the impeccable host

Last Sunday was a very important day for our little foster kids Babli, Vicky, Nikhil and Aditya. They were to sit for their entrance exam for admission to their boarding school. It was an exciting moment for them,as somehow they knew that they were about to take their first step in a brand new world. I watched them get ready with a sense of joy and pride laced with a tinge of sadness. In the next few weeks they would leave their pals and the comfort and safety of the tiny world we had created for them with love and care.

I knew I would miss seeing them every morning as I alighted from my three wheeler and they jumped into it to set off to school. Their bright and cheerful - morning ma'am - was something I really looked forward to. But life has to move on and was this not the day we toiled towards despite all odds. I should have been elated and I was. We had taken the bold step of breaking all barriers and ensuring that these little kids got the very best.

They left for their entrance exam with their teacher Prabin. It was to be a full day affair. The children did well I was told and we await the results with bated breath but what was truly touching was the welcome that little Utpal gave them. One must not forget that he is now an old hand having spent three years in school!

From the very instant he laid eyes on them as they entered the school premises, he never left their side. He gave them the guided tour showing them his school with pride. He waited for them outside the classroom while they wrote their exam. As they were also to be interviewed and that the interview would be later in the day, he ensured that they were not bored or lost. The five kids played to their heart's content. They also shared lunch in the big dining hall and had their fill of swings and slides.

Interview over it was time to take the road back home. Utpal saw them off as any impeccable host would and waved bye till he lost sight of the car. The children rode back in silence, their head filled with images of a new world, one that would soon be theirs, one they never knew existed as they have rarely ventured out of their dreary homes.

My eyes welled with tears as I listened to the account of the day the next morning. When asked whether they would be happy to go to the big school all four of them had said yes with aplomb and conviction, their eyes twinkling with joy an expectation. It had all been worth it: the struggle, the snide remarks, the race against so may odds to ensure the required money in time, the daunting challenge of make sure that it would continue to be so for the twelve years ahead.

My incredible 4 had respected all the rules and never wavered. For the past 8 months they had played the game like champs. They had kept their side of the bargain. It was time we kept ours.

The journey has just begun. What lies ahead is yet unknown, but somehow I know that all be well, that somehow we will overcome every obstacle and win the race. The trusting eyes filled with hope are enough to move mountains and we will. Utpal is there to hold our hand!