Vinayaka - one of my children, whom I have taught and loved since he was in class 3. His father had got paralysed waist down by then when he was driving a tractor and its breaks failed. His mother was a young girl herself, and was laboring and manageing the household. She was young, and had some affairs, which the village wisely and understandingly turned a blind eye to. Then once she ran away, and that was unacceptable to the village ... as the family with children and old people cannot be abandoned. But when she came back after some months, beaten and sent away by that man, the village in its infinite wisdom and practicality took her in again.
Vinayaka grew into one of the most charming (and dashing !) youngsters. The year the wells were full, I remember how he used to spend whole days at the well teaching small child after small child the intricacies of swimming - scattering fun and joy, and immerseing himself in it too. He used to jump from the top of the well, holding seven year old nandini in his arms, and they both used to drop like a stone into the well, and come shooting up.
He grew up, through the responsibilities and irresponsibilities of adolescence, and we had many gentle and not so gentle chats ... but he would always come home again, forgiving the not-so-kind statements I would have made with the easy abandon of youth towards age. He got into a scrap with a girl later which turned sour as her parents brought in the police, but I could not blame him in my heart ... for I had known and loved him since he was a child. And knew his essential goodness. One may judge only those whom one has known and loved.
Now he's getting married tomorrow ... in a village one has many children, and one's own child acquires many mothers ...
(Vinayaka, our tomorrow's bridegroom, is hanging off the stone step in air in this photo by the well ... )