The darkness and the downpour were competing, as if to see who was creating more trouble to the poor dwellers of that run down village. The rains were definitely heavy, but heavier than that was the bundle she was carrying. Muttering a few cuss words when her big toe stubbed against a big rock lying along the road, she continued to heave the bundle and carry on, with her path illuminated only by the purpose in her mind. When she was awaiting the bundle, she expected nothing but joy from it, never even dreaming that one day she would part with it.
The lorry driven by a highly inebriated sardar had claimed all of her husbandâ€™s family and their impoverished shed they called home. She was strangely saved without even a scratch on her and now she was left to fend for herself and her little bundle that was supposed to be joyous. Not that she particularly loved any of them, but it was better when they were around. Loneliness and poverty did not seem so loud back then, and there was no way she could care for her little one all by herself. Finding a meal a day for a woman who refused to sell her body for food or money was tough as it is, she definitely did not want to rear her child to be another frail being living off the scraps of the better off. In those rare moments when she conversed with her Maker, she had always asked one question, were dreams only meant for the rich?
Squinting and struggling against the almost absent light from the halogen street lamp, she made sure she was going the right way. Just a few more moments and she would be there, but was she ready? How could a woman ever be ready to abandon her child just like that? Thoughts were aplenty going on in her mind, but the only comfort she had was that she was not leaving her child in the dustbin or on the road for beggars and dogs. This was a place she had heard about, children would be well looked after and if her child was lucky he would be adopted into a rich childless couple, and he would never have to slog through her life.
Then she saw the board, â€˜Ammathottilâ€™ and the welcoming sight of a comfortable cradle cushioned with soft down and protected by high steel barriers. There was no bigger comfort she could offer her son in his life. With a prayer that he would understand the reasons why his mother was leaving him there, she turned around, wiping away the single tear that fell and consoling herself that it was for his own good, she left, unseen, unheard and unknown.
The next morning at the Ammathottil would be a busy one, with a new child to be taken care of, with a few curses uttered for the heartless mother who abandoned such a sweet little baby boy.
Ammathottil (also called Amma Thottil in Malayalam, meaning Child Cradle) is an initiative brought up by the Kerala State Government under The Kerala State Council for Child Welfare. Ammathottil provides care and services for abandoned children.
Image Courtesy: Roobo69