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Utpal on his 13th birthday
March 12 2015

This picture was taken last week on Utpal’s birthday which we celebrated in his school with cake and samosas. He is 13! A teenager! How time flies. He was the perfect host and made sure all his friends got enough to eat and drink. He also made sure that his teachers got a piece of cake and did not forget the guard on duty. I was proud but not surprised. Utpal has always been the perfect host. Even when he was three year old, he was just that: a perfect host! At that tender age he even knew the importance of returning hospitality. We have come a long way Utpal and I. And every step we have taken together has been a blessed one, even in times of strife. He made my world a better place from the instant he walked into my heart. That was 10 years ago. You must be wondering why I seem to be being around the bush and yes I am. That is because what I need to share today is not easy and actually even frightening. The scariest deafening why lurks around the corner and I am petrified. The answer to this one keeps eluding me. I can only pray that I have one in time.

This is what Popples looked like when he came into my life. Scalded, hurt and almost moribund. For months we fought to ensure  that he would heal and keep all his milestones. I remember how I would make fresh chicken soup for him every day and how he had learnt to recognise the flask and give his most endearing smile when he spotted it. Ok here I am meandering again. Time to get to the point and the why! Soon Utpal will be 18. As per the juvenile justice act, my guardianship will end and as again as per the totally absurd and poorly conceived law, he will be an adult and in charge of his life. Yes in India, even children who are in institutions are let out in the big bad world overnight. How they are supposed to manage is anyone’s guess. I know of organisations that employ them to that they can remain in safe. Law or no law, guardianship or no guardianship, Utpal will always have a home that crosses seas and mountains. He is ours forever! However there will be a day when he will ask about  his mom and about what we did for her and should that be not up to the mark then he will ask the dreaded why: Why did you not take care of her. I can never forget the touching quote that says: God to whom little boys say their prayers has a face very like their mother’s. I need to be ready with the right and honest answer.

To a boy, no mom is flawed; but to the world this mom has had a rough deal. Being an alkie and bipolar is a rough deal for any woman but a nightmare for one born on the word side of the fence. We did every thing we could to help her: several rehabs, stays in homes etc but the bottle won and we failed. She disappeared for 4 long years causing havoc in her son’s life that we had to piece again with love and patience. Then she came back, married a man with three kids, left him, lived with another abusive one, was rejected by the only family she has (one sister-in-law and 2 nephews) who refused to take her in. Years of abuse have left her incapacitated. Sh cannot work as she does not have the strength and her manic depression has taken its toll on her mind and turned her into a child. She needs a place where she can be safe and cared for medically. That is according to the best solution. This is also the answer I can be comfortable with when asked the dreaded question.

We are in the midst of searching for such a place but it is no mean task. I hope and pray we can find one that she is happy in and where her son can meet her the day he so decides.

When you take someone’s hand in yours, it is for better or worse till death do us part.

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To the manor born