"No one can be a friend to anyone sister, you dont know still" . This was the reaction of 15 year old ammu when i asked her about her friends! She was not representing a teeneger hanging out in CCDs , wearing branded jeans , bright T-shrit with catchy writings and a bag hanging way below the knee. Her apartment is not a three bed room flat in gandhi nagar and both her parents are not working. She doesnt freak out , may it be movies or may it be maths!
Are you able to relate to ammu, can you imagine her? Finding it difficult right?
Even i found it very difficult until i actually saw her in the 'Government Remand home for Girls'.
Its a place where the socially victimised girls below the age of 18 are brought after being rescued by the police.
A place where you get the see some otherwise unseen faces. Some 3 girls who were abandoned by their families for being mentally challenged are mixed up in this crowd of 117. They were smiling , infact they were constantly smiling at me when i went there.
However ammu who brought me tea while i was waiting in their office room never smiled at me.
And she was the one who gave me that 'never before heard' answer about friendship. I did not react. Infact i didn know how to. May be she is right!
Surround by people with whom she has compete for using anything from toilet to toilet soap , with whom she has to adjust 24*7 for the reason of no choice, behind whom she has to wait in long queue for getting her plate of food, besides whom she has to sleep in congested room how can she be a friend?
Its nice to have friends who send sms, greet over a e-card,drops down once in a while, meets over the weekend. But how to find a friend in a person with whom you need to compete for survival?
I spoke to them, yes i spoke to all the 117 of them including those three delightful faces sitting in the left corner. I told them to read the books from the library we had set up for them. We spoke about movies to mullah stories, kadhalil viludhen to Kalam effect , career to coffee.
When i asked about their talents , leela said "we can sing, dance and shout(!?)". Did you ever know that shouting is a talent. Know it now. Oh god! They shouted to blow off the roof up to the sky. Amazing girls!
I was curious and asked leela about her friends. Without a minute of hesitation she said, "No one can be a friend to anyone sister, you dont know still".
(Names are changed for anonymity)