Monday, June 22, 2009

Cursed childhood

As I descended from the rickety bus, I cursed the Punjab roadways drivers for rash driving. Cursing all the way, I boarded an auto rickshaw, only to be caught in milieu of crowd.

Looking for help, I spotted a traffic police guy busy talking on his mobile phone, and cursed him for not navigating the crowd at crossing. Cursing all the way I reached home to “discover” yet another power cut and under my breath I swore in name of God and almost abused the bijli wallahs.

The task ahead was to look for a “decent” crèche, in suburb of Chandigarh metro, for my 18 months old son. With the little one in tow, under blazing son, my husband and I left for the crèche hunting on our scooter. Again a cursed left my mouth cursing our income, which did not enable us to buy a car.

Taking a bumpy ride across the city, we zeroed in on the only crèche in area. As soon as I entered the place, around three children sat squatting under sun at 1 noon – obviously playing lost in their own world. At the farther corner of verandah stood two plastic canisters with water for drinking and water for washing hands written on them in Punjabi, despite the fact that content of both canisters seem to be same.

The owner or crèche, a lady in her mid thirties, with unkempt hair and crumpled clothes came to greet us. As we took seats, I again cursed, this time myself for being helpless to leave my child in day care.

Before we can question the day care owner, she started rattling off the “facilities” provided in her two rooms house that double up as crèche for six children from 2 to 6 years of age. Even before she could complete, a charming two years old child came running to her, called her mummy and hid him in her lap.

She kissed the child, ran her fingers through his hair untying his little jooda. “Its bath time for him. He was five months old when his mother left the family. Father is drunkard. Grandparents brought him up and grandma died around six months ago. Its his dadu alone who is bringing him up,” she said.
The child – Bunny – came to this crèche three months ago. For the first month, he interacted with no body. Laid down on the sofa with his little hands crossed behind his head and left quietly in evening with his dadu. Change set in during second month. And now he considers crèche his home and crèche wali aunty his mother.

When innocent Bunny feels sleepy, his “mummy” lies beside him with a bottle of milk and child finds solace in her arms. The otherwise fun-filled Sundays are most traumatic for Bunny – because he is unable to meet his crèche mummy. Dadu says he has no more energy left to bring up the child. And if he leaves Bunny in care of his father, the alcoholic tries to strangulate child.

Tears rolled down my eyes and I looked towards my husband, who was engrossed deep in some thought. We got up silently, kissed Bunny and came back.

I have stopped cursing. For a while. At least my child has both his parents and a loving childhood.