Friday, August 3, 2012

did i do the right thing

When this little Angel landed in my life all broken and burnt and with his life hanging by a string, I simply knew I had to save him. There was no question about it. None at all. At that time saving him meant giving him back his little life, healing his wounds, easing his pain and smothering him with love. It was not easy but it did some the Gods were on my side. The child that had been declared moribund by the hospital and sent home with a death sentence refuted all prognostic and decided to live. With every passing day, despite excruciating pain, he cooperated in every way. He bore the pain of his dressings, gulped the chicken broth, ate whatever we gave him and fought his battle like a brave heart. Soon he was smiling again and as the bandages came off one after the other and the scars began to look less scary we all heaved a huge sigh of relief.

The years passed. Slowly we discovered the sordidness of his life: his parents' drinking, the lack of stability in their life, the lack of money for food, the brutal beatings. We tried to address them one at a time: gave the mom a job, got the little family a decent room, pitched in when needed but the bottle was too big an adversary and things began to fall apart. That is when I realised that mending the family was not the way to go. Harsher measures were to be taken as everything was falling apart. Visits to the cop station in the middle of the night; violence at homes, nights spent without food and strange men appearing with regularity. And above the innumerable visits to doctors and hospitals as the bonny fellow had fits and breathing problems and was pumped with steroids. This had to stop!

A feverish night spent on line looking for options bore its fruit. I found a rehab centre for the mom and a boarding school that took children from age four. It was summer time and school would open in a month. Utpal aka Popples spent that time at home. I spent the month wondering I was doing the right thing by sending a baby to school. At that time I was still hoping that the mom would clean up and taken on her responsibilities with a little help from us. School day dawned and the wails were heart rendering but the little boy, a survivor by nature settled down in an amazing manner. I on the other hand had a tough time as I bore the guilt of sending a baby into the big world. I dealt with it my way: I wrote my first book, Dear Popples.

The years went by but not without their share of problems. The mom relapsed again and again. Her erratic behaviour started taking its toll on the little boy and I had no option but to approach the authorities. The Child Welfare Committee named me person deemed fit to look after his interests. The court appearance was the last time the little boy saw his mom. She simply vanished. Utpal tried to deal with the sudden departure, one for which we adults had no answer. His behaviour changed, he was aggressive, demanding and quite unmanageable. We had to seek professional help and we did. Utpal is now under medication and goes for regular therapy sessions. He has accepted the departure of his mom but now wonders who does he belong to, who is his family.

This is the first time since the day he fell into my lap more than nine years ago that i wonder whether I did the right thing in saving him. Cruel words you would say but real ones. Saving a child means walking all the way. It is not a legal piece of paper with words like person deemed fit written on it, or oodles of funds that can buy every and any thing. No saving a life means being there at every moment. Saving a life means breaking every fall, soothing every hurt  answering every question no matter how difficult it may seem. Popples has told me more than once that I am old and I will die. It is a very important question for him as he wonders what he will do when I too disappear one day leaving him alone. The problem is that I can excpect others to care for him the way I did. I am overjoyed when I see how well my grandson and him get along. But will this continue as they grow up? I do not know. I only know that I have to secure his future no matter what as otherwise I will not be able to ever face myseld let alone face my Maker. I can only beseech the God of lesser beings to show me the way!

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