will not let you do that. Her joie de vivre is infectious and she has the ability to lift your spirits, no matter how low they are.
She has been given a new lease of life, and knowing her, she will make sure she lives life to its fullest and prove to everyone that she is worth believing in. If all goes well, she will join the little band of pwhy children in boarding school and I have no doubt that she will astound us all. Meher is a child of the God of lesser beings, just like her special pal and soul mate Utpal. They are children who have come a long way and know that life is precious.
May The God of lesser beings always walk with them!
Utpal loves taking pictures. Every time I go to his school he takes my camera and shoots to his heart’s content. He did just that last week during his PTM. He took pictures of his pals, his bed, his favourite teachers and more. Then he handed me back the camera and set out to play. Some time later he came back to me and asked for the camera again declaring that he had to take pictures of the laundry. I must confess I was a little perplexed but did hand him the camera. He set off again and took the shots he wanted.
It is only when I downloaded the pictures that I realised he had taken pictures of the washermen as they worked. I was deeply touched as such people often remain invisible as we simply take them for granted. And yet here was this incredible child who ensured that they too become visible and recognised. A lesson for all. But then Utpal knows how to see with his little big heart!
Sunday was PTM day for our little foster care kids. This was the first PTM since school opened. For the past week there had been a flurry of activity to prepare for D day. All the parents had to be informed and plans made. It was decided that the parents of all our four kids: Babli, Vicky, Nikhil and Aditya would pool resources and hire a car. Every one was excited.
On Sunday morning they all set out bright and early for what was to be a very special day. After meeting the kids it was time to meet the teachers. Everyone was thrilled to see the results and even more so as Babli and Vicky had stood second in their respective classes. Report cards were collected and then the children showed the school to their proud parents: the dorm, the dining hall and the play grounds. The excitement was palpable and the pride in the children’s and parents eyes was for all to see.
A set of incredible circumstances enabled these four children and their little pal Utpal to break the circle of poverty and a life in the slums and accede to a good education, the kind you would give your child. This is nothing short of a miracle. Had they been left where they supposedly belonged, most of them would not have completed their school, and even run the risk of becoming child labour. It almost happened with Babli! And that time no one would have believe that the same little girl would one day be in a boarding school happily building her morrows. And yet that is exactly what she is doing today with her little pals.
After the grand tour it was time for a little outing to a nearby park. There was a surprise in store for the children: the moms had packed loads of home made food for their children and everyone had an impromptu picnic. Then the happy party returned to school to share lunch with the children in the dining hall. A grad moment for all. Soon it was time to leave an say bye till the next time.
You can share some glimpses of this very special day
It was very hard to walk into the pwhy building yesterday. For the past 6 years I had been greeted almost every morning by Nanhe’s huge smile, and if for some reason I was lost in my thoughts and failed to look in his direction, Nanhe, the child who could not speak, always managed to get my attention and treat me to his huge smile and I knew that no matter what, all would be well.
Yesterday there was no smile to greet me. The building seemed strangely empty and hollow. I knew things would never be quite the same. One may wonder what a little broken soul like Nanhe could mean to someone like me, how a little seemingly useless being could become such an important part of one’s life. It is once again a matter of looking with one’s heart. Nanhe was undoubtedly an Angel that the God of Lesser Souls sent our way. His message was simple and clear: no matter what life is still beautiful and no matter how bad it looks, it is still worth a smile. And the little chap lived by the book: even in his worst moments of pain, he never lost his smile. And when you looked at him smiling you suddenly felt uplifted. No matter where and when, in a hospital ward where he lay or in his tiny hovel Nanhe smiled.
Tomorrow maybe Nanhe will be forgotten. His is not a life you commemorate. The pain we feel today will undoubtedly lessen and even vanish, life does have to go on. He more than anyone else would have wanted it to. But for me it is important to ensure that it is not a life lived in vain. I did hear his message loud and clear and it is a simple one: never give up, no matter how dark the night looks dawn is only a few moments away. And I promise you little Nanhe, I will not give up. You have left many smiles in my custody and I promise you they will be safe.
Let this blog be his epitaph. I urge you to look at the pictures below. You too will be touched by the magic of a little angel’s incredible smile.
That Nanhe was important is borne by the number of blogs written for him. read them if you have the time.
when today is over
to die for
for the little ones
how many times must nanhe
a smile in custody
pwhy and beyond
back with a bang
praying for a smile
because of your smile
the spunk of a smile
when nanhe’s eyes are smiling
a smile lost
a smile referred to
a promotion for nanhe
wish I had a dreamcatcher
whose life is it anyway
an unequal battle
is it walking towards him
miracles happen everyday
return of the buddy
a samosa and a jig
nanhe is back
mazza a gaya