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Branded For Life

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This story is about a little eight year old girl named Asha. She had an elder brother Sonu who was ten years of age. Her father Joseph would seek any menial hard work that he could get his hands on to provide daily bread for his family. Asha?s mother also was a hard working domestic maid servant, who would go house to house and work. They were a very happy family. Very pious too. Both of Asha?s parents would work hard from dawn to dusk only to be able to give their children the little joys of life that any child would dream of.

Asha’s mother Christine got an opportunity to work as a maid servant in a foreign country. She was being offered a better salary than what she was getting in India. But it broke her heart to leave her two small children aged four and six years then and seek work so far away in a foreign land. Christine was in a dilemma as to what should she choose the little more money to give her children a better life or continue to work in India and deprive her kids of a better life?

Many of us are faced with the same situation so many times. And in most matters our hearts rule our minds.

In Christine?s case it was different. She decided to let her mind rule her heart for once. After all she wanted to give the best to her children. Christine left for Gulf to make a better living for her self and above all to give a better life to her two children. She wanted her children to be educated, to be able to read and write, to understand all that was happening around them. Being illiterate herself, Christine knew what it felt like being pushed around and taken advantage off by the educated and elite people of the society.

Christine?s husband was very supportive towards her decision. Her son too was very supportive though he was only 6 years of age. But for Asha who was only a 4 year old child did not want her mother to go. For Asha her mother meant the world to her. How could she then live without her? She cried her way to sleep the night her mother left for the Gulf.

On the other side of the world, Christine aboard a plane crying her heart out. She kept pacifying herself that she was doing this only to give her children a better life. She prayed to God to give her the strength and let time pass by so that she could be with her children again.

Time did fly by. It was 4 years since Christine left her family back home in India and came to the Gulf. She was due for her annual vacation and was all anxious and excited to meet her husband and her children. Christine had tears of joy in her eyes as she was taking home with her so many goodies for her children and she was daydreaming of her children running towards her and holding her close to their heart.

Christine had a pleasant journey and was waiting at the airport when she spotted her husband and her son who had come to receive her at the Bombay airport. She ran towards them, hugged them and carried her son in her arms. Christine then realized that her daughter Asha had not accompanied them. She enquired of this with her husband who told her that Asha did not come because she did not want to come. Christine was quite taken aback with this answer. She was hoping that her daughter who loved her so much would come to receive her. Nevertheless, Christine said she was looking forward to meeting her at home.

Why did Ma have to go so far away from us? Even if we had plain rice and water to eat, I would happily eat it…

On entering her home in Mangalore, Christine goes looking for her girl who is sick. But Asha is not at home. Christine is quite disappointed and enquires with her in-laws why is Asha not at home. Asha returns back home, sees her mother standing in the door way of the house and walks past her. Christine is shocked. She goes to Asha and says “Darling, look, it?s your Mother. Aren?t you happy to see me?” Asha retorts back: “Oh! Are you? So now did you realize that you have children in India? Where were you for the past years? You left me and went to a foreign country.” Christine was stunned. She just did not have words to answer her eight-year-old girl. Tears in her eyes, she tried her best to explain to the child. But Asha had made up her mind. She just refused to reason out with her mother and did not speak to her the whole day.

The next day Christine went to Asha and tried to lure her with the goodies she had bought for her children, yet to no avail. Christine then spoke to her husband and he told her all that had happened to Asha in her absence.

After Christine left for the Gulf, Asha developed a kind of hatred for her mother. She despised her mother for going to the Gulf. Asha kept telling her father: ?Why did Ma have to go so far away from us? Even if we had plain rice and water to eat, I would happily eat it. Did she have to leave us and go only to give us a better life? Why? Why? Why??

As Asha was growing older, she even got new friends in her life. She started staying away from her home more often than before. She developed bad habits. She would threaten her father with dire consequences had he to correct her if she did something wrong. She went to the extent of pick pocketing small amounts of change from her father?s pocket. Joseph, just did not know what to do with the girl. It was at such times that he missed Christine so much. While attempting to rob money from her uncle?s pocket, Asha was caught red-handed. She was beaten up black and blue.

Everyone in the locality thought that they had taught Asha a good lesson. No one realized what was going on in the mind of this 8-year-old. Asha blamed her mother for what ever she had become today. To make matters worse Asha was nick-named ?Thief? by everyone in the neighbourhood. Everyone would taunt her and tease her and call her names. She was branded a thief for life!

Who was to blame for Asha?s wrongdoing? How are we as parents to correct the wrong phases that our children go through in life? Was Christine to blame for leaving her kids at such a young age? Was Joseph to be blamed for not being a good father and taking care of the child? Or are we supposed to just leave all these questions unanswered? Do you have the answer?

Author: Ramona Pereira- UAE

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