Thursday, December 1, 2011

Long overdue

This post is long overdue. Mea Culpa. I have not been very present on this blog and the reasons are many: my not so great health, my worries about the future of not only project why but our exceptional eight towards whom we have a long time commitment, our regular funding that does not meet our needs and thus have to be added to every month requiring time and effort. And perhaps last but not the least the fact that our exceptional eight are so well settled in their school that one almost forgets to write about them! But that is a lame excuse for all those have made it possible for these children to have a bright future and who we depend on and are beholden to. I assure each and every one that I will not be found lagging again.

The new academic year started well for all our children as they had all surpassed themselves and made it to the next class with honours. Even Nikhil who was lagging a little made a tremendous effort and was back on course. After a month or so they broke for their summer holidays and with summer holidays came holiday home work. As their parents were not in a position to handle the task a teacher was appointed to help them and Nikhil, Aditya, Yash, Vicky and Babli came to the pwhy centre every day till all work and models were completed. Meher went to the village for some time and her home work was completed with the help of the women centre staff.

Utpal who was going through a terrible phase as his mother has vanished and whose guardianship has been given to me had to do with the rusty knowledge of his good old Maam'ji! We also needed the intervention of a child psychiatrist and medication to deal with his problem. Thank God things have fallen in place though he still has therapy sessions.

Holidays were soon over and it was back to school for the children in early July. Every one was thrilled to be back and find their friends. We met them again in August and September and found them happy and safe. The reports of their teachers were glowing and there was no complaint. In October the children came home for Diwali. It was aslo time to gear them for winters. So there was shopping for shoes and toiletries and the old duvets were aired and packed. They are now back in school and will be home again on 31/12 for their winter break.

the latest snapshots


the gang

the gang again

yash and nikhil



aditya and manisha

meher and manisha

Boy they have grown

Our gang of eight are back to school after their Diwali break. They dropped by on the way to fetch Utpal and say hello! Boy they have grown. It is truly amazing. They looked happy and eager to go back to school with their quilts, their warm clothes and many stories to share. Yash even had a burn on his leg courtesy Diwali crackers and proudly showed it to me as if it was a battle scar. I refrained from any comment to avoid being a wet blanket.

Manisha was all smiles though she waylaid them for the snap. She was happy to go back to school and meet her friends. Meher was her ebullient self and had her own tales to tell. Nikhil has lost some weight and seemed more active. That is good as I was a little worried about him. Babli was serious as usual, much the big sister responsible for the brood. Aditya and Vicky were poker faced a far cry from their habitual naughty selves, guess it was to impress Ma'am.

Utpal of course was a busy body, making sure all packets and bags were loaded in the waiting car, very much the man of the house. And why not, the only home he has now is mine and he is entitled to after all he has been through. He has truly earned his right to reclaim all he has been denied for long.

There they were with their dreams and hopes. I watched them pensively. Maybe I was the only one to realise how fragile and tenuous their dreams were. They all depended on my ability to secure them. The thought frightened me. It was such a huge responsibility. When the journey began with Utpal it was just a case of force majeure. We had no other option. Then came a man with his set of dreams and four more kids joined Utpal. The man walked away without a word and I was left holding the baby. They became five. Three more were added again because there was no other honourable way. What future did Meher have with her scars and Yash who had been abandoned by all. And when a kind man came offering a future to little Manisha could we refuse. Had we done so instead of being top of her class she would have joined her mom picking rags on the street. So we became eight.

True there are kind people who ensure the fee money. But over the years the fees have increased with the cost of living and fees alone do not meet the needs of a growing child. Those who have kids will understand me. There are shoes to be brought as feet grow at the speed of light and clothes winter ones and summer ones, toiletries, uniforms, books, school bags and more. They have to be fetched and dropped at each school break necessitating two vehicles now. All this adds up, yet all this is needed. And to the cynics before they materialise I would like to say that yes they deserve the best even if they happened to be born on the wrong side of the fence. When you assume a responsibility you go all the way. Selective benevolence does not exist.

It is with our eyes wide open that we decided to educate these children and nothing can or should come in the way of our commitment. So help us God!

another day in paradise

Got up this morning to some shattering news. A donor we had counted on to carry on our work has rescinded on his promise. This meant we were in deep trouble. In normal circumstances I would have been completely devastated were it not for the fact that I was on a high: you see yesterday wasPTM day and I had been injected with my dose of my preferred stimulant:the smiles and hugs of my eight little Angels. That also meant that their dreams and morrows took centre stage and thus the option of dejection and depression was a no no!

Sunday was a perfect day, a lovely blue sky, a warm sun and the feel of winter in the air. We reached the school early and as it was also result day we headed towards the classes of our proteges. But as we reached the first floor we were greeted by a smart class XI student who requested us to first visit their science project.Needless to say we did and spent time looking at the models and listening to the young voices as they talked about their creations. The models were innovative and interesting and it was a special moment. Then it was time to make our way to each class for the anticipated result. I was a little anxious as any parent would be. Took me back many years when I use to do the same for my girl. But all anxiety was in vain as I got glowing reports in each and every class. Our kids had once again excelled. What a proud moment it was. I signed all the report cards with delight.

Our serious task completed it was time to have fun. We sat in the grounds and all the children came and shared their stories. There were many, each one special and blessed. It was really rewarding to see these very special children happy and brimming with self confidence. A far cry from the day they first entered the school. Even little Manisha had her tales to recount. Then an excited voice told me that the tuck shop was open. All eight kids charged to the shop and had their fill of frooties, chocolates and biscuits. Agastyamy grandson who never misses a PTM when he is in town as UtpalBhaiya is his special pal was having a great time running all over the place and playing with the kids and of course eating all the goodies usually not on his menu! We basked in the balmy mood as long as we could but the clock was ticking too fast and it was time to leave. So goodbyes were said and Agatya gave Utpal a special hug. Did they both know they would not be meeting for some time?

The ride back home was quiet as usual as one was lost in thoughts. The question up most on my mind was undoubtedly: Will I be able to fulfill the fragile dreams of these wonderful kids?