Tenzin and Norubu Sherpa are ready to go home. The two child monks, who ran away from a monastery in Karnataka and landed in Chennai, will take the Jalpaiguri Express back home on Wednesday morning.
“I’m very happy,” the younger boy Norubu says in Hindi, stopping for just a few minutes before he runs off to play with the other children at Karunalaya home.
Earlier this month, Norubu (7) and Tenzin (10) were rescued from Chennai Central railway station where they had landed after running away from Sera Je monastery in Karnataka.
The children’s grandmother Karma Sherpa and an elder brother Anup have come all the way from Nau Bazaar, about 18 km from Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, to take them back home.
“I did not want to chase them away,” says Karma.
“They happily agreed to go to the monastery when we asked them. I’m their mother and father, I love them dearly, I would never force them to go anywhere they do not want to go. But they say they were not happy there. Norubu says a monk hit him, which is why they ran away from there,” she says.
With great relief, Karma, who runs a small canteen at home, says, “I’m glad we have found them. All these nice people have helped keep them safe and bring them back to us.”
Norubu apparently went running into her arms, eyes bristling with tears.
“We have a tradition in our family, that one male member will be ordained a Buddhist monk. One of our brothers, Lakpa Sherpa, is already a monk. Tenzin and Norubu also thought it would be good, and they agreed to go,” Anup says, speaking in English.
Tenzin says they were happy in Chennai.
“But nothing like going back home to family, is there? We missed our grandmother a lot,” he says.
Karma and Anup had to appear before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), and request that their wards be handed over to them, says Paul Sunder Singh of Karunalaya.
“Our team rescued them initially, and we gave them shelter during Deepavali. After that, they were entrusted to CWC, who sent them to MCCSS, an NGO in Perambur,” he says.
Karunalaya has facilitated travel back to West Bengal for all four members of the Sherpa family.