November 2, 2017
To live the life of a convict’s child is like living with burn injuries forever. The scar remains etched in the mind. Selvi (18) and Sarojini (17), too puny for their age, but studying Plus Two and Plus One have been living such a life since their birth. But the sliver lining is their mother found a comfortable home – Saranalaya, for the girls to spend their entire childhood.
Their father has been serving imprisonment for murdering his relative when Sarojini was just in her mother’s womb. When Selvi was 6 and Sarojini was 5 years old, their mother, referred by prison officials, put them in Saranalaya, a home run by St. Annes of Chennai for prisoners’ children at NGGO Colony in Coimbatore.
Since then the girls have been living in the home and attending school. They visit their mother in Anamalai near Pollachi every May during their vacation. They do get a chance to meet their father once a year on Independence Day. That is when they visit the Coimbatore Central Prison to present a cultural programme as a team to entertain the prisoners. It is for this day that these girls’ father longs.
“It is a day when our dad gets overjoyed. As we perform on stage, he goes around telling other prisoners with pride that we are his children. After the event, he would tell us that we are his life. This has been happening for the last several years,” Selvi says, with her eyes expressing a longing for parental love.
He is hoping to get released from prison before the next Independence Day. And as they were delighted about the reunion of their family, the girls have another serious problem to tackle. Their parents are on the verge of a break-up and the tender minds have to decide as to whom they should support and whom they should live with. For, Saranalaya will raise children only until their schooling.
While the younger one does not seem to foresee what is in store, Selvi is matured and clear in her thoughts. “We like our father, but we cannot ditch our mother. I have been trying for a patch-up between them so that we can live as a family like everybody else, but I do not know how things will unfold after my father’s release from prison,”Selvi says.
Putting aside her personal life and the mental trauma, she says with determination that her ambition is to land a job in a bank or in IT sector. She is hopeful of getting decent marks in the board examination and sponsor for her higher education and also guiding her sister in planning her future.