a braveheart..named utpal

He is just four.. or 48 months old.. not a big man.. but a true braveheart.. he just checked his mom into rehab and will not be seeing her for six weeks.. that is the rule..

His mom drinks.. and a woman that drinks is treated with utter disdain in slums where she is the object of snide reamarks, ridicule and abuse by men in search for a drinking companion.. alcohol in slums reminds you of the world of Zola: it is dark and destructive. It feeds itself on school fees, and rent money and leads to petty crime.. Utpal has seen it all.

His tryst with alcohol began when he fell into a boiling pan.. and suffered third degree burns when he was one.. then it was a litany of ugly scenes and beating, and as he grew older the shame and indignity that he could barely express..

His mom did try to fight it as best she could but to no avail.. we tried to help but the addiction was too far gone.. and the temptations many.. then came the last straw when his dad stole money and was hounded by the police night after night..

It was time to put a stop to the nightmare and after much searching we found a centre that had a home programme for women.. Children are intuitive and somehow Utpal felt that the long trip we all took across the city today would change his life... he laughed all the way and his joy was palpable and moving.. we were not prepared for mom signing in, and when she did decide to, to my heart missed a beat.. how would Utpal react.. well we were in for a surprise as he bid farewell to his mom with a smile and walked away his little head held high..

He is with us at home now and the picture you see was taken a short while back.. he knows he is safe but above all he knows his mom is safe..