I must have been 5 years old when they told me that I was adopted. Once my initial confusion about what exactly adoption meant was resolved, I smiled widely. The next day, I proudly informed that my parents had chosen me from amidst a thousand other babies. I must have been an exquisitely special child.
I finally got a chance to visit my orphanage in Pune at age 9 and learnt that my birth parents couldn’t look after me as they weren’t married. I was adopted at the age one and since then Chennai has been home.
But all that was behind me. Or so I thought.
Children tend to live in their own bubble. I did too, until reality came sweeping in. I began to notice that my parents weren’t the perfect angels I had made them out to be. I saw the bickering , violent arguments and verbal abuses. However, I made sure to always be on my mom’s side during their fights as she would secretly strike me if I ever said anything against her in front of him. May be it was her way of venting out.
Due to the turbulence at home, school quickly became my safe haven. My teachers loved me because not only did I ace my academics but also represented my school at School Games Federation of India National Athletic Meet twice in 2012 and 2013. It was dream to represent my country one day.
In fact, it was during my athletic competition that I got the call about my parents’ divorce. My hopes to win the Meet took a backseat as the 16-year-old me pleaded on the phone for them to reconsider their decision. But to no avail. My father quickly moved away and I never saw him again. He did leave her a piece of land. Although they never told me the reason, deep inside I knew that it was because of his infidelity.
Life after him was surprisingly stable. Mom had met someone who made her happy and my unflinching obedience towards her made her bear my presence, perhaps even like it a little. I thought that we were getting along very well. Then all of a sudden she made me give up athletics. Although I never really understood the reason, but I gave up my dream. This was around the time that I took an keen interest in dentistry and made up my mind to see a “Dr.” spelled before my name.. I wanted to make her proud. I did get the occasional thrashing and candle burns from time to time, sometimes for not finishing my food, sometimes when I asked about my father. But I had a home and a mother and I was grateful.
Things changed rapidly when her lover passed away. She became volatile and unstable. Her brother took her to see a church minister from Kerala who she grew increasingly fond of and they started to grow closer.
The first time I met this church minister was only a few months back when I was 19-years-old. He came to our house to look over the property that my father handed over to my mom as compensation. Something about him made me uneasy so I eavesdropped in one of their conversations. He was asking her to sell the property and make sure I did not get my “filthy” hands on it. It became increasingly clear why this man had been so invested in my mother’s affairs.
I confronted my mother as soon as she was alone. The years of hurt, mistreatment and deprivation came lashing out. I finally asked things I never would have had the courage to before. “Would she have treated her own child this way? Did she ever love me? What had I done wrong?”
It seemed that just like me, she had been holding in a lot. They had adopted me to make things right in their marriage but I was clearly “a demon child” who ruined everything she touched. She told me that the church minister was right about me, that I was possessed, that I would murder her the first chance I got. He had warned her that I would infect her life with my curse and she should get away from me as quickly as possible. Her words hurt me more than her beating ever could.
She told me that she wanted to go far away from me to Kerala and that she had hidden all my documents with her - my passport, my pan card, my school certificates. I would never be able to complete my education, she threatened. I would never be a dentist. I cried and begged her not to do this. “It’s simple, just sign this then.”
She pushed a crumpled document in my hand that I hesitantly started reading. It held me responsible for my own finances from there on. I was never to approach her again and had no claim on her for support, financial or otherwise. It also said that I was the one who forced my mother into leaving. All this while all I kept thinking was “What had I done wrong?? How could she do this to me?”
I am now 20 years old but in that moment I was the same abandoned child who was given away to an orphanage right after birth. I fell to my knees and refused to let go of her dupatta, refused to sign that document, desperate to make her stay. “Please don’t leave me. You are the only person I have left.” I did not sign the document and she decided to leave.
It’s been a month since she left me. I have no documents and no money. My friends at my dentistry college approached various NGOs to help me pay my hostel fees but the cost is very high.. One of my friends and her family have been kind enough to let me stay with them but I don’t want to overstay my welcome. I have already been asked to leave one to many times.
I am currently a student of SRM Dental College, Ramapuram and in the final year of my course. I have already taken all the help I could get to pay the fees my last semester’s fees and now I am in desperate need of funds to pay for my remaining tuition and basic living costs such as food, clothes and stay. I have already fought my way so far, I cannot go any further without your help. Any contribution from you will help me continue education and become a dentist one day.
You are my only hope.
A breakup of the funds needed by Rachel for completing the next two years of her medical education are as mentioned below :
Tuition Fees and Internship Fees: 15,00,000
Accommodation, Food, and Transportation Allowance: 3,00,000
Lab Fees, Instruments, Textbooks and Exam Fees: 2,00,000
TUITION FEE SLIP