New Beginnings; Old Memories

Anyone who visits the new pre-schoolers is met with the same question, “When will my parents come to take me home?” followed by the earnest plea, “Please ask my mother and father to take me back.” With comforting words, residential caretakers calm down the bawling four year olds when they burst into a loud chorus of cries. They work with clever answers, false promises, and ultimately, tempting chocolates.

This afternoon, as I moved from cot to cot trying to cajole the newcomers into taking a nap, I couldn’t help reminiscing on my own early days at the school back in 1997.  My first night was quite an event. Instead of the cold dung-coated floor of my hut, I slept on a warm cot; my mother’s presence by my side was replaced by a soft stuffed doll. But the elevated height of the cot scared me and the pretty stuffed doll was an empty comfort. I cried myself to sleep that night.

But over time, like the other children in my class, thoughts of home grew less painful as my mind was taken over by the endless fun things and activities we had in school -- the variety of dishes and snacks we were served five times a day to be eaten with spoon and fork, learning to use crayons and pencils, collecting bird feathers during our long nature walks, learning to read and sing rhymes, and enjoying the hot showers we were given in the evening after play. 



It was exciting to speak in English which sounded fancy. I did not realize that I was gradually losing fluency in my mother tongue, Kannada. This still bothers me today. But during my first vacation from school, my family was relieved to see that I had completely forgotten the long list of local foul words I had picked up from them during their fights. They also noticed that a strange calmness had set into my otherwise wild, untamed spirit.

Now as I watch the staff work with the pre-schoolers, I understand how challenging it is to bring up young children and help them adjust to their strange surroundings. In turn, the children will learn to adopt this new way of living which is startlingly different to what they were used to back in their villages.

This community of people at Shanti Bhavan will slowly become their second family, and over time, they will love this place as their own just as I did. 

Comments

  1. You write beautifully. Do you know when "The elephant chasers daughter" will be available in the UK? I watched the documentary about Shanti Bhavan on Netflix. It was so inspiring. I hope your book is enormously successful xxx

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    1. Thank you so much. I'm very moved by your kind words.

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  2. You are a brave, strong, and beautiful soul. I watched the series "daughters of destiny" and am compelled by each story...All your tales resonate within each cell of my being and my heart loves you all. Thank you for being you; stay strong and don't forget to comfort yourself with the abundance of love god has granted each of us.

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  3. You are a brave, strong, and beautiful soul. I watched the series "daughters of destiny" and am compelled by each story...All your tales resonate within each cell of my being and my heart loves you all. Thank you for being you; stay strong and don't forget to comfort yourself with the abundance of love god has granted each of us.

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  4. Hello! My name is Rashidah; I've just watched the documentary on Netflix and am truly in awe of all that you have been able to accomplish! I would very much like to read your book but am having a difficult time finding it online. Could you direct me as to where I may find it?

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  5. I just watched your documentary. Thank you for sharing your life and letting me see a world different than my own. I was so impressed by the emotional strength of all the children in the series.

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  6. Hello! I live in the US and recently watched the Shanti Bhaven documentary on Netflix. I am overwhelmed by your story and strength. I look forward to reading your book when it is released internationally. Best wishes.

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  7. How/where can I buy your book if I live in the states?

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    1. Hi! The book will be hopefully available in the States by the end of September. Thank you for your interest.

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    2. Hi! My book is finally available on Amazon.com. Thank you for your interest.

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  8. I live in Canada and am looking to buy your book but it's not available here yet. Do you know when it will be available?

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    1. Hi Jennifer. Thank you for your interest. My book is now available on Amazon.com

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