A New Lease of Life

More often than not, our perception of people is settled in the very first meeting. That impression seldom abandons the person it is attached to. The same is the case with the street children who are given intervention by SBT. People often take one look at them and assign a rigid personality to them. Some look at these children and say that they are incurable of their mischievousness, that they are thieves or worse still, that they are drug addicts. It is very easy to judge these children and freeze their impressions in our minds. What we forget to look for are the experiences that led them there.

Keeping this in mind, there is a story that needs to be shared – Not too long ago, a boy was born. His beginning in the world also signalled the end of his parent’s relationship. The parents left this infant to his maternal grandmother, and then both of them got married and left the infant, going two separate ways. The child had now become the responsibility of his maternal uncle (mama) and his grandma (naani). As the child began to grow, some behavioural issues began to be visible. He was aggressive and had a penchant for getting into fights, he stole and also developed a drug habit at that impressionable age. He was enrolled in a school, but that too led to more complaints of the same behaviour. After having tried everything they could think of, the two guardians decided to throw this child out of the house. But having raised the child, the grandma couldn’t bear to leave the child homeless and helpless. Not wanting to ruin this child’s life, the grandma decided to take the child back to his father.

If this change was for the better or worse, one couldn’t have said at the moment. Once there, he would get into arguments with his step-mother and even get beaten up by his father at times. These circumstances led him to one day leave his home and go to the New Delhi Railway Station. Somehow, he landed in one of SBT’s shelters called Aasara and was later moved to DMRC Children’s Home (day and night shelter homes). After coming to DMRC, he was enrolled in a school, and his interest in studies helped.

By the time he arrived at DMRC, his behavioural and emotional issues were left uncharted. He continued taking drugs, starting unsolicited fights etc. He couldn’t maintain peer relationships and sometimes had anger outbursts. All this while, a seed of incessant hatred toward his family and parents grew in his heart. Can anyone blame him for that? He never wanted to see his two guardians again. All of these accumulated issues brought him to SBT’s Mental Health Program (MHP). The moment he was taken in, it was realised that the child needed medication and intensive therapy. Both these things greatly benefited him and after some time, the child started feeling better and taking more interest in academics. But the therapy had just begun. The next stop at this Therapy Express was the Channelling Station. Often children with cruel and inhospitable backgrounds are unable to express their emotions, yet the emotional volcano continues to build within them, exploding as behavioural issues. Therapy helps these children find a channel through which they can express. This child was introduced to the theatre, so he could channel his energy. As this new road of his life began to take shape, an older road showed its foreboding face.

The child suddenly withdrew from his medication and to a lay man’s eyes, went back to the starting line. The same anger outbursts, drug habits and behavioural issues began again. This time the fall felt much harder. He had been here before, but to come back here was more painful than he could have envisioned. He was immediately put back on medication and under supervision. His therapy focussed on the deep seated anger he had and tried to guide him to a place where he could manage it better. Therapists worked with him on forgiving the past and also taught him ways to avoid drugs and other addictive substances. All this while, he was made aware of how his anger outburst and his need for a high may have one alternative – theatre. He was made aware of how theatre could provide him with path to deal with his conflicts and emotions.

He continued to be on medication and in therapy, while at the same time he pursued theatre. His prowess on stage earned him a chance to go to Scotland in 2014 and perform in the International Theatre Festival during the Commonwealth Games. Just before he left for this grand performance, he went back to see his guardians (his grandma and uncle). It was a point in his life where he had found happiness, tangible as a chair or table, and he has grasped it. He started making and maintaining relationships, healing old wounds and mending bitter ties.

Today he teaches theatre to SBT children and is also a part of SBT’s Old Delhi Walk team, while continuing his studies and trying to master English speaking for his professional life. He sees his future as a filmmaker. With the world as his oyster and SBT having his back, we wish this child the best of luck!