A cold heart, a numb body, a smashed hope is what Nitu (name changed) had for more than two days, when I told her that she might not be able to go back home for another one year... Day 1...
Nitu came to Mekhi’s home when she was two months pregnant. The day she entered, she was filled with fear of entering into the unknown. She came along with four others, who were under crisis pregnancy too. With time, she started understanding us and we her. Juna, the women’s caretaker at Mekhi’s, loved her the way she loved the other girls. Nitu was nothing more than a kid. She would hardly help with the household chores, unlike the other girls. Most of the time, she would like talking and playing games with the others. Time moved on and the girls that came along with her slowly were released based on their cases. Nitu got a shock when the last one from the lot went home with her baby. She didn’t know what was happening. Her case didn’t seem very difficult but she still couldn’t go. By now, she delivered her baby. Surya, born on the 7th month, was a very frail baby boy. Looking at him, Nitu was struck with wonder and fear at the same time.
Day 304 and counting... During those times, I would just visit the girls once in two weeks. And then soon we all entered the zone of Covid 19. Things became extremely difficult after that, we had to stop their skill development programs and it became difficult for me or the counsellor to go for counselling. Though Juna was with them always, yet it was difficult for Nitu to stay alone with her baby, knowing that it might take longer for her to go out. She still had her hopes and that’s when we moved to the new Mekhi’s home. This place was bigger and had quite a lot of space outside to move around. By now, it was already 10 months and her baby was 3 months old.
Slowly, other girls started getting admitted at Mekhi’s. Nitu felt superior and was now ready to take charge of some responsibilities at the home. As we moved in as well at Mekhi’s, the girls felt happy, since they would be able to interact with a few more, apart from the home caretakers. Soon, we started working with the CWC on her case and tried getting all the documents set for her release procedures. Her case was not too complicated yet because she was a minor CWC couldn’t have done anything to send her to her in-laws. We, somehow, made enough provisions for her case to be considered again after two months, but everything was in vain. A small ray of hope appeared, when some of the CWC members said, based on a particular case they would try to get her release orders done. Nitu’s hopes started building up again, but to her dismay, this time her husband refused to come and take her. He had his own reasons but Nitu started developing a sense of rejection. After three weeks, we tried again, but things didn’t turn out well.
Day 425 and counting... Time kept moving forward and now it was more than a year for Nitu at Mekhi’s. Surya was 10 months old and Nitu couldn’t but stop thinking about his future. She asked us time and again about the way Surya would react when he met his father. By now, Nitu lost all her hopes and was making her mind up to raise Surya alone for another one year. I remember my conversation with her, when I told her that for now, she might have to stay longer. She told me, “Didi, now I feel nothing....my heart has gone cold and my body numb to any pain”. Nitu behaved normal in front of others, but we could see her getting detached from baby and others. It was really sad to see her state and all we could do was to build her up.
Another week passed, it was my turn again to share. But this time, as I was about to speak, I got a call from her husband saying that he has left home and is coming to get Nitu. I told him, it was too late and that I cannot let her go since CWC would not agree anymore. Anyways after talking to him, I went ahead and called the Child Welfare Committee, and they said, they would try to let her go! I kept the phone and told Nitu. While the other girls started rejoicing at this, Nitu stood still and was about to faint. The whole day she couldn’t eat because she wasn’t able to conceive what had happened. Her husband came, we did the necessary formalities and sent Nitu and her baby home. It was now that she was filled with an overwhelming joy.
Today things around us are unimaginable. Deaths everywhere, hopes smashed and time just doesn’t make sense anymore. But one thing that stands true, there is still hope.
Written by Blessy Sam with JP since 2013