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Doing the will of God leaves me no time for disputing about His plans wrote George MacDonald, and many a times I find myself doing just so. It has been some time now since I have shred my hubris and tried playing God, as we far too often do. I have now reached the point where I accept everything that comes my way as part of His plan and hence no dispute.

It was not always the case, and to reach this point in time that I like calling wisdom, I had to take many blows. You see hubris is a lot like an onion; it comes off layer after layer each one making you shed a few tears.

To illustrate this, let me share a story: Popples (a.k.a Utpal)’s story.

He entered my life one fine morning when his family moved into the tenement adjoining the one that was our office. The place was so tiny that his mother bathed him out in the open just in front of our entrance. Was it serendipity or Act I of God’s plan that his bathing time coincided with my arrival time. He was just about one. A bonny baby with beautiful eyes and a smile to die for. So every morning I was greeted by that smile and entered my office smiling, my spirits lifted. He was my morning feel good shot. I would pat his head and asked the mom when she would send him to our creche and she would always tell me that she would after his first birthday which was days away. One fine morning it is not a smile that greeted me but a big lock on the tiny door of his house. I felt uneasy and hurried to try and find out what has happened. What I was told made my blood run cold: the little boy had sustained severe burns after ‘falling’ into a boiling wok and was dead. My heart missed a beat. I tried to assuage it by telling myself that a child with third degree burns did not have a great future in a slum and maybe his leaving us was better. The next days were muted. The lock on the door was enough to dampen the mood. I did not realise how much that little smile had meant to me.

Days passed slowly as I learnt to live without my daily smile. One day, it must have been a week or so after the terrible accident, I had barely alighted from my vehicle when a posse of screaming children ran to me each one trying to tell me something. It took me some time but I figured that the smile had not been extinguished and Utpal was home. I rushed to his house and was greeted by a weeping mother, a bundle swathed in bandages, some quite blood, and incoherent words as a paper was thrust towards me. It was a discharge slip that stated that the child was being sent home but the chances of survival were extremely poor. I looked up and was greeted by two trusting eyes that were filled with pain but also though it sounds incredible, hope. I found myself saying: you are going to live baby! I was high on hubris and thought I had all the answers. Foolish me did not realise that the stage had been set by Him.

Was it serendipity again that one of the volunteers working with us was not only a nurse but had worked in a children burns unit in one of the best hospitals in Paris and that Rani my trusted assistant was a nurse’s aid. Utpal never went back to the hospital as we set up one right there in my office. And in no time a huge support network appeared as by magic and the little boy was well on the road to recovery. A friend had suggested animal protein as essential (remember this was 13 years ago) and from that day on fresh chicken soup was made everyday in my home and poured into a black flask that the little fellow learnt to recognise. A cot was set up in my office and that is where he spent the day. Though his milestones were delayed, each time I worried about one, it was crossed in the days to come. In hindsight I should have realised that someone was holding the strings. But then when one is prey to hubris, one is hopelessly blind.

When we discovered that the mother had a drinking problem, one again played God and made plans. First it was to give her a job, then a home and so on. When that did not work we were at it again: rehab for the mom, boarding school for the kid. One even had the audacity to think ahead: after rehab ( of course she would recover) a residential job in the (then mythical) women centre that we would have conjured. And we did. It was a perfect fit: mom had a job and a safe place to stay, child would have a place to spend his holidays. But that was not His plan at all. Mom had a meltdown you see it was not only the bottle as she was diagnosed as being bipolar. So what we had the answer again. A longer rehab and life time medication that of course we would control. But mom ran away and thus began a terrible time when the child began to be used by the parents to access money. But we had a solution to everything we would help the father start business as a carpenter all he needed was tools, some space and a little wood to start et voila! Tools and wood were sold for liquor and we were back to square one, or minus one as the mom started drinking again and did not take her medication. The whole plan to get the family back on track was blown away. I guess that was the time when the layers of hubris began to come off, albeit slowly.

The situation with the parents became untenable and we looked for ways to protect the child from the abuse he was subjected to. It became imperative to get some legal support and a series of events brought us to the Children’s Court where I was ultimately  declared ‘person fit’ to look after Utpal. I again thought that things had fallen in place. But the mom decided to vanish and the trauma was too much for the child. So it was the child psychiatrist, counselling and so on. I slowly began to see what God’s plan was. I had a huge role to play in this child’s destiny, a bigger one that I had anticipated, one that was not in my control. I just had to follow His plans.

Today I realise that this child of God has been sent to test me and divest me of any remnant of hubris that could be still lurking around. Ours is a ’till death do us part’ deal with challenges thrown to test my mettle. I have to do the will of God. There is no time to dispute anything.

The bonny one year old is now a teenager. He is no more the little happy bundle that one carried on one’s hip and who did those endearing things that every one swooned over. He is a 13 year old with is moods and wants. His voice is cracking and a fuzz has appeared on his lips. He is into football and tennis and loves his screen. Now at 63 it is hard to be a mom. You have earned the right to be a granny and granny are meant to spoil silly. But then with him you are also mentor and friend and need to apply brakes when needed. I must say I am terrible at that.

You would not believe what my week end assignment was. Utpal was home for the weekend and declared that he needed things to decorate his dorm as there was a competition for the best dorm. After much deliberation it was decided that we would get a nice clock for the room and posters as that is what he wanted. Posters of Bruce Lee, Ronaldo and Messi! I told you he is a teenager. Anyway I though easy peasy we would go to Archies and find everything. Imagine my dismay when I was told that they did not have posters and that to get posters. We could try the pavements of some popular markets in the evening. Come on there had to be some place where one could find posters. So stubbornly I went to other shops but with no success. I was flummoxed. Did teenagers not stick posters on their walls anymore. Come on old biddy they do but you buy them online. You guessed right: they have been ordered.

This was a taste of what is yet to come. I guess we will have to deal with clothes – already begun – and girls, and love and career choices. Gosh I guess I was done with that. Did I not begin this journey flushed with hubris believing I would write the script. Wrong! It was His script and the day I reached out my hand there was no looking back. I was His will. Now it is to me to be worthy of it.

I feel blessed.

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To the manor born