Thursday, July 12, 2007
Image courtesy: Nishant Ratnakar-BM
Kids do the darndest things. Indeed! One of them is Men (pronounced Meen) Bahadur, (an approximately) 10-year old Nepali kid languishing in the Government Boys home in Bangalore. Well, he hasn't committed any crime. He's just there because the government simply doesn't know where to send him. Besides the fact that he stayed near a mountain and a lake in Nepal, he doesn't remember anything. Men's living in Bangalore for the past six years which roughly means that he ran away from Nepal when he was around 4 years. Well, the government officials are currently trying hard to find his kith and kin. There is a fear amongst the officials that as days pass by, it would be difficult for them to help him since he would forget whatever little he remembers now.
I was chatting up with him. He told me lot of things. He opened up a lot to me. He kept telling me that he doesn't want to go back to his parents. When I asked him why, he told me that they are 'bagde' parents. Bagde in Kannada means Rented. Rented parents? I kept wondering what it meant. Then I figured out that he was referring to his foster parents. Apparently, his parents died when he was very young. He was taken care of by the foster parents. However, his father used to beat him quite a lot. "That's why I used to run away", he says. When I asked him how he managed to reach Bangalore, he innocently told me that he just hopped inside a bus to Bangalore from Nepal. I wonder if there is a direct bus service like that, hehe. I don't think he remembers how he came here.
He told me things that he hadn't told the government officials yet. He told me that his brother used to work in the defence service and that he was in Bangalore for some training. The officials have taken a note of it. hopefully it should be of some use :) During the conversation, I wondered what might have prompted him to run away in search of his brother.He still hopes that he would be able to find his brother. Kids don't take drastic decisions like these. I think, the foster father would have really beaten him badly to have prompted him to take such a step. or probably he would have plainly got lost. I don't know. But the fact that he is so keen to go back to his brother and not his foster parents does indicate the former.
Actually, nobody knows his exact age since he's a runaway kid. I wondered when he celebrates his birthday. I did not ask him that. When I was a kid (even now, to a great extent) birthdays were a big thing, It was a very big deal for me. I used to look forward to my birthdays every year. The fact that it used to come in the same month of Diwali was a double treat since Diwali's a favourite festival. Oh well, I am digressing now. But the point is, I felt bad wondering about this child who doesn't even know his birthday. Also, the government boys home has parents of kids coming and meeting other kids. I wonder how lonely he would feel. Despite knowing that he has a brother, he doesn't know where he is. So much helplessness....
When he first came to Bangalore, the police officials had admitted him at Makkala Ashraya Kendra. However, he used to often run away from Makkala Ashraya Kendra (MAK) where he initially lived. However, he maintains that MAK is his favourite place. I was puzzled. I asked him why did he run away from the place often if he liked the place so much. He remained silent for a while. I again asked him. He paused and then replied, "I used to go out in search of my brother." I can't forget the look on his face then. To say that I felt bad would be an understatement. I just wanted to hug him tight and tell him that things would be alright.
While I was taking down some numbers of officials of MAK, Men came and silently stood next to me. I asked him what happened. "I wanted the number of the MAK official." I asked him, "What do you plan to do with the number?" He said, "I want to call them to ask them to take me back." I did not what tot ell him. I just gave him the number. He was so happy. It was as if he had got a big bar of chocolate that has been denied to a kid for a long time. According to the Child Welfare Committee officials, MAK is not very keen to take him back because of his vagabond ways. CWC has issued summons to MAK. Lets see what happens.
Currently, the boy shouldn't technically be in the government boys home because they house kids only from Bangalore (urban district) per se. They are trying hard to put him back in Makkala Ashraya Kendra. But, even then, that's not his real home. Worse, he ain't even a bonafide citizen of this country. Worse, the government does not have any policy to deal with such kids. ARGH!!!!
I really hope they are able to track his brother soon. I think his brother is extremely lucky. His younger brother surely loves him very much.
PS: I will surely rotate the pic properly very soon.