When Manu spent his first night in his own bed in our foster care after sharing a hot meal with his roommates, I felt I had reached home after a journey that had taken almost a decade. Had I not fulfilled the silent promise I had made to myself the day I had set eyes on him as he rummaged garbage heaps for food and let out heart wrenching cries: to see him one day sleep in a clean and warm bed.
Manu took to his new life like a fish to water. The young man who had spent the better part of his life roaming streets seemed simply to the manor born. For the past year we watched with gratitude and also a tinge of satisfaction the little motley crew of the foster care get along with their day-to-day life. Nothing could have prepared us for what was lurking around the corner.
A few weeks back Manu got sick. It looked like a simple viral fever and we took him to the doctor. The fever persisted. Slowly Manu began losing weight and we were terribly worried. Last week he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. His liver and kidneys severely impaired, his haemoglobin down to 6.2. We were shattered and at a complete loss, unable to comprehend how it all happened.
We did swing into action and Manu is now under constant medical supervision but it is all touch and go. And yet I will not despair. Manu has an incredible spirit and is a survivor. I know he will fight and we will be by his side. And I want to believe that the God of Lesser Beings will once again work his magic.
Manu is so intrinsically linked to pwhy that one cannot think of one without the other. For the last ten years his smile has been the one to greet me, sometimes with a flick of his hand, at others with a hug. Even when he has been in a bad mood, I have always got my smile, even if it was a lopsided one. He was always there for me. I must admit I took his presence for granted: the proverbial good luck charm.
It is only when news of his illness reached me that I realised how much Manu meant to me. Much more than the one we got off the street and cared for, he was the one who pulled me out of my gloom and gave me a reason to carry on. When I fist met him I was rudderless and looking for an anchor. The loss of my parents had left a huge gaping hole in my spirit and for many years nothing had been able to fill it. It was when I first lay eyes on him that I found a reason to fight for. Manu had to be given his dignity back and to do so pwhy had to happen. But what Manu gave me was something I have never acknowledged till this instant and I am not talking of the kudos that have come our way. No Manu was the mirror to my own soul, the one who gave me the courage to look at myself with honesty and candor. The one who showed me what I was capable of and gave me the determination to walk the road less traveled. I could not have become who I am today if I had not met Manu.
So as I sit writing these words I realise that it is not Manu who we saved, but it was Manu who saved me. Today I reach out to all the Gods that exist and beseech them to heal Manu and bring him back to health. He is a true child of God and God cannot forsake one who has never done any wrong.
Please do say a prayer for him.