For Gopika, Gokul, Govindhan and Stella, no mother waits to feed them love and care spread on a banana platter. No father comes to pamper them with sweet fun and frolic. No family gathers around them to spoil them with choices.
But on Monday, Onam came, without the colour of any memories but with a hope that the world still holds lot of love and hope for them. To share Onam with them at the child adoption centre of the Kerala State Council for Child Welfare were Chief Minister Oomen Chandy, his wife Mariamma, and Ministers M.K. Muneer and V.S. Sivakumar.
Before the guests were welcomed by the staff members and by District Collector K.N. Satheesh, the 49 children at the home probably got a taste of how an athappookalam is made. The flower carpet was elaborately done-up at the entrance of the hall, to which the guests were invited to the accompaniment of a special chenda melam. King Mahabali and Vamana were there, too, giving the children a chance to look wide-eyed at the loud and rich splendour around.
The children, smart and groomed-up in their new outfits, got chocolates from the Chief Minister’s wife, who also gave them other goodies. Amid the partying, Chief Minister found time to interact with the staff members and to visit the Chacha Nehru’s Children’s Museum and its exquisite stock of more than 2,500 dolls.
At lunchtime, the children sat in front of a neatly-laid out traditional platter flanked by the Chief Minister and his colleagues. Little Devu got a piece of ‘papadam’ from the Chief Minister, who sat next to her. She seemed pleased, though shy, but Gopika, who sat next to Mr. Sivakumar, was not too happy with the cameras flashing as the Minister offered her some food.
Twin brothers Gokul and Govindhan, dressed up in white kurta, were away from all the attention they got, as they sat in their own worlds relishing their sadya and playing.
This year’s Onam celebration at the home comes after problems within the organisation and the death of a toddler at the child adoption centre two months ago. “Last year, Onam celebrations were not held due a lot of political tussles within the organisation. After District Collector took over the administration, situations have improved. The wages are more regular and there is adequate funding provided at the training centers,” said one of the teacher at the centre.
Following the death of a toddler at the child adoption centre here two months ago and after directions from the Kerala High Court, District Collector K.N. Satheesh had taken over the administration of the centre.
“The new paediatrician, posted at the centre, will be joining after Onam. Chief Minister has also sanctioned the appointment of an additional nurse and promised all support for the treatment of a child who suffers from autism. He has also asked to submit the reports on the proposed plan for a lift (elevator) facility at the centre,” District Collector K.N. Satheesh told The Hindu.
As the children bid goodbye to the celebrations this year, they looked hopeful. That Onam would return with more joys and guests. And that tomorrow holds a promise of a world full of love.