Ten years back, I had this bundle in my arms which kept everyone on their toes and me at my wit’s end for most part! Yet watching him sleep, his tiny fingers firmly wrapped around my finger was probably the most divine and peaceful experience. It is such a natural instinct, no? Becoming a mum and falling head over heals in love with that mousey little thing! To have your world completely tossed around by one tiny sneeze and get your tear glands working in overdrive at the first scratch from those tiny nails on the cottony face.
Parenthood is instinctive, or is it? On the numerous visit to the Adoption Center mom works with, I have constantly been plagued by questions I don’t seem to find an answer to. Those doors open up into an entirely different world far removed from the cozy protective one that we weave around our kids. Those doors lead to hallways where for most part of the day, shrill playful squeals echo. These hallways lead to rooms with rows and rows of cots and small beds. Tiny hands are visible from the doorway. A closer look and there they are, rows and rows of cots with little girls, flaying their arms around as if looking for the warmth of the arms that had flung them away….thrown them, left them, rejected them for being what they are- a girl.
I don’t see any halo around parents when I see helpless infants mercilessly thrown in a trash can or in road side bushes, from a moving car. One visit to these homes for abandoned children can chill you right to your spine. Tears refuse to come out because the grief hanging in their eyes is larger than the meaningless drops that you would end up shedding for a few moments. These are not essentially illegitimate children because had that been the case the gender ratio wouldn’t be so skewed. The rooms are full of girls with new ones getting added by the day. They had been punished for being a girl. Some left in bushes with half face bitten into by some stray dog, others with permanent damage to the brain because of the impact of falling from the arms that mercilessly tossed her away. Some although saved from any long term physical damage, have a permanent scar in their heart- a scar of rejection, apathy and uncertainty.
It is said that there is some good in each heart. What possible good drove these people to toss aside these infants like a waste piece of meat at the butcher shop? This is not human. I remember my kids being infants. I don’t remember leaving them alone even for a second, always sleeping very light and waking up instantly by even the tiniest of change in the faint snores. In fact, I don’t remember meeting any mom less paranoid, less tired and less of an insomniac. We stay forever awake, forever vigilant to the real or imagined needs of the little ones. All of us have been there; all of us have spent sleepless nights with our babies in our arms. Then how does a mother, or a father, find the darkness in them to leave these frail, few hour old babies on the roadside, be it chilly winters, unpredictable rains or the relentless summer?
Here at the Home, these children grow to wait…wait for their turn to come, their turn for love, for care, and for a forever home. They might play and prance around but one question is always on their minds and sometimes even slips through those tiny lips, ‘when will my mumma come?’ Sometimes, they even get angry when a parent comes to pick some other child, ‘when will my turn come?’ Tantrums to tears – nothing changes their course of life. Some are lucky enough to find new homes, new families and the missing love. Some just wait and wait forever….
As I am shaken out of my thoughts by an eight year old complaining about how unfair his life is since bhai got a new toy and he didn’t, for a brief moment I look at that pained face. The pain I see is the same but the dimension is drastically different. On one hand is the pain of a miserly toy that the little one lost out on, and on the other hand is the pain of the caring love that the little ones lose out on each day.
Somewhere inside, I want to tell him what unfair truly means….it means not having a mum to complain to about trivial toys, not throwing tantrums about the ‘bad food’. Unfair is waiting for those doors to open, and hoping to find a mum there to envelope the little bundles in a warm hug, but instead being greeted by hopelessness at the other side of the door each day. Their day will hopefully come but till then they deal with the unfair empty life each day with a smile. They don’t complain about the ‘pumpkin veggie’ or the broken toy. They just wait for their turn in life….for their chance at life.
But I let it pass….how can an eight year old understand what even a grown up set of parents cannot fathom? Yet this eight year old too had been moved to tears when he had seen the little ones.
‘You wouldn’t ever leave me na, ma?’
‘No, love. Never.’ I wrapped him in my arms.
‘Then what kind of parents were they?’
He dissolved into sobs and I was left with the same question– in my mind, and their eyes.