Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Rational Analysis.

It was a small room, with sunlight streaking in. There was a small table by the window and some fresh flowers in a white vase upon it. The bed looked cosy and comfortable. It was with some nervousness that Sanjana had entered the room. It was going to be her first real work of professional journalism after all the grunt work, she had been toiling with. But after absorbing the freshness of the room, she seemed to regain some confidence.

“Good Morning!”, announced sanjana with great enthusiasm in her eyes.
The dark lean girl, sitting by the window turned back and looked at her with surprise and a slight irritation evident in her eyes.

“Are you the lady from the papers, here to interview me ?”, questioned the girl, with keen eyes through her spectacles.

“Yes, I am the lady, but we are also going to be good friends... aren`t we ?”, replied Sanjana smiling at her first ever interviewee.

The girl remained quiet. She did not seem very earnest to have a great conversation. Sanjana seated herself on a chair opposite the girl with her file in hand. She took out her small notepad and her lucky hero pen , her father had gifted her, when she first filled the application form for a degree in journalism. Her father would have been proud of this moment of hers. She could almost see him blessing her.

“So Anupama, tell me how do you feel here, in this lovely…”
“Have you ever been molested before ?”, interrupted anupama, with seething anger. Sanjana was immediately at a loss of words. She no more felt confident. She was twenty seven years old and right now she had no answers to give this fourteen year old girl who had confronted her. She felt dumb and speechless, unable to collect her thoughts and words.

“Anupama, I was …”,
“Have you ever gone hungry for three days at a stretch ?”, she interrupted again. And Sanjana was done. She suddenly felt like a child who had been robbed of her ice cream. She had completed her degree in journalism and had worked hard with a local newspaper doing proof reading and the like and had at last, got this opportunity to make a report on the children picked up from the streets and rehabilitated, especially this child, Anupama, for the paper. She had gathered most of the details about the rehabilitation center, which had picked up Anupama from the streets, about many other children with similar plight.

She realized that this small lean frame of a girl had perhaps seen more of the world than she herself had, in her career and more importantly in her whole life. She could not continue and she just blurted a good bye and ran away from the place. As she reached home , she looked at the mirror. She looked haggard, with all the tears. She noticed that her arms were trembling. She threw away her file and collapsed on the bed.

The next day she woke up to the smell of coffee, her father, was boiling in the kitchen. She felt fresh and light, but the shock was still there. The night`s rest, however had done good and there was this steely resolve building up in her mind, to get over the initial obstacles come what may.

She took bath and spent some moments in front of her mother`s photograph, which seemed to give her more strength and sat down for breakfast with her father. Her father was a retired army colonel and was usually earlier than her to rise in the morning. It had always been like that, especially after his wife`s untimely death, his routine had only become stricter. She told him all that she had gone through and how she was shocked and
had returned without resuming with her carefully built questionnaire.

“Pretty evidently, you have not done enough homework, Sanjana. You have to find out about the girl. What problem she is facing and how she landed up there.”, replied her father who always spoke in a straightforward manner. “Thanks..!”, she replied and hugged her father before leaving.

She went directly to her office and met Mr. Rohit, her mentor and guide, and told him all about what had happened. “Sanjana, before you go for interviewing someone you need to do a background check, find out about them completely. Almost ninety percent of the facts for your article is ready before you do the interview. The actual interview in itself is only for that personal touch you give to your final draft. Also meet up with the coordinator of the rehabilitation center, talk to a child psychologist and try to understand how the child thinks.”

“But I don`t know any child psychologist”, replied Sanjana.
“Well!, I guess then you will have to find out.!”, replied Rohit with his trademark chuckle and left to pursue on another assignment.

She was about to leave the office, when she bumped into Mr. Dhavan, the editor and her boss. “How`s your article shaping up, Sanjana”, he queried. “Coming up fine, Sir. I was just off to find some child psychologist to gather more material.”, she replied.
“Oh!, you could meet Dr.Shantha Vasudevan, of Sunshine Hospitals. I`ll give her a call. You go meet her.”
“That would be great, Sir. Thanks a Lot!”, she answered with the happiness of a great burden having been lifted from her heart.
“Don`t thank me, just give me a good writeup with some rational analysis from your side”.

She then went and met the doctor and learnt all about the emotional trauma, children have, when they hit the streets, the angst and the desperation of having been orphaned, the things they look for, from a helping hand. The ways in which their lives could go the wrong way and how much they yearn for the happiness they see in other children`s eyes when they go to school with their parents. She also came to know how their innocent outlook of life is drastically changed when they face the harsh reality of the streets and how they are prematurely toughened up, most often spoiling their life in the process, ending up in jails or brothels or how they get hurt and end up as beggars.

