a tale of survival in India at 60

Yesterday morning Mehajabi came by project why with her mom. Today she will be going to the hospital and if all goes well, should be admitted for her open heart surgery.

It has been a long journey for this little girl and her family. She was born a year ago in the well protected world of a madrassa where her father eked out a living as a helper in the kitchen. Her mother and four siblings lived in the precinct of this place of learning. Her older siblings even attended classes. Life would have continued placidly had little Mehajabi been hale and hearty. But that was not the case as from her early days the little girl seemed in poor health. The local doctors could not do much and even the doctors of close by towns advised a visit to Delhi. The family had no choice but to pack up their life and come to the big and uncaring city.

Mehajabi was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect needing expensive surgery and the little family waited for a miracle. The father took on work as a daily wage labourer and the mother carried on surviving, while praying for the life of her last born.

This week, in all probabilities, Mehajabi's heart will be fixed and a new life will begin for her. As I watched the almost picture perfect mother and child, I wondered what lay in store for them. I listened to mariam, Mehajabi's mom, as she shared her life plans with candid simplicity. They had plans to return to the madrassa and its sheltered life as soon as Mehajabi would be well. There they would resume the life they had left on hold. The father would continue helping in the kicthen and she would bring up her children within those walls for years to come.

I looked at little Mehajabi as she sat on her mother's lap and wondered what her life would be like. Would she too be married at a young age and live a life akin to her mother's or would she be able to break free. The question is almost redundant. The options for little Mehajabi and millions of little girls like her are few. The shackles of the society they live in will not allow them to go far.

At times like this, I feel utterly helpless. What can one do to change things and give little girls like Mehajabi a brighter tomorrow and a right to live and not just survive?