Lovely Leela

by admin on Mar 01, 2022

Dear Friends,

You have heard of orphans, abandoned, child labor and other adjectives of underprivileged children. Besides these, there are some whom I address as “Trapped Children”. They live with their parents on the streets or slums. These children want to study and change their lives for a better future but their parents don’t allow them to do so. They are forced into begging, rag picking, child labor or selling tobacco, cigarettes illegally. They are trapped in the web of ‘family’. They live in an illusion that their parents are the best person to protect them and think about their welfare. Sadly, it is not the truth. The parents are well aware that they are pushing the child to delinquency.

I met one such girl, Leela, at the railway station in Feb 2005.

She was six-years-old and was keen to study but her father didn’t allow her. She had zero memory of her mother and her father was an alcoholic. He often leaves her on the railway platform by herself and when he returns after few days, he takes all her saving. she used to sleep on the railway platform with other orphan and abandoned children.
As usual, her father left her again at the railway station. Leela came to our city home with other children. The city home is only for boys so I put her into our village home. She was so happy and was showing a lot of interest in studying. Two weeks passed by. There was a tremendous transformation in that short time. But the joy didn’t last long. Her father came looking for her at our home. He was very angry that I had sent her to our village home. He demanded I bring her back. I refused because there is no future on the street for a child. Girls are not safe and often they are pushed in the flesh trade.
He went to the police station. I was instructed by the police officers to hand over the child as soon as possible. Otherwise, a case of child trafficking would be lodged against me. When Leela heard that her father is back and she has to leave our home, back to hell again, she cried a lot. I had no choice but to hand over her to the father. I had no clue how could I help this little soul. This was the first case for me to deal with the police. The only option left was to console her, giving her fake hope.

When she saw her father at our city home, she cried loudly.

She was trembling in fear. She held my hand tightly and refused to go. My heart ached. I spoke to her father, tried to counsel him to allow Leela to stay with us and to continue her education. He stared at me and at a stroke, he pulled Leela from my hand. He dragged her to the railway station. I could hear her crying. Her cry echoed into my being for the whole week. I felt miserable not being able to help a girl child.
About a month time, Leela showed up at our city center again. She told us that her father had left her for more than two weeks at Muzaffarpur station, which is about 200 km from Gorakhpur. I went to the police station and update them about Leela’s situation. The police allowed me to send her to the village home but with the condition that if her father comes, I have to send her back.
Leela started staying with us happily.  After a week I was shocked to learn that her father died of some illness. It was important to convey this sensitive message to her. It was tough news for a child who lost her mother at an early age and now she will be labeled as an orphan after losing her father. I was well prepared. When I broke the news to her, to my surprise there was no trace of sadness or regret on her face. In fact, I could see a subtle relief on her face. I cannot judge her or blame her for her reaction. All she held was perhaps bad memories of a father that failed her.
“He had some problem in his kidney” is all that she could say. From that day Leela never ever talked about her father.
Fast forward seventeen years and little Leela has now grown up under our care and love. She flourished! She completed a degree in optometry in December 2021. Leela was selected by a reputed optical company in India and got a job before she left her college.

Can anyone measure the joy I experienced
when she broke the news to me about her employment?
Of course not!

Upon reflection, it gives me something more than words can express. I remember the day vividly when her father snatched her from my hands, he was dragging her to the railway station. I felt so distraught and so discouraged over the situation, a situation that turned gently into a favorable outcome for Leela!
Today, I feel so empowered by her success and her happiness. All the melancholy is washed away with a bright light of love and hope.
Thank you Universe for giving me the opportunity, for the magical experience and everlasting Joy!
Shantaram March 1, 2022 at 7:36 AM

Beautiful story once again Ravi. What amazing work you do. You are inspirational!
I just made a PayPal donation via your website here, i n celebration of Leela’s victory against all odds…
Perhaps others will join me?
- Ron C

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