Tuesday, 27 May 2014

An inner strength

All my children ... Paalaguttapalle (Dalitwada)

Unconcsiously the children transcend all crises. Life is full of challenges for them. They have the sense and strength to deal with them.

As Sivarani’s father struggled and paid her expenses as she studied in Tirupathi, she shared a room with other girls.They would all share the rent and cooking expenses. She told us how those girls would ask her to come shopping with them, and how finally she had to bluntly tell them that her family situation is different from theirs, that her father has to labour hard to even pay the fees, and that further spending on herself was impossible for her. She said that once she was frank, her roommates were understanding.

Vishnu despite being very bright and likeable and pretty saw her past catch up with her when she moved to Tirupathi to do her diploma after her tenth. She said she had no friends as the other children would not talk to her. The fact that she had studied in a Telugu medium school meant that she found the learning more difficult here. She said the teachers were also biased against her as the other parents who came to see their wards would meet the teachers and impress them. In her case, her parents were obviously dalits and uneducated. Then her father’s illness, mother’s debts and brother’s suicide in 2012 suddenly saw her secure and comparatively well off life disintegrate, but she continued with her studies in Tirupathi. She had in earlier years been a pampered child with new clothes for every birthday. On her birthday in 2013, when a neighbor wished her and asked her for toffees, she simled wanly and said, ‘If there is money, there is a birthday.’

Somehow through all the difficulties, the children stay cheerful and positive. Something in the community and lifestyle gives them that attitude. They are very responsible, and by the same token retain a childlikeness too. But different children have grown up with different personalities and there are the myriad colours one sees in humankind ...

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