Saroo Brierley Quotes in A Long Way Home
"Me begot!" Later she found out I was upset that I had forgotten the way to the school near my Indian home, where I used to watch the students. We agreed that it probably didn't matter anymore. But deep down, it mattered to me. My memories were all I had of my past, and privately I thought about them over and over, trying to ensure that I didn't "beget."
Mum and Dad were very affectionate, right from the start, always giving me lots of cuddles and making me feel safe, secure, loved, and, above all, wanted. That meant a lot to a child who'd been lost and had experienced what it was like for no one to care about him.
This episode stayed with me as an example of my mother's courage in turning to face down her pursuers, and also of the vulnerability of the poor in India. Really, it was just luck that the crowds backed off.
Hunger limits you because you are constantly thinking about getting food, keeping the food if you do get your hands on some, and not knowing when you are going to eat next. It's a vicious cycle...Not having enough to eat paralyzes you and keeps you living hour by hour instead of thinking about what you would like to accomplish...Hunger and poverty steal your childhood and take away your innocence and sense of security.
Once, a porter appeared to understand that I was lost, but when I couldn't immediately make myself understood, he made it clear I wasn't to bother him anymore. The world of adults was closed to me, so I continued to try to solve my problem by myself.
Of course, I can't be sure what the railway worker's friend had planned or what happened to the children who were grabbed from the station that night I slept nearby, but I feel pretty certain that they faced greater horrors than I ever did.
I told them what I could. They recorded my answers on their many forms and documents. "Ginestlay" meant nothing to them. I struggled to remember the name of the place where I'd boarded the train, but could only say that my brothers called it something like "Burampourr..."
The types of people who had tried to capture me when I was on the streets clearly didn't let walls and gates stop them...I know now that few are taken off the streets, and many of those who are have a lot of suffering ahead of them.
Apparently, in the end, the delight I took in having abundant food close at hand overcame most matters of taste or culture.
I was keen on the idea of having a sibling. In fact, it seemed that the person I missed most from India was my sister. "What do you want for Christmas?" my mum would ask me every year. "I want Shekila back," I often said.
What happened to Mantosh exposed the harm that the bureaucratic adoption system can inflict. When I learned about his past, later on, I couldn't stop thinking about the nights I'd spent in the Liluah juvenile home, and how easily I could've experienced trauma similar to what Mantosh had experienced.
Because of all she'd been through growing up, Mum had decided that there was nothing sacrosanct about families formed only by birth parents.
Mum was delighted when the word came through but also calm: somewhere inside her, she'd always felt that the vision she'd had at the age of twelve had meant it was her destiny to have an adopted child by her side.
She is an advocate of replacing Australia's various state laws on intercountry adoption with a simplified federal law. She's critical of governments making it too difficult to adopt and feels that if it was a little easier, maybe more families would do it.
It was completely different describing my time in the train station to people who knew it as Kolkata's massive Howrah Station, and the river next to it as the Hooghly River.
...Khandwa Railway Station.
The name meant nothing to me.
My stomach knotted. How could this be?
Things had looked so right all the way from Burhanpur, which had to be the "B" town I had tried to remember. But if the bridge and the river were correct, where was "Ginestlay"?
Mum had such a dedicated belief in adoption and the authentic family that adoption created. I was worried about how my news would affect her, and I wanted to reassure her that of course they would always be my parents.
Even at this first meeting, she told me she was grateful to my parents who had raised me in Australia, and that they had the right to call me their son because they had raised me from a child and made me the man I was today. Her only concern for me, she said, was that I should have the very best life I could.
And even though it was exhausting to go over my story again and again with the media, I thought I had a kind of duty to do it, because it might help people—what had happened to me was remarkable, and might offer hope to others who wanted to find their lost family but thought it impossible.
I began to realize that just as my search for my mother had in some ways shaped my life, her faith that I was alive had shaped hers. She couldn't search, but she did the next best thing: she stayed still.
"Who are your family?" he asked next, and I found myself hesitating. "My family lives in Tasmania, but I also have family here, in Khandwa, in Madhya Pradesh," I said at last. That seemed to satisfy him, and I realized that it had also begun to satisfy me.
But like the teenager who later took me to the police station, he had given me another chance to live. He hadn't profited from his act in any way...and I had never thanked him.
But my experiences have undoubtedly shaped who I am today, providing me with an unshakable faith in the importance of family—however it is formed—and a belief in the goodness of people and the importance of grasping opportunities as they are presented.
I am astonished at the miraculous turns in my story—my mum's vision that led her to intercountry adoption, My Indian mother praying and seeing an image of me the day before we were reunited...It is sometimes difficult not to imagine some forces at work that are beyond my understanding.