Thursday, June 07, 2007

When A Child Is Abandoned

I read about a four year old boy called Om, in the Bombay papers this morning. He had been found abandoned at a railway station in the city. The report is accompanied by this picture of a really cute kid with big rather sad looking eyes and behind him you see the social worker who found him at the station. He had been sitting next to a suitcase containing his clothes, some toys, a pair of shoes and a watch.

Anu Khan was on her routine visit to the central station where she interacts with juvenile ragpickers and beggars, when she saw Om sitting alone. An hour later when she passed that way again he was still there and talking to him she discovered that his mother had left him there saying she was going to get tea but she never came back.

The kid has apparently been abused because the police who took him in and sent him to an orphanage discovered a burn mark on his arm, left by a hot press. He admitted that his mother was bad tempered and had hit him badly on the train for crying.

It isn't only in India that children are abused or abandoned. I still remember the report I read in Time magazine years ago, about a four year old girl abandoned by her mother and the mother's boy friend on a highway somewhere, who was later spotted by the police. I guess it must be happening all the time, all over the world.

As far as I'm concerned it's the ultimate nightmare and I can't even begin to understand how this can happen - how parents can abandon such small kids without batting an eye. What happens to those kids? Are they ever able to trust any human being again? Why do we let each other down so badly at times?

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