I used to visit a children’s home as a student social worker along with another batch mate. Two brothers caught our eye. The elder one was reserved, but with a heart warming smile. He was also fiercely protective of his younger and definitely more mischievous brother. The older, let’s call him Michael, was in Class VI. The younger (say – David) was in Class IV. It was only when we saw their case files that we realised the horrors that they had dealt with. They had seen their father kill their mother in a drunken fit. The two had escaped to a big city and found work at a tea stall. They were harassed by the owner. Sexual abuse was also suspected.
They had been in the home for a couple of years when we met them. By then, they had settled into a routine. Then, we found Michael behaving a little differently. He became more reserved, more moody. Was it just adolescence or something else? We were told to talk to him.
Gradually, he opened up. He had been rescued by a priest. This Father was an important role model for him. In fact, he wanted to grow up and become a Father himself. So what was the problem, we asked. Well, he liked a girl who was in Class V. He wanted to speak to her, be friends with her. It could even lead to something serious, he thought. But then, weren’t priests supposed to stay bachelors? So, if he started talking to her, could he, even then, become a priest later? We assured him that there was nothing wrong in talking to the girl, in being friends with her. He did not have to take a decision about priesthood right now. That could, and should, wait. He should see how he feels and what he wants when he is in Class X. That will help him take a decision. That shy, heart warming smile was back and we were grinning back at him.