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On my first visit...

puranOn my first visit to Maria Basti in 2006 I met Puran Singh with his parents. He was just three years old then. Fr. Paul Sitling (Parish Priest of Maria Basti, Kalimpong) told me about this family who had just come to the village in search of work.

They had come all the way from Sikkim in search of work and had finally landed in Maria Basti and were staying in one of the local’s land where they had planted potatoes andPuran_house maize.  Puran’s father was given the job of a care taker. A hut of approx 8ft x 8ft with a thatched roof was all they had as a shelter. On interacting with Puran’s parents we came to know that they were both spastics. But God’s had blessed them with a lovely child.

Puran_fatherMotherSeeing their living condition I assured Fr. Paul that I would be happy to look for a sponsor to sponsor his education and his stay in the hostel. Dr. Nilay Ranjan from New Delhi came forward to help us.

Puran started going to St. Mary’s Primary School in Maria Basti and was staying in the hostel which Fr. Paul had opened for the local village children. He started looking smarter and when asked about his ambition it changed from becoming a witch doctor to an army officer. He was very introvert when I had met him the first time but his life in the hostel changed him. He became extrovert and was liked by every one in the hostel.  Before dinner he would often sing for all and make every one happy.

During my visit in 2009 I was shocked to see Puran. He had grown taller. His usual uncombed hair had disappeared and now he looked smarter. He even sang a nepali song for me. “Ashar re maina ma, Pani paro ….” I was speechless and gazed at him not knowing that he had already finished singing the song for me.  As a token of love I took some of them to a near by village shop and bought a small packet of Kur Kure each. They were all very happy.

In the evening I was told by Fr. Paul that Puran’s mother was also staying with him helping him in the hostel. But he told me that she had taken Puran out of the school and hostel as she felt that he should become a witch doctor. The locals got together and managed to counsel her and got both mother and child back.

puran_marthaOn 8th September 2009 MARG celebrated its 3rd Anniversary and all our children from the various regions of Darjeeling came for the programme. MARG children had staged a cultural programme for the Landslide displaced families of Darjeeling.  Puran was also there. His narration of poems, song and mimicry was well appreciated by the audience of 180 in Divya Vani Darjeeling.

It was in the last week of November I got a call from Fr. Paul saying that Puran and his family didn’t return to Maria Basti after puja holidays. The whole village searched for the family. Messages were sent to the neighboring villages but Puran and his family was nowhere to be traced. Fr. Paul even sent people to Sikkim too to look for them but till date they have not been able to find the family. We do not know where they are. We can only hope that they are fine and doing well,

It’s sad not to see him as army personnel which he always desired after coming to the hostel. Probably one day I will definitely meet him in the hills of Darjeeling but don’t know as what. May be a witch doctor? 


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