Devi has been fantastic on this trip. Both Pat and I could not be more proud of her behavior, her patience and her grasp of this situation and Indian culture. From the day we met, she has been such a wise soul and continues to be just that. Even yesterday afternoon when we needed to do paperwork, she willingly left us to go play with all the kids. This may not seem like such a big deal, but at 4 she left the comfort of us parents to enter a very chaotic area of about 100 kids where no one speaks English. Need I say more?
After such a wonderful morning with Sonalika, we were so looking forward to continuing our bonding after the signing was done. This did not happen. She was a mess. She wouldn't let us near her and if I tried she would do the limp routine and would swing her leg braces like weapons. There was a LOT of stimulation going on, however, as there were several university students there doing volunteer work. We felt it was best not to fight the situation, so only spent a few minutes with her and left, deciding to take Dev to the circus for our last night as a family of three.
We walked the 20 or so blocks to get there, getting ourselves a bit turned around, known as a little lost, but when in doubt just keep asking the same question over and over and eventually, you find your way. Once there, the only Westerners, you can imagine how we were glommed onto by the vendors and beggars. We try to always be polite, but when surrounded momma bear comes out and I had to be down right rude. Pat quickly asked to have us admitted ASAP and they let us buy tickets and go inside the tent to await the show and escape the obvious mobbing.
Rambo Circus, Pune's first, was the most bazaar set of acts I've ever seen. It was not the glam that we would typically see and everything was said in Marathi (Mar-at-hee), but still delightful. Devi's favorite was a little person clown act and Pat and I enjoyed the cricket playing elephant. We both commented there would be no way we would be allowed that close to an elephant without some safety precautions in the states.
We were home very late, past 11pm but it was no matter. After the afternoon meeting with Sonalika I couldn't sleep anyway, for I was worried sick about how today would go and could only imagine a second circus. Throughout the night Pat and I whispered back and forth a game plan, deciding the best approach would be to strap her into my hip sling to keep her somewhat contained in the auto rickshaw, remove her leg braces for my protection and head for the hotel. As for the planned ceremony, well....I was just hoping for the best.
Midnight, 1:13, 2:45, 3:22...each waking I was just praying for God to help us through today. Let little Babi find peace and give her some understanding that we will love her forever and keep her safe. I was begging for some wisdom to be bestowed that we might understand her behavior and help her through this huge transition.
We arrived at SOFOSH at 10am and left our donations, which oddly had to be inventoried and receipts given for everything. Then it was on to Shreevatsa to see what state of mind our tiny head strong tot might be in today. Once again, rare form. It was a struggle to even get close as she would run and hide in a maushi's (auntie's) arms. Because we don't speak the same language it was hard to know if they were telling her or me to do something, but on went the morning. Meanwhile I decided a little dancing was in order...perhaps song would bring her out of her shell, so I lead a boisterous version of Hokey Pokey that of course no one knew. They all caught on quickly however, so we did it many times until there were just no body parts left to sing about. Sonalika....was in the kitchen with her favorite Manda. Nice try!
Preparation for the ceremony began which included changing into traditional Rajastani dress for both girls, which was presented by the group of maushis. Then, the most remarkable thing happened. As if on cue, Sonalika turned to me, raised her arms, and wanted me to dress her! I helped to dress both girls in their Indian outfits and they then were both presented with beautiful necklaces. Their arms were smoothed with scented lotions and their faces powdered. It was quite a procession as each caregiver took a part in this preparation. One care giver brought her bracelets and a new outfit for us to take with us - a special something from her and she wept as she gave it to us. From the time that the ceremony began, Sonalika would not let anyone else hold her anymore and she fell asleep in my arms.
I asked the director about this change in her behavior. She explained that the children have witnessed this ceremony many times. They understand that some day each of them will have their day that they will leave this place with a family. Many, especially the one older girl....Sonalda (I think that was her name) ask often when her day will come.
Seated inside the rangoli blessing our children, the prayers began. Rounding the tray of offerings around us three times...once for health, once for happiness and once for prosperity the ceremony began. Each girl was presented with a lei of marigolds - Devi's presented by the director, and Treya's by Manda, the closest representative of family. Next, each of us received a red stripe of powder...the bindi of life, followed by sprinkle of rice upon our heads for prosperity and finally a spoonful of sugar to know life's sweetness.
This ritual was performed by the director, Urmilla Treya's social worker, Meenal our social worker. Then again by the maushis and again by the other workers. Finally, the oldest orphan girl offered her blessing. We were offered a plaque for the girls room and a set of diyas to light when we think of this place. So very sweet.
Then it was our turn to offer our prayer. That is when the waterworks started for Pat and I who were sobbing so hard we could hardly speak. I thanked God for this place, these people and the compassion in has put into their hearts...although I don't know that much of it was understood. It was so moving...touching...the true love these people have for these children. We were really taking their child away today, and although they were crying tears of joy with us, it was so very very hard. Many tucked themselves behind doors, as they just couldn't bare to watch us go.
Our last gift was the medical file that was started the day Sonalika entered SOFOSH and it is complete with even a set of her twisted footprints from before the correction of her club feet. They also sent us home with a packed lunch of treya's favorite foods...chapati, of course. We said the last few goodbyes and headed for our first auto rickshaw drive as the Ross Family of 4.
My countless prayers were answered today in so many many ways. We are so extremely blessed. Treya is a changed girl. She has received our love with open arms today. Since home at the hotel things are going great! And Daddy has just changed the first diaper!!
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