Written by: Shreyashree Sarkar

“Didi(sister)? Will you please pick me up?”Why?”

“My mum and dad’s pictures are stuck on the door of that cupboard. I can’t reach out to them with my small hands..”
“Uh..huh?”
I was perplexed.
“Didi, I want to see my parents…”

“But little one, how will you SEE them?”

“You know Didi, Jesus Christ took my eyes, But he gave me the power to see with my touch and feel with my imaginations.” she paused…”Out beyond the reach of sighted ones, there’s the world so bleak and black, I belong there.”

It was a summer afternoon. There was a flush of anticipation as I trailed behind my friend through the creaking main gate of the orphanage.

Inside, I found 36 little bundles of happiness.

As the days went by, some of the kids started calling me ‘Ma’. You’d never believe, this little syllable swerved like hurricanes of ecstasy through me.

I was a mother.

Gradually without my little ones, I couldn’t survive a day,

Well, caretakers neither could they…

“Ma, where were you yesterday? Why didn’t you come?” Mamata comes limping, to me.

“I’m sorry, Mamata. I had a test at college”

“Couldn’t you ask your teacher to leave you? You don’t love me, maa?”

“I do…”

She runs to put her arms around my legs

“Yesterday, Minu Ma (caretakers) slapped me.” She shows the red welts on her cheeks. Her ignorant tears crawling down to my palms. “She called me ‘harami’…” She lifts her head to me… “Ma? Am I a Harami (bastard)?”

Often the caretakers took a break from rebuking and thrashing the children to talk to me. It was from them that I came to know that Mamata was abandoned by her mother when she was just two because she had a congenital defect in her legs. The lady never came back. Like her, most of these kids were uncoveted gifts of God to their parents … They were, an unapologetic mistake…

“Didi, ..do you know how my mother looks like?” Quibbles Shubham

Krish can’t speak. So when he misses his mom, he hugs me and cries.

“Maa? Will you bring the nail polish you’re wearing for me?” chirps Shalini

“And I want books. Lots of books” says, Mariya…

“Aunty aunty, please feed me”

I could see the craving for a family in their eyes… A craving that grew out of deprivation. Their despair and innocence pierced deep through me… It’s scary how love grew in me, again,  unashamedly.

The bunch of kids that ran madly towards me with open arms and squeals of laughter as I set foot into that dilapidated building…

That’s how my damaged soul found it’s way to paradise.

This was my love story…