| Korak Restarts His Home for Unloved and Abandoned
I have a school called Aamar Nijer Training School (ANTS) for the children and women who by the virtue of luck, lack of money, sense of the society or concealed political chess game- cannot get a proper education. In our lust for power-money-fame, we thus create and farm these Third World societies for… well satisfying our lust for power-money-fame!
I am not writing these words out of fantasy or fallacy. I put up with it everyday and it comes in my way to stop all that is done through me, as I am always swimming upstream against these currents. Let's come back to Koyel — a product of the power-money-fame lust of her own people and the sterile world she took birth in.
I have with difficulties managed to have three schools by now and this happened in one. Generally I am not at this particular school at the hour of the day when this incident happened. I was down there only because of my flowing upstream kicks that day when I went to our School #1. The teachers were teaching in our make shift school in a rented warehouse in Torture Lane. Its called Torture Lane because it is part of the Butcher’s Colony. I was doing some unattractive paper work.
I saw a little girl of 4-5 years peeping from the curtains of the falling-apart doors there. Her hairs were rare, mostly bald because of some skin disease. She was a round-faced dark-complexioned child with typical Indian big-black eyes wearing some rags, like a girly-frock. Something made me call her in as I do that with all children who curiously peep inside (I generally do not go to fetch children for joining our schools now a days as more children means more infrastructure etc. which I cannot afford now).
We have an elderly woman in our school who was thrown out of her own house by her sons. She had worked and toiled the whole life for them after she became a widow at a young age. A couple of years back she came to me and told me that she didn’t eat for many days and that she was very sick. I do not like to give money like that out of pity or sympathy, so I offered her a job taking care of little children and taking them to the rest room and taking care of them when they are crying. This same elderly woman brought this little girl who was peeping, to me and told me that I will have to do something for her. Then she told me her story.
Koyel, who had a different name before, was born to be rich but everything changed upside down. Her grandfather was known to be a very rich-famous-powerful man. But during religious festivals he used to do a lot of charity too and so poor people liked him. He had a few sons including Koyel’s father. After the grandfather’s death the brothers had nothing to do besides destroying all the hard earned money earned by their father. When the money finished then the self-destructions started.
Koyel’s mother who was known to be simple woman, was beaten and tortured by her in-laws. Slowly her brain started to be effected. Then Koyel’s father was killed (people say his brothers murdered him). After that it was just Hell for Koyel’s siblings and mother. They were thrown out from whatever was left of their home. Koyel’s mother became mentally ill and people started to call her a pagli (means- mental woman), living on streets. Koyel was on the streets as a baby. Her mother in her state of brain would take her little babies and throw them into the deadly pond nearby where people never go to swim because of the wells inside the pond.
Koyel was growing up on the streets of the Butcher’s Colony on the pity and sympathy of the people there who in lieu of shooing her away would give her money in place of shelter. She would sleep with the mangy dogs in the lanes and the streets there. Other children of my school have seen her cuddling the dogs and their puppies. She was eating and living like them. Then as she started growing up and having money with her, she started buying this readily available tobacco and other easily accessible things made for grown-up’s passions.
With time she learnt many other bad words and habits. Our elderly woman also told me that if I do not do anything now then very soon the men and boys there will also start taking advantage of a freely available girl.
She was insisting that I do something for her as only putting her in my school will not do anything much for her. She wanted me to adopt her but in those days I had not much of a place even for me to stay. How could I take the responsibility of another person especially a child and more so a girl child, being alone myself. Our societies of this world have been made bitter by many strange things that it has witnessed to loose its FAITH in people.
I didn’t want to give them another chance to doubt. But so many children of my school who knew Koyel and also that elderly woman started telling me to do something. I was in a situation of no return.
I decided to adopt her and leave the rest to god. So I tried to find an elderly woman to take care of her in the studio I was renting then, for my living. Then I brought a stove and some cooking things and some rice and vegetables etc to start a home with a child (some people are lucky to have children without even having a wife). I asked this elderly woman who brought Koyel to me to get signatures of Koyel’s near relatives and the people who lived around the streets Koyel used to live on.
I drafted a letter and got 6 of them to sign or give finger impressions if they were uneducated, giving me rights to take care of Koyel as her only close relative, her mother, was mentally ill and would move around in the streets without a destination, like one can see so easily on the streets of Kolkata.
I got her cleaned, brought some clothes, shoes etc and took her home only to be thrown out by the land lord the next day as they will not allow anyone else to stay in the studio besides me. My requesting and trying to explain to them the situation fell on deaf ears. What to do then?
I could not send her back where she came from. I just had a few hours before the day would end. So I gave money to one of our 60 women and girls who have been given jobs and reasons to live through me, in my Self-Dependent Village project, to keep her at her home and take care of her. That was the last option I had and I took it promising myself that I will try to act soon. Now since I have taken the responsibility of a child, then I must give her the best possible circumstances so that she grows up into a worthy human being.
Anyway, now I have rented a place and I have turned that into a hostel and office called Aamar Nijer Bari (ANB) -My Own Home. It would have surely been difficult for Koyel to stay alone with me even in this new place. In my school where there are nearly 500 children, I have seen that children after a certain age fall out of studying. They have to go to earn, as there are more mouths to feed than the feeding money. Then there is also something very strange about the society there, that a child after an age of 11-12 just becomes strange to education and the basic goodness of a person, abundantly available in a child. So I made a Hostel/Ashram/Home kind of thing to keep that goodness and quest for education intact. Koyel in that way also has company too. Now there are 5 children including Koyel. I want to do things properly so I want to apply for guardianship followed by adoption of her legally.
I want to make part of this Hostel/Ashram/Home alias Aamar Nijer
Bari, for all those children who do not have anyone and also for those
who have, as their parents want them to be a Worthy Human Being of our
collective home, Earth.
© Shanti Lion Children's Trust: 2006, 2007
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