The fleet of vehicles stood in front of a huge black gate, with a sign board “Kasturba Gandhi Memorial Trust”.
The gates opened with a creeking sound, letting the vehicles in.The team of Ladies Club members, along with their President, all geared up with gifts for the members of the house (kids, girls and ladies) went and sat in the alloted area meant for them.
Curious faces started peeping as they started assembling in the ground, as per the instruction of their warden.The warden informed that some very small kids, some mentally challenged and sick girls are inside the dormitory, rest are here to meet you all.
Like any other normal kids, they sang, danced and recited beautiful poems, who would guess that they are orphaned, abondoned, unloved or unwanted. And when the President of the Club announced that they are going to construct a play area with swings, seasaw and all fancy play stuff, those nonstop claps, that excitement and those ravishing smiles, were so genuine.
Sayali, the secretary of the club, in between the gift and snacks distribution, was observing so many things. She somehow could see the deep hollowness, that haunted look of the function hall, after the function is over, in their eyes.They all walked with the warden and their nurses to the dormitory, to meet rest of the members.
At the end of the hall, they could see a small girl, hardly 13 or14 years old, arranging her bed. She turned to look at them. She was wearing a yellow frock. Sayali could see a very innocent face, very vivid. “Oh she looks like a sunflower,” thought Sayali.
As she fully turned, nearly all the ladies exclaimed, oh her stomach, looks like some kidney problem. Sayali nearly screamed, “Dammit… she is pregnant.”
The warden nodded and said, ” We got her from Hyderabad Railway Station, that time she was 3 months pregnant, she wouldn’t tell much, but you can talk with her.”
Sayali asked, “what is your name?”
She simply stared.
Warden said, ” Tell your name beta, tell about you.”
She softly said, “Jhorna”.
All repeated “Jhorna”.
” Where did you live?”
” In Medinipur,” Jhorna replied.
“But Medinipur is in West Bengal, how you came to Hyderabad?”
Jhorna painfully said, “I went to the field with our 14 sheeps and when I came back, there were only 13. My father scolded me, and told to search for the sheep. But there in dusk, some people took me with them. After that I don’t remember anything.”
Sayali was instantly impressed by this little girl. She thought, what a girl, in such distress, in such pain also, she has that diginity, that self respect to know, how much to conceal and how much to reveal. She is not counting on sympathy . From where did this 13 year old girl got so much of courage to stand for herself.
On the other hand Sayali was very angry, angry with God, angry with those inhuman devils. If she had power, she would hang those devils in mid of the town, so that all can see the consequences. She wanted to crush them under bull dozer. She wanted to throw them from the highest tower. Sayali started feeling sick, she could feel hundreds of insects crawling on her.
They came out with a very heavy heart from the Trust, asking the warden to keep them informed about Jhorna. The whole way back , no one talked.
At home too, Jhorna was always in her subconscious mind. Nearly after a month, the warden informed that Jhorna was blessed with a son and as per the preplan, the child was adopted by a childless couple. But now she was broken, wanted the child back.
Sayali and her friends went to meet her the next day. She was wearing the same yellow frock. “Oh my sunflower”, Sayali mummered.
It looked as if she has cried the whole night. She started crying again after seeing them all. “I want the child back. They took him away”, she went on repeating.
Sayali gathered her courage and said, ” Which child? He was not your child.”
Jhorna screamed,” He was my child, I want him back.”
Sayali could see a child converting into mother. So much love for him, oh God, why are mothers so loving and caring. Help this girl, help this child to come out of this trauma.
Sayali firmly said,” He was not your child, he was God’s child. God wants him to go to a good place, He wants him to grow in a good family, He wants him to be an educated man. And for you God wants you to study and to be a strong girl. Promise me Jhorna, now you will study, now you will become so strong that no one can ever dare to look at you. Become a fire Jhorna, burn the evils, lit the pious fire in you.”
Jhorna stopped crying but didn’t reply anything. She sat like a statue.
Month went on like this. Syali was happy to know that Jhorna had started her studies again. In the meanwhile, Sayali’s husband got transferred and they shifted to a new city. Seven years passed like these.
Jhorna had completed her B.ed. and was teaching in Anganbadi. Sayali made a sudden trip to Hyderabad and met all her friends and decided to meet Jhorna.The whole way they went on talking about how she must be looking now. As she would never recognise them, they also planned to not reveal their identity.
In Anganbadi they met the Principal and said that they wanted to meet Jhorna. They waited and saw a lady coming in white sari with blue border. OMG she had changed a lot , but her eyes, they carried the same self confidence. Jhorna politely asked,” You wanted to meet me Ma’am”. Sayali stammered and said, ” It was just a routine encounter with the teachers, nice meeting you.” And they turned back and started to go just when Jhorna says, ” I remember you all Ma’am.” They stopped and turned back in astonishment. She continued, “See your Jhorna has changed now. The fire in me has burnt away the pain in me, now I am very happy with the children here. ”
Sayali hugged her and said in a low voice, as if speaking to herself, “My sunflower … has bloomed.” Happy tears rolled on unnoticed.