Beware of Pity Part 2

> Continued from Beware of Pity part-1

Anuradha Bhosale

Anuradha Bhosale

 … We looked to her for the past few years as our showpiece, our success story. We have tried all possible alternatives but to no avail. She likes cooking. Therefore we thought of giving her training in hospitality or catering. but she did not show any interest in building a career as such. She became very domineering and violent in her behavior with the younger children of AVANI. Indulged in indiscipline, she abandoned herself from the hostel and stayed with a relative without prior permission from our center’s Rector.

For seven long years none came to take Pallavi home for a holiday, and suddenly one day in May last Pallavi’s uncle came to AVANI to take her to his home. She was overjoyed; at last some relative did care for her. She implored me urgently to allow her to spend just 2 days in uncle’s home. The uncle also seemed quite keen and sincere in his importunities and I finally agreed to allow her to take leave for two days. I had nonetheless taken care to arrange for the sojourn with the written consent of the Child Welfare Department, because she now was 18. Days passed but there was no inkling about her whereabouts. After good 15 days when I phoned her she flatly refused to return. She showed the temerity of telling me to handover her things to the uncle who would arrive to collect them! We all were much perplexed.

In strong words I demanded of her uncle to bring Pallavi along. Then they came: I was astounded to see the complete transformation in her looks. She had got her eyebrows done, she had shortened her hair, and the hairstyle had become completely rakish. I was very furious but I controlled myself. I asked the uncle to sit in the office; and I took her into an anteroom; and tried to find out the truth. At her uncle’s place she came in contact with her young cousin. She was emphatic she wanted nothing else in the world but to get married to him, as quickly as possible. Even our chairman Dr.Arun Chavan travelled to Kolhapur from Sangli and spent quite some hours persuading her to reconsider. But she was adamant. My anxiety about her future is well –founded : The young fellow is uneducated, survives as an unskilled wage labour, and, to boot, is prone to alcoholic drinks.

The one mistake I made of allowing her to have a break caused such complications. I learnt an important lesson, one must be wary about reacting on the spur of an emotional moment.

She has affection for her brother. He gets epileptic fits. His lot as a motherless child and with a part of the hand missing, the grandparents doted upon him to a fault, which twisted him into a spoilt child. And now he has no means for survival other than begging, unless succour somehow comes forth from Pallavi. She likes her maternal grandfather, who is now very old and hardly lives hand – to – mouth. But she has never betrayed any feelings for those AVANI activists who have taken care of her for all these years. I don’t think she has developed close friendship with any of those of the inmates with whom she grew together. It seems there is some psychological no – man’s land in her inscape which is bereft of any living organisms, a landscape without greenery, drab and disheveled. Perhaps, if able to make a family on her terms, her ship of life may regain a smooth passage on an even keel. But, admittedly, in this venture there are obvious pitfalls. Only an angel for a husband, a loving father figure, a man of infinite understanding, endowing only a few children for her to dote upon, can embody the cure fit for her chronic absence of wellness.

The roots of her problems, or I should say, the cause of our problem which she has posed before us lies elsewhere. She refuses to have her life mended and laundered clean of the injurious past. She is blithely indifferent about her fate if she goes into the wide world and fends for herself.

And finally, after exhausting all possibilities we notified the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of the govt. and planned to hand her over to her relatives in the presence of the (CWC). On the appointed day our activists waited for her relatives (an uncle and someone else) from 4 to 8 pm but none turned up. So, Pallavi was brought back to AVANI. I was interested to know what her immediate reaction was at the moment she realized that no uncle or none was interested to officially take charge of her. What puzzles and perplexes me is the casualness bordering almost on flippancy with which she faced the situation. Neither remorse, nor anxiety, nor pensiveness about another beginning. She came back to AVANI, where she apparently loathed to be, and resumed her life’s narrative just turning the next page with light fingers.

I remember the Hollywood film ‘Belinda’, a story of a raped deaf and dumb girl. I think she is our Belinda. But Belinda of the film finds salvation in a man who urges her to accept him and finally wins her. I do not know what is written in the fortune of our ‘Belinda.’

Free English rendering : Arun Chavan
Original Marathi by : Anuradha Bhosale

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Anuradha Bhosale graduated from the Tata Institute for Social Work in Mumbai and worked as an apprentice to Arun Chavan at Verala Development Society. After understanding the needs of the area she branched out on her own creating a small organization called AVANI which is a Marathi language acronym for Clothes, Food and Home for the poor children.

Arun Chavan was a professor of English Literature at Kolhapur University when he saw the poverty and destitution that surrounded him. He decided to give up his job and devote his life to working for the poor. He founded the Verala Development Society and has been working for the past 40 years to bring about a socio-economic change in the area.

 

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