Monday, October 27, 2008

A short story about relationships - not far from reality...!

Hina is a 13 year old girl. I have known her through my visits to the orphanage. Whenever I have spoken to her, I found her to be a lot like her other colleagues albeit a bit too casual, giggly and uncaring specially in the presence of a visitor, when all the other inmates are on their best behaviour.
I wondered about Hina.....what makes her different from others...?
This is Hina's story, as I saw through her own eyes......!

My suspicions were not unfounded about going to the orphanage with chachhi and chacha. They told us - me (10 yrs) and my sister (14 years old), that we have been lucky to get admission in a great school with full boarding. It was a hot, sultry afternoon as we set out first in a bus for 6 hours and then in an auto rickshaw towards this new boarding school. From the way chacha was giving directions to our auto driver, it was obvious he had visited this school several times before. Although I wondered why the school was so far removed from the big city area if it was a great school, it didn't bother me much. It was mot important. But when the vehicle actually stopped in front of a huge building I was impressed by Chacha's choice. He must love us, I thought. After all we were both his brother's children. My sister seemed a little too quiet, I thought. As we approached the office, we were met by a solemn looking lady, who seemed to have difficulty smiling at any one. Though she was greeting our guardians, her eyes kept darting towards me and my sister. I heard chacha say, 'Mrs Mallya is in charge of everything here. I do not want any complaints regarding your behaviour or studies'. He left abruptly with a fleeting look at us, while chachi had already begun sliding her huge body into the vehicle which was waiting outside. It suddenly hit me that we were actually abandoned by them. What was this place...? who is Mrs Mallya...? Where was the school/boarding.?.....I soon found out everything.

Mrs Mallya was immediately glad that she need'nt smile any more. She was in total command of the state of affairs at 'The oprphanage' as I found out very soon. I figured out a lot many things very soon...Chacha was not going to look after us any more. He had admitted us here - this was an orphanage that ran on charities. All the inmates here were girls, and each of them was a deprived child - either of a mother or father or both - like us. We all shared a common bond of being a deprived lot. There were 51 girls including both of us. Mrs Mallya was not on board the orphanage, in fact she was the chief trustee, who lived in town and ran from post to post collecting funds to run the O. She was obviously doing this to attain a superior place in heaven, when we all die. I felt no gratitude to her. My sister always found ways and means to please Mrs M, but it did'nt seem necessary to me. If she was doing all this to go to heaven, she will be rewarded by God for her work. Why did I have to be grateful to her? I thought. To me she was a hard hitting, crude, and selfish old hag. I hated it most when she would walk into the hall asking for me. I would be sure, Naani had complained about me, and a boring lecture from Mrs M was forthcoming. My reaction was always planned. I just heard her out without responding. Her barrage of words also seemed pre planned. She would start by asking me how I was (as if she cared...!), then tell me about how I need to work harder on my Math, and English (she was wasting her time ...!) Sometimes she would add 'your sister is showing good improvement. So why can't you also improve..? haan...? (Coz I could'nt care less). And when I did'nt respond to her myriad of questions, she would bring up the most deplorable subject.....'and how long are you going to wet your bed each night? This is a hopeless situation. You have been told to wake up during the night and go the loo even if you did'nt feel like passing urine. It helped last week. Why have you stopped getting up and going to the loo....? answer me...?' I was'nt going to discuss this with her, even if she questioned me a zillion times. I hated her most for bringing up this subject. It was bad enough she sent me to that bad doctor in a dingy lane with Naani who kept looking at my boobs all the time and stroking my back feeling my body every where. He asked me questions about why I wet my bed at night and what did I feel as I was wetting it. It was disgusting of him. His smile was sickly too. Now Mrs M kept talking about it again...' do you want to see the doctor again, may be he will give you some medicine this time....' 'NO' I said, without hesitation. I promised to Mrs M that I would wake up each night at 3.00 am and go to the loo with Shabana, my sister. We both shared a room with 2 other girls who were also sisters. They had lost their parents in an accident when they were returning from a wedding in a truck which fell from the mountain road while the driver lost control. Our room mates were in class 6 & 8 and were among the best behaved lot. They scored good grades too. Mrs M was of the opinion that we both would benefit by sharing room with them. That week Shabana woke me up at night, and accompanied me to the loo. After a week I was too sleepy to wake up; besides I was sure I did'nt need to go to the loo. But the next morning I made sure she told no one that I had'nt gone to the loo. It threw Mrs M completely out of gear when bed wetting continued. She wondered the cause of it all...! At first I was releived that the whole thing was off my head, then slowly I felt even triumphant.
As time went by I got accustomed to life in the Orphanage. Chacha hardly ever came to see us; but when it was summer most children went home to their other parent or some distant relative. For a couple of years Chacha was good to us, but not chachi. She would openly tell us we could have continued staying at the Orphanage. Mrs M was beginning to worry about other inmates about our influence on them, I could sense from her talk with regular visitors. One evening a professional councellor was called to meet us. My sister and I had separate sessions with the counsellor. She first took me out in her car for a drive. On the way she bought me Ice cream. It was an expensive ice cream and I had never tasted anything like that before. She asked me to talk about myself, whatever I wanted to tell her....She said she would consider buying another ice cream too. I realised that I need to talk if I wanted the ice cream....' I like all the children in the orphanage.....Noorie is my best friend (noorie 6 yrs, had joined us 2 weeks ago).... I would like to improve Math & English, but I find it tough....can I get private tuitions for it...? I try to be a good girl, I like to be well behaved, but I cannot do it always. I try but I fail. Some times I like telling lies....I will try to be cleaner now onwards....etc. After the second ice cream, I realised that I can be myself. 'I know my father was a good man....He used to drive me around in his auto rickshaw....we used to laugh a lot...' yes, I remember him, because my sister has a photograph of him. ....' Then she asked me ....'Do you remember your mother...? ' I said'yes'....Would you like to be with her if she came out of jail and took you home..? 'NO" was my reply. She looked surprised. So I told her ... 'she will kill me..!' She looked aghast..." she killed my father"...! my counsellor thought at this point that I was telling a lot of lies, and she decided to take me back to the orphanage. I am told she prescibed anti depressants and some calming tablets for me. I have been eating them since months.
This year Chacha and chachi were going to attend a wedding in summer, hence we were not to go to them during this summer. There were 4 other girls aged 6, 7, 7 and 11 yrs who had no where to go. Mrs M allya's endevour was to get one of trustee members to take one each girl to their own house for a short duration, say a week. Shabana and I went to a senior couple's home in the city. They were rich folks and ate wonderful food. be continued !

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