“A long way home ” by Saroo Brierley
As a five year old in India,I got lost on a train .Twenty five years later,from Australia,I found my way back.This is what happened in between.”
Saroo Brierly was born in a poor village in Khandwa,India.
He lived begging food,seeking scraps from cooking pots left outside,fighting off dogs battling for left over food.He did not go to school,he could not read or write,lived with his mother in a one room with his two older brothers and younger baby sister.
His Moslem father had abondoned the family for a new wife,he was given the responsibility as a five year old to watch his baby sister while his mother was gone seeking labor in distant building sites.
One day Saroo followed his 14 year old brother on the train ,all the way to Kolkata.
Lost in a overpopulated city filthy and hungry he manages to survive till he is lucky to have found his way to an orphanage.
The option of adoption is given to him and he is adopted by an Australian couple whose mission is to help children in dire straits rather than bring more children to the world.
In Australia the boy receives education and a training in a profession and he finds a warm family that cares about him and his adopted brother.
Thirty years old Saroo searches for months on the internet through google earth attempting to retrace the route towards his home and towards finding his birth family.
Thanks to facebook and google earth and a stubborn determined mind set the young man is able to locate his village and he flies over to meet his mother and two siblings and their families.
His older brother had been killed by a train shortly after he had gotten lost.
I thought how would i feel had i been left alone at the age of five left to care for a young baby with no food ?
Human beings adapt to every life situation yet it is the learned helplessness of those children abandoned by their parents and forced to fend for themselves at such a young age that made me so furious, how can he forgive the lack of responsibility of the adult world around him, at home and in his country and in the world?
Who to be angry at first? I don’t know, except that in every country there is much neglect of those who can not speak for themselves , who do not have the power , the voice , or the political support to be supported and helped!
The writer of this memoir expresses empathy with his mother,rather than feeling rage for the neglect, he wishes to help his aging mother to buy a home for her .
Rather than demanding to know why his mother left him and hos siblings he chooses to blame himself for getting lost and hos brother’s tragic death.
Anger may be harmful to ourselves we are adviced and yet while MILLIONS of street children roam the overpopulated cities of India
While so many eyes from the west are turned towards India to teach them values of spitituality and how to achieve bliss,how can one ACCEPT and remain calm?/strong>
Yoga is NOT learned helplessness,it is NOT a passive acceptance of a harsh unacceptable reality but it is harmony and wisdom and perhaps also the power to forgive those who were supposed to take care of you and protect you.
India is a country of many contradictions;
Ancient wisdom and modern ignorance,
A wealth of palaces and knowledge but also great poverty and cruelty.
This book opened many questions within me as a yogi.
- I do not think my thin skin would tolerate so much pain but then again here in the west pain and abuse are hidden behind doors of looking away too.
Looking away from alcoholics destroying society with their fake smiles while they ignore what is needed to be done and to pick themselves up from the gutter of a position that should have meant more done but means less is done.
2. This book made me happy for the writer who declares he has two families ;one in the adopting parents and sibling and one in India.
The family photos speak of warmth and love in both families.
But what kind of society allows children to be raised and abandoned like that?
The older brother was killed by a train, the children left to struggle on their own, what kind of society allows this?
So who am i to judge what i so not understand ?
As a child i recall being left long hours alone while my parents both worked , as the youngest ,no one seemed to care that something could have happened to a young child alone but somehow i survived and i always had enough food and a heated home and parents who came back at night unlike the boy in the book.
I took care of my pets since an early age but can not imagine having to take care of a baby as a child or living in the streets like so many millions of children all over the world.
Back at my native land ,a recent report by the Israeli Broadcasting System showed the life of young teenagers who had fled unsafe homes , begging for food on the streets, in the lifestyle of prositution,drugs and struggling to survive in unsafe building ruins incredibly just five minutes from the office of the mayor of Jerusalem.
At least the television crew dragged out the minister of welfare and he made promises.
India has between 400,00 to 800, 00 children struggling in its streets of its two major cities; Kolkata and Bombay, they are uneducated and are in danger of abuse, sexual and physical, and of malnutrition and falling into a life of drugs and crime.
So next time you plan on traveling to India to its Yoga retreats and Ayuverda centers ask yourself , what is important when you travel to a place where children have a worse quality of life than abandoned dogs in the west?
I have a great love for the Indian people, the teacher who had founded Sivananda yoga and had changed the lives of millions all over the world however , charity begins at home.
let us ask ourselves how we can improve life for every one, also those who do not have a voice to influence or be heard by those in power to make changes.
I will reveal here that one of my dreams is to travel to India and to be involved in a project to help street children and educate them to be angry and act upon that anger in a positive change , but i am still busy working on the second part, how we can use anger to make a change necessary in order to stop suffering and make the change necessary.
one day, i will travel to India, i will walk the streets the great teachers of yoga walked and i will look everyone in the eye and do something instead of complain or just write words. I promise!
In other societies children are ignored,invisible,their pain will eventually become society’s and the world when ignored.
Lets get angry enough to act and never stop till all children find shelter and a warm safe home.