A visit to the Asylum

It was with great reluctance that I got up that day to go to ‘Asha Bhavan’ as a part of compulsory social service of our institution. It was a home for psychologically handicapped women who were abandoned by their families. It was an old building , we were greeted at the door by an old woman .I smiled at her and she did the same. We , the students had the duty of cleaning up the backyard .When we were at work , a few  inmates watched us with curious eyes , questioning us on our purpose. All of  them seemed healthy to me then.After the clean up we were led to a small auditorium for an interactive session. A few women came to meet us . Some faces smiled at us , a few lost in other worlds probably living in their past glory. The Head of the asylum introduced us . He informed us that the condition there is deplorable , there is not enough room to house all the inmates including the newly arrived patients. He strongly believes that the number of women left out will never decrease . Some families abandon the patients due to their lack of financial resources , some regard them as  black marks , that reduces their prestige . Even when the death of the patient is conveyed to them , only a few came to receive the dead bodies. A few women still carried their memories and asked for their families now and then . The old woman we met at the door was from Goa , she waited there all day every day thinking that someone would come to take her home but none ever did. They sang to us,fragmented lines and out of tune with a childish smile and coy eyes . I stood there stunted at the dearth of humanity. God’s  mischief  they, I realized are a few people on earth who are never judge us , who will accept you for who you are and love you the same. The  assistants who took care of them have never received a proper remuneration yet remain rooted to the women because of their unconditional love . Each face lost among the memories they cherished had a melancholic tale which brought tears to the listener’s eyes. They seldom had any visitors and were glad when someone ever came . I was glad I came , a little sad perhaps at the same time grateful that I had a better life . I walked back with a promise to return to these faces … I don’t know when but soon I hope.

© SV

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