The Day I found Myself… Story Of An Orphan
The Day I found Myself… Story Of An Orphan9 mins 169 9 mins 169
It was the year 1978. Like every one of us, I too was born crying and screeching. I had no clue where I was born, but later, when I got my bearings, I found out that I was in an orphanage. There were many, many of us there with hardly anything to wear and eat. We just about spent each day as it came with not much of a hope for our futures. However, there must have been some guardian angel who stood over me, as I was the chosen one. Because one fine day I got adopted.
I went into a family with a mother, a father and I even got an elder sister. It was a nice cozy home and I was welcomed. Things were good, we were rich and most importantly, there was food on the table every single day! What more could I have asked for? My childhood was mostly very pleasant because my elder sister and I did a lot of fun stuff together, we played in the garden, we played pranks on each other and there was a lot of laughter. However, my dad was a strict disciplinarian. Even as a child, I sometimes wondered why I had been chosen… because I recollect, back then I had two major problems. (1) I could hardly get words out of my mouth. I could hardly speak, leave alone the problem that I could not understand the tongue that my parents and my sister spoke. Maybe because I came from a different place, it was very tough to understand their dialect or language. That was the first issue. So I could not be very communicative. (2) the second issue was that I was very short-statured – almost a dwarf. I wondered, what made them choose me out of all of the other beautiful children they could have gotten from the orphanage. Yet, those things did not concern me much, as basically I was a happy child and was having a very good time.
In spite of this, I must say that every child is observant. Even an infant for that matter. So, what I noticed in my new family was that I was not treated the same as my sister. She had way more freedom than I did. She was treated differently. I can give you an example... if suppose you had a child in your house and you wanted to serve him or her breakfast – what would you do? You would lay the breakfast and ask the child to come and eat. But not for me. The rules were not the same… I would be asked to go and fetch my plate... a plate that was kept stacked separately and even before I could eat, my sister had this very annoying habit of going and hiding someplace, and I would have to go and find her first... and there were times when I would be asked to demonstrate how fast I could run before I could get to eat my breakfast. I don’t know… but my family seemed to derive some odd pleasure making me do these things and it made me feel sad at times. But, I would carry out their wishes without protest, because at the end of it I would get my FOOD! I came from an orphanage and I knew what it felt like to go without any food! I was at least getting food here.
There is another memory that I still, to this day, cringe thinking of. You see, when I was new to the family, a lot of friends and relatives were curious to see the newly added family member and so, I was paraded in front of them and I was even taught how to say NAMASTE and shake hands with the gentlemen. So, to all the guests, I would repeatedly have to say namaste or shake hands. That was not cool at all!!
There were other incidents too – like for instance, in the room that I shared with my sister, there was a small sparrow nest on the loft. On that particular day, the mother sparrow was missing and I noticed that the baby sparrow had fallen out of her nest. She was lying on the floor and gasping for breath. My sister was not around. I wanted to save the baby. I had seen the mother sparrow try and teach the other baby sparrows how to fly and so, I thought – maybe this baby sparrow is not able to fly inside the room and so, I picked her up and took her to the garden with the intention of asking her to fly... but our housemaid who saw me do this presumed that I had killed the sparrow baby and she complained – and my mother thrashed me. I tried my level best to explain and express myself – that I was innocent and I did not mean to harm the sparrow, but who would listen to me! That memory still is hurtful. Can you imagine a baby being thrashed?
Well, life went on, it wasn’t that bad…Then there came a day when I knew that something was going to happen. I had a premonition. For one, I noticed that my mom and dad were packing stuff, all the things in the house were getting put into boxes. I did not know why, but they seemed very reluctant and sad. So, I did my best to help too... I wanted to help with the chores, but for some reason, I was kept at bay. It hurt me a lot, because, my sister was allowed to do her packing. She could pack her stuff, but not me! and by the end of the day, I was sure something phenomenal was going to happen as I saw my mom cry. And when I saw her cry, all I could do was cry too – because I knew that my mom was hurting. Later in the evening, there came a lorry and all the packed stuff and furniture was loaded on to the lorry. Then the lorry left. Next came a taxi. And I knew my parents were in a hurry as they were loading stuff inside the taxi because we had a train to catch.
