Return of the Prodigal son
I had given up my son for dead”, was what Saraswathi- a resident of Rourkela village in Orissa, had to say about her son Raju who ran away 13 years back.
Raju, the second, amongst his five siblings ran away from his home to save himself from the beatings of his abusive father. He catched a train and arrived in New Delhi. Raju was alone and scared, he survived off scraps of food for three days until he met Deepalaya social worker-Ram Singh.
Raju was briefed about the Institutional Care project and was convinced to stay there. Since then, Raju has been living in the boys hostel and doing well in his studies. He made friends with his peers and developed interest in cricket. Raju completed his 10th standard with Deepalaya, and then registered with the NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) in 2010 to complete his studies up till 12th Standard.
As, he grew older, Raju’s thoughts of returning to his family grew stronger each passing day. Recently he went along with Achyutanand- counsellor at the Institutional Care, to find his family. Raju only remembered that his house was near a temple on a hill when the auto driver interrupted saying that he knew the place. On arriving they spoke to some locals and enquired about the family, several of them had remembered Raju going missing years ago and directed them to the house. Some of them ran ahead to tell Raju's mother.
It was a sobbing Saraswathi waiting at the door to welcome her son. Raju's two younger brothers and elder brother were also amazed, shocked and truly happy to meet him.
The family discussed about Raju's education and advised him to finish it first. Raju handled the enormity of the situation with real dignity, maturity and responsibility and has decided to complete his studies first before coming back to his family and support them.