The mascot of the Golden Grove

Last Updated 30 December 2010, 13:06 IST
The mascot of the Golden Grove

"It is not my fault that I am an Albino.It is entirely yours and papa's.You transferred mutated genes into me.I am now with out any Melanin in my skin.My hair, eyebrows, even my eyeballs are pure white, thanks to you.Yet you act as if you are Christ and I am your cross"-I screamed at my mother in utter disgust.

"The result of sending you to a missionary school.' muttered mother under her breath.

"Don't blame the nuns.they are real gems.You stop treating me like a second class citizen in my own home.Treat me on par with that beautiful older daughter of yours"

"Girl,you are jealous of me." preened my elder sister Suneetha.Such spats always made me cry.I rushed out of the kitchen into the garden blinded by my tears.

An Albino crow is a good omen.White mice are cute.Maharajahs have bred white tigers. Most Indian men want fair complexioned brides.Only I am a CURSE. I totally disliked my mother.

A warm hand fell on my shoulders.Jitin bhayya's soft voice spoke,"Stop crying,Roshini your mother is an illiterate, ignorant, woman from a small hamlet in Rajasthan.We have to educate her."

He was many years my senior but the only one who cared for me in a household full of selfish people.I live in a joint family of more than twenty members.The men in our family including my father are never around when we need them.They are always "AWAY" on business.Women and children are for bidden  entry into any of the family owned shops. The reason maybe-The men don't want family members to know the amount of time wasted talking to friends over endless cups of "by two chai's "in their shops!

Father's preoccupation with his business has led to my complete medical neglect.No expert advice on management of my abnormality.No creams.No sun lotions.No dark glasses.No smart caps.

My Myopic eyes  are refused  proper prescription spectacles.Mother has never tried to dye my hair or even crop it short.It is only Jitin's support that has stopped me from running away to an orphanage.He is studying to be a doctor.

"Roshini.just you wait.I am going abroad.My research will be to identify DNA patterns that cause your problem.God willing I will find a way to reverse it, so that melanin is produced in Albinos.You will then look just like me.NO additional risk of skin cancer too.As soon as I start earning,you'll have the best of sun protection creams and the best reading lens available.""concentrate on your studies.Make friends in school,at least try." said bhayya.
My school mates, like my family find it difficult to accept me as one of them."White cockroach,plucked chicken,paleini "are nicknames called behind my back.Some even think of me as ghost/devil/witch thanks to Harry Potter stories.

My head mistress Sr. Attracta is  a mother THERESA.She excuses me from all out door activities involving direct exposure to sun.She has provided me a special place close to the black board.I however remain an average student.The reason is, the constant discomfort caused by my condition.

Strangely enough I enjoy SUPW(SOCIALLY USEFUL AND PRODUCTIVE WORK) sessions in the garden.The cool breeze soothes my skin and my nerves.The plants that I plant and care for grow because of my green fingers.They care two hoots about my skin condition.My best friend in the entire school is the gardener Chama.

This old Malli talks to me and the plants in a tone as calm as big B's in KBC.Jitin moved to England as planned.We kept in touch through Emails and skype.Then came the blackest day in my life with news that Jitin bhayya had died in a road accident.I felt orphaned,lonely and lost.

I had to keep bhayya's memory alive for my own well being.I remembered about Israel and its memory groves for its dead soldiers.Why not maintain a living,growing memorial for loved ones here also.Sr Attracta liked my idea.She allotted a small patch of low lying area near the playground.All SUPW periods were spent preparing the soil to receive the trees.The forest department promised to give saplings for free.The local newspaper carried an article on the school’s idea of growing a tree in memory of a loved one.
The bishop planted a pine in memory of JITIN.I wrote a small piece on bhayya and why I had to do this for him.A donation box was opened for the up keep of the trees.Soon the idea caught on,the response so overwhelming, that the grove had to be managed professionally.Even in death bhayya had helped to build my self esteem I AM A MASCOT of the grove, not a CURSE.

(Published 30 December 2010, 13:01 IST)

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