Sanjana, was each minute learning that she was actually on her job, learning more and more and pursued more. She collected as much details about the girl, anupama as possible. It turned out that Anupama, had been a normal child like anyone else, went to school, had loving parents, but during some caste riots had lost both her parents and had been thrown to the streets, in a cruel moment of fate. With hunger and fear as she moved around, she was thrown against all the harsher conditions of the city. She eventually found herself in a brothel from where she was rescued and brought to the rehabilitation centre. Anupama`s story had been hugely representative of the cruelty meted out to child by an indifferent society.

Sanjana, through the course of her research realized that a newer perspective was required to the whole situation. She realized that she was not responsible for only telling the child`s story, but also telling the world that this victim is actually a child. She needed to bring out the child in Anupama and show to the world that here was a little girl who has suffered but deep down her heart, unmindful of the external picture of misery and injustice, she still was a child.

It was a week afterward that Sanjana, felt compelled again to visit Anupama. It was in the evening that she finally reached that very room from which she had run away. Anupama was sitting on her bed in silence with dreamy eyes. Sanjana today noticed how beautiful this little girl was. Sanjana smiled at her and sat opposite the girl. She did not speak. They sat in silence for a few minutes. It was a moment of peace, a moment of reconciliation, a moment of understanding.

After some time, as Sanjana got up to leave, Anupama suddenly spoke, “Can you take me to the garden outside?”. Sanjana was happy. Here was that first moment of selfless conversation between the two. They walked outside in the garden for sometime and sanjana looked on as the girl caressed the yellow flowers.

“Anupama, I am writing for the paper, a story about the beautiful child that you are.”, announced Sanjana. Anupama was silent as they walked back to the room. As Sanjana started to leave, the little girl asked shyly, “Can we write it together ?”. This was what Sanjana had all along hoped for. She laughed and said, “Yes, we must write it together. That is why I am here.”

In the days afterward, Sanjana was a regular visitor at the center and Anupama, a great companion. They explored different worlds in each other`s thoughts and words. Sanjana had started looking upon the girl as her own little sister by now.

A week later, Sanjana submitted her final draft to Mr.Dhavan with great pride. He was very happy to see a jubilant Sanjana and congratulated her on completeing her first assignment. “I hope you have put in a rational analysis as I said, Sanjana”, he remarked.

Sanjana, beamed similingly and replied, “Rational Sir!, Very much Rational!”.

Illustration courtesy –
Dick Heimbold, Vincent Van Gogh and Vern Hippensteal.


LERA said...

That was a well written story, reframing the experience with others perspectives is a challenge in itself, it's that understanding of human nature that can produce greater compassion and even a fierce determination to grow in wisdom to make "that much desired rational analysis"

Happy weekend:)

priya said...

Such an amazing story well written Unni. We shud never underestimate the feelings of a child and their problems never shared. In todays world, many go thru' silently and that in turn leads to violent behavior or hatredness.

Facts shud come out with the person being confortable and love when he/she has someone to share truly.

passerby55 said...


Whatever inspired this one?

This post has those hard, pinching, hitting feelings.You have a way to emotions.

Those who can bring their hearts to their job are admired and awarded truly. How beautifully and rationally you have achieved this from the interaction between the two females here.

A post which talks of mental sunshine that bought some happy moments to someone is the only rational analysis.

"Irrational things need Very rational analysis"...

An Acerbic post!.... Srijith you have hit the target. Well done!


mathew said...

very well written..just feel like it can be expanded with exploration into the depth of conversation..

good work..

Keshi said...

This is brilliant!


Srijith Unni said...

@lera: Well Summarized.. thanks a lot.., lera..! how `s your cooking going on..? :) Wish you the same..

@Priya : Yes, we really need to have some facts in place before we empathize. Thanks for sharing your highly valued opinions.

@passerby55:Acerbic..? Hmm might be.. I don`t know.. Anyway there was this emptiness with regard to actually experiencing hardship, without which we cannot really understand their problems. I just wanted to touch upon that. Thanks a lot for your great encouragement. I am truly humbled.

@Mathew : Very true my friend.. I have not explored the depth of the conversation, which must be done to create an impact upon the reader. I missed out on that. Thanks a lot for these creative inputs..!

@Keshi : Hi Keshi.. Thanks a lot for your support and encouragement.

jac said...

I like it ?

Mathew is right, if you expand it with coversational ribbons, no limits to where you can go.

k said...

Hey, you made me cry.

Srijith Unni said...

@Jac : Thanks a lot..! Do drop in all the points you can find, which will make me a better writer.. I`m sure there is a lot to learn from you.

@Chitra: I`m sorry. But.. lot of things in the world are like that aren`t they.