Who cares for Orphans? Mohalla plays mother to orphaned 6-yr-old
Sep 20, 2010
KOLKATA: Little Olivia is a bundle of energy all day - singing, dancing, playing with friends, watching cartoons on TV. Her elders and guardians can barely keep up with her. It's only at night that the six-year-old quietens down. Her eyes, as bright as diamonds all day, turn soft as she looks up at the stars, probably searching for her mom and dad. Are they up there, hidden somewhere among the pinpricks of light?
That's what someone told the six-year-old when her parents died in the space of six months. Did she believe this? No one knows, for Olivia has spoken to none about what she felt when mother Baishali Paul (32) and father Ashok (41) passed away.
While Baishali, a chronic anaemia patient, had a fatal cardiac attack in February, Ashok succumbed to liver complications on August 25.
Olivia's tiny world could have come crashing down, but for her neighbours on Harish Sikdar Path and Madhu Gupta Lane off BB Ganguly Street in central Kolkata. Seeing that ailing grandfather Subodh Paul was straddled with the child's responsibilities, the neighbours —-Shyamali Das, Ashim Ghosal, Shyamal Gunin, Dulal Deb — closed ranks and decided to share the load of looking after her.
A committee was for-med by the neighbours and the local Harish Memorial Club was roped in for the caregiver's job. As the news spread, more people joined in. Soon, many in the neighbourhood were involved — making it a typically old Kolkata para effort, where joys and sorrows are easily shared among neighbours.
So today, Olivia — better known as Oly in the neighbourhood — may not have her parents, but has a host of mamas, kakas, mashis and pishis to cater to all her childish whims.