Satchu - an outcast disowned by family

Satchidanand Pillai born to parents who apparently looked affectionate to him. Both were dark, short and had smiling faces. The mother was not the biological one for Satchu. She was a step-mother and he called her "Chithi" means maternal aunt. His father told him that his real mother was dead and Satchu believed it. He had two step siblings, a brother and sister. All three were affectionate to each other and like all happy children, played and ate together. The reality was, she was not a mother for Satchu and his siblings????

Studious Satchu turned prankster. He was a hero among us children and as we were neighbours. Satchu was always there during a crisis. Be it an accident, a lost sibling or a broken toy  our dear Satchu was there. He was a hardworking student who was disallowed to play during exams. Once we had the good fortune to visit a nearby park which was unfortunately close to a canal. Satchu was keen on visiting the canal by crossing it and viewing it from the other side. There was a narrow pipeline which lay across  the canal that made its way towards our colony. We were seven of us with Satchu as the leader. Did we cross the precarious bridge safe up and down? No Satchu's younger sister slipped into the canal and fetching her out of it was a task for Satchu. This incident changed her life and that of Satchu.

Satchu landed in a hostel then to jail

That day was dramatic for what followed. His father came home and the entire neighbourhood near Satchu's sister who fell sick and never recovered. Then came the angry downpour from his father -"This brat (Satchu) is mad like his mother. Go away to the asylum you are fit to be there...."(Satchu's mother was alive in an asylum). The rattled father flogged Satchu black and blue and vowed never to see his face and sent him to a boarding school. The events that followed made Satchu regret his life on this earth. He picked  up bad habits, repeated every class and finally  was turned out of school. A young disgruntled adult who became listless in seeking a proper direction in life. He took to picking pockets, gambling and drinking. I know all this may sound like a movie. Today he stands a social outcast, quite tired of being blamed for all misfortunes. The boy who was born to a family that  later disowned him.The kind of relationship as  children we shared with Satchu could not serve in resurrecting the boy  whose fate took a wrong turn. The boy who was more sinned against than sinning.

Those stylish girls

Primrose and Cynthia were school and class mates who were smart and fluent in Hindi. Reason - they spent their childhood during the first seven years of schooling in Delhi. Normally Delhiites only get a smirk from Mumbaikars but these girls looked quite endearing to the teachers and we few classmates. Primrose, the elder was quite refined and conscious of her buckteeth. A suitable hairstyle did hide the buckteeth. How? Short ponytails above the ears gave ample scope for the hair to fly against the wind so that the hair kept lingering near the mouth. Wow! What a discovery for hair stylists. Cynthia, fairer and prettier wore a short crop with a fringe to hide the newly sprouting pimples on the forehead. The sultry climate only multiplied the growth of those pink eruptions.

Children of a single parent

Reverting to them , these chattering sisters had no worry at all to keep them morose. But no I discovered they were hiding a secret. During the break they never shared lunch, sat aloof from us and whispered animatedly as if the wall behind them would crumble.

Then one day I was behind them in a queue to pay the school fees. The clerk at the window insisted that the fees declaration form should be signed by both parents. The girls turned gutsy and defensive. They insisted that their mother was their caretaker hence she can sign for both parents. The argument lasted a few minutes. The girls had to report to the headmistress. The mother was called and the nuns congregated to wonder why the girls had only one parent. Their father was not dead (according to Cynthia). Estranged parents? Oh!  Then one day Cynthia confided to me, their father was elsewhere and an uncle lived with them. This was how parents kept secrets.

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