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Nobody's Child - Concluding Part

TerritorialMale • • • Friday, February 10, 2006

Sending SK to a hostel probably was the best thing that happened to her - and it was also one of the few plans that went well. Contrary to ghastly tales about hostels, this hostel was exactly what it purported to be - a home away from home. The children were treated well and without bias. They were praised where it was needed and reprimanded where it was due.

SK settled down to a cheerful hostel-life. Unlike her mates, for her, it was all fun and games. Her friends on the other hand, detested the routine regimen they had to follow. SK was different. She had finally found a family. She even called her guardians 'mother' and 'father'.

Seven years went by. SK grew up as a daughter of the family into a charming girl. She had led a pretty sheltered life and apart from some occasional scolding, much of her academic career so far had gone without any untoward incidents. Her parents, in the mean time, had migrated to Hong Kong. They visited her only once a year but she wasn't troubled much about that. She had spent all these years with this family - even the holidays because her grand-mother wasn't to keen on having her and her aunt was too far away.

Our's is a primary school, so it was finally time for SK to hunt for another school to complete her schooling. Though not an exceptional pupil, she managed to graduate from our school with good marks. She was granted a seat in a prestigious private school. Her parents were willing and able to afford such an expensive school. So once again, it was time for her to move on. Another school. Another hostel. We were glad for her and in a way proud of our achievements with her.

I quit teaching the following year and left for New Delhi.

I was home on a short summer break last year. Familiar faces, much needed respite from the hellish heat and home brought some joy. People were full of news. I soaked it all in with relish. Actually, all but one. It was somewhat sensational but I found it very disturbing and I wished I hadn't heard it. Our girl hadn't been able to handle the more liberal disciplining of High School. She had stepped out of line somewhere... somehow. She had become a drug addict and was made to quit school. She had occasionally resorted to stealing to sustain her addiction and had even been caught red-handed with the loot one day. Her fellow boarders had thrashed her that day and had snipped her long hair and pinned it to the dormitory door to make her humiliation complete. There were rumours that she was also having sexual encounters with some men. Something which was narrated rather graphically to me. But I'll omit the sleazy bits here because it is afterall, apocryphal. Her parents had been hurriedly summoned by the school principal all the way from Hong Kong, to hear an account of their daughter's escapades and of her release.

Her present whereabouts are unknown. She was hurriedly and secretly escorted out of the town one day. News travels pretty fast in this lazy town, you see. And anything is worthy of broadcast here. It is certainly better that no one knows where she is. Neither the milkman, the postman, Capt. L, nor I. Wherever she may be, I wish her well but I sometimes stop and wonder. Did we go wrong somewhere?

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