Some news reports make you feel ashamed and guilty, wrench at your heart. And leave you wondering how any of this is going to change. From where do we begin.
A 12-year-old child committed suicide in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh because she was disappointed and heartbroken that her parents did not buy her a pair of silver anklets that she so deeply desired.
Anusha had wanted to dress up as Mother India for Republic Day celebrations at her school. She asked her father for a new dress, a lehenga and half saree, and a pair of silver anklets to go with it. The father, Gogurat Lachchu, a cotton farmer who worked as labourer along with her mother round the year to feed his family, told her he couldn’t afford to buy her the dress and anklets as of now. The mother, not wanting to disappoint the child, bought her daughter bangles and a pair of slippers. After the parents left for work, the child bolted the door of their house from the inside and hanged to death.
A child who had ironically wanted to be Mother India but ended up killing herself. Is this what we are promising young India? That in this society, if you belong to the most vulnerable and deprived sections, you don’t have a right to dream. You must give up on your right to demand and enjoy even small joys. Opportunity is not yours for the taking.
Anusha’s teachers say she was easily one of the most brilliant students in the school. Always first in class, she was also very good at sport. She had only recently won three medals in kabbadi and carrom just the other day. They say she was a well-behaved, well-adjusted child who was the pride of the school. How come such a child did something as shocking as this, was the question everyone was asking.
In the urban, more well-off world, parents are often told, don’t buy everything your child asks for. Don’t give in to every whim and demand. He or she is unable to take rejection, a `no’, or a failure and fails to develop the coping skills.
I would have thought Anusha, even at her young age, would have seen enough deprivation not to give up because she could not have a pair of silver anklets. Must be so heartbreaking for her parents to think, that they couldn’t fulfil a small desire of their child, and lost the child forever. I can’t help feeling the sadness and pain as a parent myself. There is a even a streak of anger for what the young girl chose to do. May be she was forced to realise and accept realities that the child in her did not want to confront and live with.
So easy to blame it on poverty, rural distress, agricultural crisis and a host of reasons that can’t directly point at us in any way. So we can be free of any responsibility or guilt.
The larger takeaway for me from this story was not only that a child full of potential has been lost in such unfortunate, tragic circumstances. It is also important to realise that it is as criminal to kill childhood joys as it is for the child herself to die. All of us have a responsibility towards the children of our world to ensure their little joys don’t die a premature death. In our own little ways, can’t each one of us take the responsibility of one little dream?