She must be well around thirteen or fourteen – a time when many her age would be happily ensconced in the cozy comfort of their delightful homes enjoying their delightful siestas in the midday - when summer had started, and schools were off bounds for the annual holidays!
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Aimlessly loitering in and around our street, for well over an hour by now, with tears in her eyes and a desolate look on her face, i guessed something was amiss! I just watched! After strolling around for quite some time, she at last crouched herself under a huge neem tree in front of our house!
Still curious, I peeped out to see what she was doing!
She was sobbing! A faint whimper at that!
I soon knocked at the doors of my neighbor aunt (Mrs. Julian) and requested her to enquire after the little girl! But to our consternation, the little girl wasn’t willing in any way to respond to our voices!
She only kept sobbing!
On seeing the commotion, very soon, a few well-wishers in and around our vicinity arrived in no time, to to try their luck in asking her about her whereabouts! and her grievance! But no reply was forthcoming! In vain they all left! She kept on dodging all questions thrown at her!
When one of our neighbours suggested that we call the women’s police station to come and rescue her and enquire about her, the little girl burst out crying! She said a vehement NO to this suggestion!
It took a long time time for all of us to pacify her!
We didn’t know what to do! Finally ‘an archimedian eureka-like’ idea popped up! I decided, as a last resort, to call a Prof from the Social Work department – Prof. Prince Annadurai! I apprised him of the situation!
‘Rufus! Just see to it that she stays put! I’m sending a team rightaway!'
And in no time, a team of five girls and a boy from the Dept of Social Work were there in front of our house.
The girls displayed perfect sense of cordiality and a bonhomie when relating themselves to the girl! Very soon the girl was convinced to the core that she was in good company!
Thus, after a long time, she stopped her sobbing, and looked up with a faint glimmer of hope in her eyes!
I invited them alll to come inside our house!
I also called up our gardener Prem Annan to get coffee and snacks for all of us!
And he readily obliged us!
And for the next one to two hours it was the way of the social work interns or students!
How beautifully they interacted with her, bringing out a smile from the parched lips of this little girl!
How well they asked her for information about her whereabouts taking the 'utmostest' care not to embarrass her in any way whatsoever!
And now, the little girl started her story!
We were all ears!
She narrated how she was orphaned, - in Tiruvannamalai – the place of her birth - and how she grew up in her grandmother’s house, and how she was later sold off to some honchos who in turn gave her to a family in Tambaram, a family where she literally worked as a slave 24 x7, without any rest whatsoever, with hurls and abuses piled up by the dozen, and bruises and burn marks on her fragile limbs being her only reward for more than a year!
Enough, she had decided!
Enough with this life!
Enough with this ruthless, tyrannical masters who do not have the least sympathy whatsoever!
Enough with a life that has little meaning within the four corners of a tyrannical landlord/lady who didn’t care a whiff about her life!
Having resolved thus, she had charted her way out of her tyrant’s place, in Selaiyur, in the morning, and now, as didn’t have any money on her hands, she was literally desolate and dejected, not knowing what to do!
A bud that has been trampled by selfish, ruthless and tyrannical tyrants!
A bud that has no voice of her own!
A bud that has no room of her own!
A bud that has nobody to call her own!
A bud that has nobody to come to her defence!
Now this bud is perched in a precarious predicament, not knowing what the future holds for her!
Not knowing if someone is there to take care of her!
The pangs of poverty! How much they hurt!
The pangs of cruelty! How hard they hurt!
In no time, the Social Work students were enlivening the hall of our house with a mirth that was only increasing by the number! Soon, our long awaited coffee and snacks too had arrived and what happiness oozed out from their approach to her plight!
I can’t say what tricks these little wizards from social work had up their sleeves!
But the way these kids approached this little girl speaks volumes to the grace and goodwill, finesse and elegance that they have cultivated in their wonderful stint in Social Work at MCC!
In no time, the girls had charmed their little magic casement – this little girl – within their loving embrace!
By now the little girl was at ease, and for the first time, we could see her chuckling and smiling and laughing to her heart’s merriment!
Now, as it was time to depart, and the girls had got a wonderful strategy at hand, I said, ‘do whatever merits the condition!’
The little girl now stood up from the sofa, and came up with a little hesitation to one of the girls from II MA Social Work. She walks straight up to her – the girl who was the most enthusiastic entertainer of the lot – and tells her,
Shall I ask you something?
‘Will you take me along with you! Pleaseeee!’
The parameter of the sound that sustained itself in the word ‘pleaseee’ that came out from her yearning heart literally wrenched our hearts!
I called up Prof. Prince rightaway and congratulated him on the wonderful students that they’ve been blessed with!
Such felicity of expression! Such gentleness that melts hearts and heals wounds!
Indeed, these kids – hardly in their twenties - were able to achieve within no time, what our friendly neighbours and well-wishers and passers-by couldn’t achieve for many many hours of the day!
Indeed, I was personally convinced that very moment that, students who’ve taken to Social Work are indeed always a cut above the rest because, service to them is not a profession, but a way of life! A Calling!! A Vocation!!!
And only the chosen few can have the blessing and the joy of being a part of this wonderful endeavour.
Ennobling minds and making the burdens light!
With zeal and dedication, commitment and resolve, passion and love,
All through their life!!
This incident happened years back! But today, I post this, because, I happened to get a surprise call from one of the girls, who was part of the team that came to my house, inviting me over to her wedding!
I assured her of my presence at her wedding!
Before signing off over the phone, she said, ‘And Sir, Buvana has finished her Plus Two now, and she has enrolled for an Undergraduate course in a very good women’s college now!’
I was stupefied! Thrilled!
Words failed me, when I heard these words!
‘Yes, sir!’ See ya soon sir. Bye!’
She signed off!
These kids had all along quietly made a convincing and committed difference in the life of this little girl!!! and how!!!
I cut the call with a joy that cannot be………!
PS: Name of the girl changed to protect her identity. Also please do read an exclusive letter written by a college girl (not from MCC!) to her mom, shared exclusively on our blog HERE by my bestie Prof. Daniel David, (Head, Dept of English, SFS) years back! Me thought this article would merit the occasion!