If I can change one life, it would have been worth it is something I often say when asked about pwhy! I must admit that over the last 9 years we have managed to change many. Be it turning a failure into a topper, or fixing holes in broken hearts. I must confess that in most cases the realisation that we had achieved something was in hindsight, when one sat writing reports or reviewing times gone by.
I must again thank a little boy for having allowed me to experience one of the greatest moments of my life. Let me tell you how it happened.
Yesterday was the day when we had decided to take Babli to her new school. Everything was fixed and one of our staff was to accompany the little girl. On the eve of D day, I decided to call little Utpal in school and ask him if he wanted something. I was not breaking any rules as Mondays are when when one can call him. After the normal hellos and how are yous I asked my question. After a few seconds he said biscuits and chips and then in his tiny voice he added: tum bhi ajao (you also come). It was enough to get the old biddy to change all plans. Calls were made and plans altered. Ma’am had decided to accompany Babli to school.
On the scheduled morning we sat in my home waiting for the car to come. Babli sat quietly on a small chair and as I looked at her little determined face I suddenly realised that I was witnessing a stupendous moment: the transformation of a life. Nothing short of a miracle. Babli should not have been sitting here at all. Just a couple of years ago she was barely able to breathe, her little heart in need of serious repairs. And even after the much needed operation, she should have been at best in a government school and coming to pwhy like all little girls, in the afternoon. But that was not to be. We found her one day manning her father’s cart, and the sight of this bright child sitting on top of a cart selling tobacco was blood curdling. We set out on a damage control mission but it fell short of what we truly wanted for this child. And yet at that moment we were helpless as we had no options. Is that when I sent a prayer to the God of lesser beings? Maybe I did. I do not really know.
Babli went back to her municipal school, one where in her own words, teachers do not come and if they do turn up they do not teach. We continued looking for better options but nothing was forthcoming. I must confess that we felt desolate and a tad helpless at seeing this bright child waste away in front of our eyes but there was nothing we could do. We did not know that the God of lesser beings was at work, setting the stage for the miracle to come. Time went by, we were busy in our little lives and forgot about Babli. Fabulous things were happening: a potential donor had entered our lives and we were busy dreaming grand dreams. Actually we were counting our chickens before the eggs were hatched. Our dreams came tumbling down but not before another prop was set for Babli’s tomorrow. The foster care programme that was thrust upon was an indubitable reality and as we set out looking for kids, the first name that came to our minds was that of Babli. The rest is history. Babli took to her new life at our tiny centre like a fish to water and one year down the line she is ready to take a giant leap into the future. The script that had looked awry many a times was now revealed and the miracle that took 3 years in the making was now there for all to see. This was no celluloid tale or Kodak moment. This tiny slumGirl was ready to take on the world and become a millionaire in her own way. As I said earlier it was truly a phenomenal moment and I was privileged enough to witness it thanks to the pleading of a little boy.
Every step of that incredible journey from my kitchen to the little bed in a dorm was picture perfect and moving. Babli sat in dignified silence throughout the journey, only answering when talked to. She was lost in her thoughts and I would have given up my life to be privy to them but I simply kept silent. We reached school and again Babli waited patiently while we completed the formalities. By then it was 12pm and refreshment time. As we walked towards the hostel, a little hand caught hold of mine: it was Utpal. Babli was his old pal and soon they set off to stand in line to get their two bananas. Babli’s journey had begun and Utpal was there to guide her. We were already de trop!
After handing over Babli to the hostel staff, it was time to say bye bye. I mouthed the required: take care of yourself and listen to your teachers etc but it was really not needed. A simple look at Babli”s face was enough to know that this little woman of substance knew more than anything one else that she held the reins of her destiny in her own hands and she was not one to let go till she reached the end of the race.