Aakash is the older brother of our jungle-knight Satyam. In-between is Shiva aka Spiderman. And Roshni, not even one year old, is currently the youngest child in their family. Almost every year the family welcomes a newborn – while struggling heavily to feed the ones who are already there. The concept of birth control isn’t understood yet in their family. Their family house is right across our Villa Janwaar. It has one room and one charpie (Indian bed). The parents of these four are both alcoholics and only work occasionally. Hygiene is a foreign word for them whereas fights and yelling is part of their daily encounters. No wonder the Villa and the skatepark have become welcoming places for these kids to escape from their home. There, they experience something different, something which provides them comfort – something which they will take home. One day.
Aakash is six or seven years old. He first came to the skatepark when he was three. So more than half of his live he is skateboarding and really does it well. He is extremely agile and lissome. Quickly he picks up the latest trick and is trying to master it with ease. He rarely shows up alone. In the beginning I saw him schlepping his younger brother Shiva. Today Shiva is schlepping Satyam and Aakash schlepps Roshni. Upon arrival they would “park” the little one on a skateboard or on the ground, grab a board for themselves and off they go, until the little one starts screaming. Then they would come back, cuddle the little one and clam her/him down.
All of the four siblings have the same faces – slightly roundish when they are younger, dirty, pimply and usually their noses are running. Their brownish eyes look sometimes sceptical. But they always have big smiles. They are happy. Shiva loves to flip through the books in our library while Satyam is observing him. Shiva’s nickname is Spiderman and always everyone in the village calls him with this name – and he loves it. One day when I arrived at the village in the morning he was “blocking” the road – he stood with a wide stance, his arms outstretched and he was wearing nothing but a filthy knee-long T-shirt having a huge Spiderman imprinted. That was the day I called him Spiderman.
All of them attend the morning sessions held by Asha at the Villa Janwaar. They paint, play, build things, learn basic hygiene rules and Hindi. They explore creative ways which will provide them a more easy access to schooling. And because they are part of a bigger group they feel safe and comfy. They also learn to respect each other and value a better way to express themselves. The language and words they normally hear at home you do not find in any dictionary. If they continue to do so, this certainly will have an impact on their lives. It already shows – Aakash is taking his younger siblings for a daily shower to the water pump right next to their house. And this is just one example.