In His Own Words
Hi, I’m Madhu and this is my story. I don’t have a written history because I wasn’t born in a hospital. I was born in a little village by a river, on a blanket in the hut that my family had built. I didn’t have a birth certificate or baby photos and nobody knows how big I was.
When my father left me and my baby brother at a railway station I was about 8 years old, so I remember everything I went through. I felt very sad when I was thinking about why they abandoned me and I used to cry a lot. I used to cry every time I would think about it and it was very hard for me to look after my baby brother.
So when I was taken to an orphanage I didn’t have anyone to help me know about myself and my family, and what had happened to us. I had a lot of memories, which I kept thinking about to remember them and to try to work out what had happened to us. I worried about would be my future.
When I was in the orphanage I used to cry but nobody would come and talk to me so I had to work out all these things by myself. I decided to try to forget about my past and my memories. It worked for a while because I had friends to play with and I would forget about things but then something would remind me and I would feel sad again.
When I was adopted by my Aussie family I was scared going with them because I thought they would leave me and do the same things that my old parents did, or do something horrible to me. The people in the orphanage didn’t really explain who these people were, they just said this was my new family.
A Lifebook Helps Healing
My life had to change again when I moved to Australia. I had to learn how to speak English and go to school. When I didn’t understand English I used to think people were saying horrible things about me, about what a bad kid I was. I was scared because everyone was a different colour than me and I hadn’t seen really white people before. I’d never used a toilet before or a bath or shower and I’d never had enough to eat. Now I could get water easily by turning on a tap and I could fill myself up when I was hungry. After a while I learned how to speak English. My Mum thought that because I didn’t really understand everything that had happened to me, but I had a lot of memories, we should write a story book so that my life would start making some sense to me. Also so that my family would understand about my experiences and so that my baby brother Sadan would know what had happened to us in India.So we used to sit down at the computer and I would try explaining to Mum some of my memories, and she would write them down for me. Lots of times she didn’t really understand because I only had a bit of English and I couldn’t think of the right words to tell her. Every few days we wrote the story bit by bit, but sometimes I would get sad when we would write about a sad part. Sometimes I didn’t want to write the book, so Mum would ask me to do just a little bit now and then. When we had written a page I would draw a picture on it about that part of my story. I liked doing the pictures more than writing the story because I didn’t have to bother about English and the drawing part was fun.When we finished the book people in my family wanted to see it. Mum asked me if they could, to see how I felt about other people reading it and knowing about me. I would tell her if I felt comfortable about that.I wanted to take my book to school and show it to my teacher because I felt proud about my book and I wanted my teacher to know more about me. After she read it she asked me if she could read it to my class. I said yes. The kids were good about it and nobody teased me about anything. They asked me a lot of questions about my experiences.My book helped me because I could now get through thinking about my past without feeling sad each time I thought about things. Since we did it I am able to start talking about my birth family without crying.
Finding Blessings Amongst the Losses
Sometimes I get nervous talking to people about what has happened to me, about being a child labourer in India and being abandoned, and about everything else that had happened there. My friends want to know about my life but sometimes I don’t really know how to tell them. I let them read my book and ask me questions about my story and I try explaining so that they understand me better. So I still find my book useful and it means I don’t have to think of the right words to tell them.I am still the same kid I was when I was younger. I still don’t know how old I am, or when I was born. I still don’t have any baby photos as the youngest photo of me was taken at the police station after I was abandoned. Sometimes I think about what might have happened to my birth parents and brother and sister in India, because I don’t know where they are or if they are okay.
I know I probably won’t get any more answers but that is okay because I feel happy about myself and I understand more about what has happened to me.
After I was adopted my life became better and has changed a lot. I’m glad it happened because if I stayed in the orphanage my little brother and I would have been split up and I would have been sent somewhere else. Although it was hard getting used to having a new family because everyone was strangers at first, I’m glad about being adopted because I get love and attention instead of feeling miserable and thinking nobody loved me.