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The only child celebrated her 63rd last week. You guessed right the only child is me! Being an only child is not easy. Being an only child to older parents is again not easy particularly when you come after a child who did not make it. The fear of losing you translates into an overload of protective love that isolates you even more. Add to that a nomadic life that takes you across the globe to strange lands with obsessive regularity shrinks your world even more as is apparent in the innumerable yellowed photographs that bear witness to my childhood: it is either me alone; me and one of my parents or the three us. True there were birthdays with beautifully crafted cakes and school friends, but somehow that was the exception and not the rule. I guess the seed of the recluse was planted in the early pages of my childhood. Loneliness was never an issue. Actually solitude has been my best friend. But God had other plans. I was gifted a family, one that grew by quantum leaps and across the universe. The only child would have a thousand children and innumerable friends.

When I talk of friends across the Universe, I say so with responsibility. I must have been around 13 or so when I was gifted my first copy of The Little Prince in Algiers by my History teacher. Since that day the little prince from another planet became friend and mentor in more ways than one and still is so imagine my surprise when I opened the gift given to me by the kids of my very special class: a painting of the Little Prince with my favourite quote: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. I have tried to live by that maxim and would like to believe that I have done so to the best of my ability.

Project Why is all about seeing with your heart. You could simply see beneficiaries and donors! But what I see is a family of thousand children and an abundant number of souls who see with their heart. This is my family, the one I waited for for many decades. How many of us can walk into their sunset surrounded by such a precious family. My life has truly been turned on its head as the loneliness of early year mutated into abundance and counting.

I know that there is a rose waiting for me on another planet, a rose I will eventually have to go back and tend to but till that moment I just want to bask unabashedly in the love that I have been given and enjoy every moment. Who needs travels and cruises; who needs gifts no matter how lavish. Nothing can surpass what I have today: the unquestionable love of those I call family.

If I were to make a wish it would simply be that my project why family be cared for when my rose calls.

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To the manor born