Suddenly for some reason, my dad just called me and said – “Pick up your plate”. I did because I was a very obedient child. And then he said – "come with me". As we walked a couple of streets away, I noticed that we were heading towards uncle Janardhan’s house. He was my dad’s colleague from the office and he would visit us often. Once we reached Uncle’s house, dad told me “ go inside and sit down, I will come”. And as I sat in the strange drawing-room, wondering what was happening, I heard my dad and uncle Janardhan exchange a few words and then my dad left. I waited and waited and waited but it was very long and when dad did not come back, and it was only uncle Janardhan who came back into the room, I knew that I had been abandoned. Maybe that was the day that I felt that I was an orphan again. And for some reason, my tears just wouldn't stop flowing from my eyes.
After some time, I suddenly heard the gate open and I was wondering who it could be and then in marched my sister. She glared at uncle Janardhan and said: “ Uncle, I am taking my brother with me”. That’s all she said and then she carried me. I cannot express the joy I felt – you know – to feel wanted again. And then, off we huddled into the taxi and headed towards the station. OOwwe!! the train journey! don’t ask me !! I don’t know about other children, but I felt terrified! It was one of the experiences, I would NEVER want to go through again. The noise, the sounds, the crowd, the engine, and the smoke – My Goodness! I threw a tantrum in our coupe. But my parents and sister put up with me.
The train sped along and on the next morning, we reached another city – a place called “ Hyderabad”. We went there because my dad had gotten a transfer. We had not yet found a house, so were given a guest house to stay in. And I tell ya, the two months at the guest house were the best times of my life because there were so many other children around and I would play all day long. And the beauty about children is that – nobody minded that I didn’t understand or speak their language nor did they mind that I was a tiny little dwarf or that I looked different. No questions asked! They just accepted me as their friend and I loved my friends. So that was how life was in Hyderabad. My sister had joined a nearby school and dad his office – the daily routine was all set. Still, in the heart of my hearts- I always felt a little sad thinking, “why had my dad wanted to abandon me?” Was it because I had still not gotten to SPEAKING their tongue? Was it because I was a dwarf? I was dispensable !!! So will I be abandoned again? Will I find myself in the orphanage again?
You would be surprised that a mere child can think so deeply and feel so insecure. YES! A child does remember. And I did. I so badly wanted to prove to my parents that I am WORTH keeping, but I just didn’t know-how. I was always in my best behavior; I obeyed and did all that they wanted.
One day, as all of us children were playing, Rani the little 2-year-old toddler went crawling along the compound wall…and there was a small hole in the compound wall – which she climbed into. There was a ditch behind it. I was the only one who had noticed her go there. No one else had noticed. After some time when everyone went back home, Rani’s parents realized she was missing. There was a frantic search for Rani. Everyone went helter-skelter searching for her. But, I knew where she was. I told my sister, but she just would not listen to me – or she probably could not understand me. So, ultimately I had to drag and pull her along and tried to tell her LOOK NEAR THE WALL PLEASE…and then my sister realized that I meant business! She then told “ Uncle – I think Deepu is trying to tell us that Rani is here... Let’s shine the torch into this hole and see”. So when they shone the torch, Lo and behold – there was little Rani, huddled up inside the ditch almost unconscious! They then got her out and cleaned her up. That very night, there was a function held! All of us gathered. You know what – Friends! That was the day I found myself !! That was because – My Dad picked me up, held me close, hugged me, and announced to the whole gathering, “ I am so proud of Deepu”!! My dog – a dachshund who is so small and short… I thought that he was dumb! but, today, he has proved that he is the best companion that anyone can ask for”.
That day my friends, my life was made. I knew that I would never be abandoned again by my family. For all of you who are wondering - who just spoke to you – that was in the first person – Deepu my dog and me, Padma was his elder sister. This is a real-life incident and Deepu was my dog.