Nov 21, 05
We had called ahead to tell Mrs. Prema that we would be sponsoring dinner on that night. It was raining quite heavily that night and we had drive slowly through those small village roads to get to Anbagam. We reached Anbagam around 7:30pm. As soon as the car reached the home, one of kids came out to see the car. Mrs. Prema came out to greet us and she invited us in. My first thought on entering the house was about the size of the house. It was small! I couldn't believe there were 28 people living there! The kids were sitting on plastic mats, studying.
The kids didn’t seem particularly enthusiastic. They all sort of mechanically greeted us. I am not sure if we were too late and perhaps they were hungry. Or perhaps it was just us. I suppose its not a pleasant experience to have to greet strangers who come there acting like they are gods granting boons to insignificant creatures. Or maybe it was just that they were being like any normal kid who took sometime to be themselves in front of strangers.
The main house, consisted of just two rooms. The photograph above shows the first room. At the end of the room was the kitchen, which was artificially separated from the main room by a white curtain. As I looked around the house, I did notice that there were pictures of gods of all religeons, mostly from calendars. There was picture of Ganesha, Saraswathi, Velankani Mary and also a picture of a mosque. You don’t see too many households like that.
I tried to make small talk with the small little girl sitting in the front. She told me her name is Raja Rajeshwari and that she was 6 years old. I didn’t hear her name properly and I asked her to repeat it. She wrote it on her slate and showed it to me. When I asked Mrs. Prema about her, she told me that Raja Rajeshwari’s mom had run away from home and her father decided he couldn’t take the responsibility to take care of kid and he left her at the shelter. I guess from Mrs. Prema’s tone the Raja Rajeshwari figured out that she was complaining about her father. She immediately came to his defence saying ‘Enga appa nalavaru. Enga amma thaan oodi-poyitanga’ (My dad is a good guy. Its only my mom who ran away). I can’t imagine what must be going through this childs mind.
While we were talking, the rest of the kids were curiously looking at my digital camera. However, this young kid who was sitting right in front, who looked youngest of the lot didn’t seem at all interested. Mrs. Prema told me that his name is Kumar and he was sick. Its then I noticed that the floor was actually damp and cold due to the rain. No wonder the kids fall sick in this weather.
Kumar is three and half years old and also comes from a broken family. I didn’t have the heart ask about his family to Mrs. Prema. Somehow I was starting feel really guilty. I didn’t want to hear any more stories. I suppose its easier not to know. I quickly said ‘Lets eat’, just to avoid talking about any other kids.
The eldest kid, Amaravathi, then cleared the room and spread the banana leaves around for the kids to eat. We started serving the food we got. We had gotten some vegetable biriyani, potato curry and curd-rice. The kids waited until we served everyone. They then said a line of prayer and started eating. As I started serving I realized that they all liked the biriyani more than the curd-rice and they were all asking for second and third servings. Unfortunately it ran out. I really felt bad telling them we don’t have any more left. Soon after even the potato curry got over. I guess our cook had underestimated the appetites of these kids.
Thankfully, we had sufficient curd-rice for everyone. Next time we should make sure we get a lot more than what we got this time.
After food, the kids seemed
more energetic. Perhaps it was just hunger that made them look
dull when we came in. The previous they must have had was
The eldest kid, Amaravathi seemed really bright. She is in 10th std now and she says she wants to be a doctor. My sister, Jayanthi, promised her that she , with the help of some friends will support her through her education.
The two hours I spent there went really fast. I didn’t realize how late was until I saw some of the younger kids yawning. I asked the kids to prepare for bed and then started to talk to Mrs. Prema. I promised her that I would do my best to find some sort of constant funding for Anbagam so that they don’t have struggle for day-today food. I also promised that I would try to created more awareness about the work she is doing. This is the main reason for creating this webpage. I sincerely hope atleast some of you who read this would come forward and donate something to Anbagam.
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