Movies romanticize street life, but trust me there’s nothing romantic about it. It is difficult and filled with hardships. It’s tougher when one is an orphan, not having the right skin colour, or belongs to the wrong class.
I know because I have been there and done that. It’s a dog’s life!
Living on the streets was not my choice. Rather, it was my only option. Circumstances led me here…
I’ve never met my birth parents. The street’s been my home forever. Shuddering underneath cars on cold wintery nights, seeking refuge in bus shelters on rainy evenings, or sleeping under the cool shade of trees, it’s all been on this street.
Hunger and fear have been my true friends and companions all this while.
There have been a few occasions when good Samaritans have offered me food. I am forever indebted and loyal to them. But for those few instances, the overflowing bins have been my regular kitchen. Even though my stomach would curdle at the putrid stench, the hunger pangs were much louder and enough to forget the smell.
One fateful day, things turned so difficult it felt as if those were my very last moments on earth.
It had been pouring cats and dogs for a few days and food was rarer than ever. I lay shuddering under a torn blanket, waiting for the hunger, dread, and tiredness to pass. I had had enough. Now all I wanted was for it all to end… the rain, the hunger, my breath. Everything.
The night grew darker; the rain grew stronger, and the last wisps of hope threatened to leave my body.
Every inch of my body screamed with pain and fear when someone touched me. I knew all about stranger danger, but something told me this was one stranger I could trust. The moment my eyes met his, all my pain vanished, and fear abandoned me. His eyes were as warm and loving as his touch. Even as he held me and took me away with him, I went without the slightest whimper.
We walked for a while in the rain, rather he walked and I remained snuggled in his warm embrace. He kept on cuddling me, caressing me, and whispering sweet nothings.
I must have slept off, for when I opened my eyes a little later, I was in a different place. Clean. Warm. Loving. Unlike anything I had ever seen.
Four pairs of eyes stared at me—2 adults, and 2 kids. ‘Shh… you are safe. Don’t be scared,’ said someone as I clasped my eyes shut.
I wanted to tell them I was not scared of them. I was scared that this might be just a dream and would vanish without a trace if I opened my eyes.
But this was not a dream.
These people were unlike the ones I met on the streets every day. The ones who spat at me. Kicked me. Threw stones at me.
Baba came as a ray of hope in the relentless downpour and rescued me. He is not just my father; he is my love, my life, my sunshine, my everything.
I am not a stray, abandoned mongrel anymore, but a loving family member. I have a caring brother, an adorable sister, loving grandparents, and the best mother and father in the entire world.
I am Khoi, and I am home.
Disclaimer–This story is my humble dedication to a loving mum to three beautiful children (including Khoi), and an incredible human being I am proud to call my friend.