I was watching a talk show in a Tamil channel and was impressed by what one of the speakers had to say. She was abandoned at a bus stand by her father at the age of 5. She is unable to recall her mother’s face but remembers the color of the sari she was wearing when her father took her to the bus stand following a quarrel with her mother, told her that he would be back soon but never returned. She was given food and shelter by a family who made her look after a sick person for ten long years but she was probably treated well because she still refers to them as amma and appa. She would call the son of the family anna and the grandfather as thatha. Though had to work for a living she has no bitter memories of the time spent with them.
When she turned 15, the lady of the house or ‘amma’ as she calls her, passed away. The father of the household sent her to work for some relative of theirs but she came back to him when she sensed the possibility of being sexually abused by two married sons in the family. Not knowing what to do with her, the master got her married to a 49 year old man who was probably a sick person because he passed away within 2 years of their marriage. She had a son by him. With no money and no one to support her, she took up the job of sweeping and cleaning the premises of a church when a kind hearted man married her and accepted her child as his own. She has a son by her second husband and her condition has now vastly improved. Her husband works in the Middle East and they have a house of their own. She just has one lingering desire. She wants her husband to help her seek out her parents particularly her mother. He has promised to do whatever he can to help her trace her birth mother.
“What purpose will it serve” asked the host of the show. She remembers her parents’ names but little else. She is perhaps in her mid twenties with dreams of a bright future for her sons. She has a caring husband and everything a girl of her age could ask for. Would it not be better to put her unhappy past behind and start a new life? Why would she want to rake up unpleasant memories of her past?
Her response brought tears to my eyes.
“I just want to know if my father deliberately abandoned me or if it was a case of unintentional negligence.”
She perhaps wants to confirm what she had believed all along – that her parents did not abandon her on purpose and she perhaps got ‘lost’.
“What if you find out that it was an act of willful abandonment?” asked the host.
“I would think that circumstances were such that they were forced to abandon me. No parent would deliberately leave a five year old daughter to fend for herself.”
I was full of admiration for this young woman. Anyone in her place would have been full of resentment for the father who left her stranded in a crowded bus stand. Anything could have happened to her were it not for the family who took her along. They did not educate her and made her do odd jobs. But they did not exploit her sexually or otherwise. She remembers that she had 3 sisters and a brother all older than her.
“Why me?” would be the question she ought to ask. But she has cherished warm feelings of affection and love for them instead of hatred. God bless you my child. How could your parents discard you without a thought? But then why should I think they abandoned her? It is perhaps human nature to be suspicious. Jessie, as the girl is now called, was unique not to think ill of them.
Children who complain that their parents did not provide them well enough should learn a lesson from the likes of Jessie. I do hope she is able to locate her parents and I pray that she is right in her assessment about them.