You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.

You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed wrote St Exupery in the Little Prince. The operative word is : forever! Never did the 'forever' assume a more heart wrenching meaning then when Utpal was home for his winter holidays. You see he walked into a home where a humongous elephant had hogged all the space. I mean death as unfortunately whichever way you look at it, the dreaded word cancer brings the idea of the grim reaper even in the most optimistic mind. Somehow Popples too sensed the mood. Sirji not being well had brought changes to Maam'ji, even if they were invisible to others. The little fellow reacted the way any child would: he became demanding, impossible and even moody. At first I thought it was because I could not give him as much time as I would otherwise have and making demands was his way of getting my attention even if it meant my getting irritable and angry. But I soon realised that there was more troubling him.

I tried to reason with him as he is usually quite open to discussion but of no avail. I even got irritated and told him that he was now a big boy. His answer was unexpected: I do not want to grow up. These 7 words were an eye opener. There was something that was compelling this child to withdraw into a space he felt was a safe one. If he did not grow up than things will remain the same. That is how a child's mind functions.

I was deeply disturbed and called his counsellor. She decided to meet him immediately and the session was a difficult one as he was in tears most of the time. It was evident that he was troubled by some deep seated fears. His counsellor realised that he was terrified of losing me. She decided to have another session and talk to him about life and death. Surprisingly the session went well though I do not know how much his fears were allayed as this happened just a day before he returned to school.

This whole incident shook me deeply. One Utpal landed in my life I had no idea of what it would entail. Men proposes but God disposes. I had thought that we would be able to save his mother from the bottle and settle her whilst placing Utpal in a boarding school. This plan went awry and Utpal became my legal ward. I became responsible for him forever. But now the forever has taken a new meaning. This forever had to be beyond me and this had to be explained to this little prince who was refusing to grow. The challenge I face is to reassure Utpal that I will be with him forever even if it is not quite in the way he hopes. So help me God.