Ritu, Usha and Sanguita

Ritu has trouble speaking English, but she manages to communicate when it’s really necessary. While she walks, she drags her hands and back along the walls, humming. When her brothers and sister of heart are still at school, Ritu likes to play alone and make small piles of dirt, while talking to herself. She helps Seema (her borrowed auntie) washing clothes at the well and she’s always read for any task. When, finally, everyone returns from school, she easily joins the plays and she doesn’t let anyone be unfair to her. She’s quite emotive and sensitive. If she looses, she becomes sad. If she wins, she jumps of happiness.

Ritu spent approximately three hours with me trying to write a word in English: quadrilateral. The curious thing aren’t the letters or the words themselves, but her concentration and memory. Ritu likes to laugh a lot, she drives everything to a joking mood, but when it’s time to work she has some difficulties on focusing on what she’s doing. Long were the pages where she wrote “quadrilateral”, line after line. Always with an eye on the word at the top, of course. When the time came to do it by herself, that was the problem. Maybe I also had my share of guilt, for going along with her jokes or for letting myself carry away with her contagious laughter.

Usha is extremely independent, always with her head up and an example to the rest of her sisters. She does everything her own way, rarely joins any sillinesses and, when she raises her voice, all her siblings follow her words. When, without anyone noticing, she and the rest of the folks attack the television, it’s her job to switch to the Bollywood movies channel. When they’re up to steal some seeds in the middle of the afternoon, it’s her who leads them. Yes, seeds and water inside a cup of water, their perfect snack to watch Bollywood.

Sanguita is probably the child I had the most trouble approaching. Behind her adult face there’s a very sensitive girl with desire to play. I was always under her sight, I mean, she tried not to interact with me during play time, but she stood around, always throwing a glance. If I looked at her, she would quickly turn her sight around. Whenever I invited her to play, she’d make up an excuse not to. Sanguita was either intrigued with my presence or she had a crush. I’m sorry for not being able to reach to her as I should have, otherwise I’d have avoided what was a see of incomprehension to her. When my journey came to an end and I went to say goodbye to everybody, she closed herself in the room. I knocked the door, entered, and I saw her eyes covered with tears, sitting on her bed and browsing a school book. I asked her what was wrong and she yelled. She told me to leave. I didn’t even know what to say or how to confront her. It’s a different culture, a different and complicated childhood, and until then it was very difficult for me to help them in most delicate situations, since they were all used to stand up from their own feet, not accepting help from anyone not even if their blood and tear trails lasted long. I’m sorry for that, for not being ready to deal with such a situation. All I had left to do was what any human being would. When I was already going away from the orphanage by motorcycle, I saw her looking over the wall. I felt like I was inside a movie. I felt like I’d never see my little sister again.