Jayanti came to the skatepark almost from day one. Even before the park was finished she was one of the first kids using the newly emerging ramps as slides. This was fun! She laughed a lot – still there always seemed to be an invisible wall with no doors around her. It was hard for her to interact with other kids and to share.
This became worse when she got bitten by a snake. For almost a year she was struggling with the snake bite. In between we even thought she would lose one leg. The only way to move around for Jayanti was sliding on her tush. Her grandparents neglected our help and somehow she was cut off from the skatepark and separated from the other kids.
A wonder happened, Jayanti’s leg healed and she returned to the skatepark three or four months ago. “Re-socialisation” so to speak, began. Jayanti never liked to explore, she hasn’t even roamed around much in Janwaar. Not that Janwaar is a huge village to explore but unlike many of the other kids she is hardly seen outside her house. What was interesting is the fact that it was Jayanti telling all this to Mannan on the train from Varanasi to Guwahati! She told him that she usually doesn’t like to explore and that she prefers to stay in the house. And now she was with a group of seven kids on a three weeks holiday almost 1200km away from home.
Jayanti’s family comes from a very conservative Yadav family. They simply do not respect Adivasis. Naturally, she is conditioned the same way. While on the bus leaving from Janwaar, she wouldn’t even sit besides Suman, an Adivasi girl who was also traveling with us. Surprisingly within three to four days things were changing. We can’t say that Jayanti and Suman became close friends, but in Varanasi Jayanti said to Mannan: “I will only go, if Suman goes as well!” Wow – what a change!
For a girl who has never traveled on a train before, who has hardly been outside her village, Jayanti now has spent almost 30 hours on this long trained between Varanasi and Guwahati. She has experienced Varanasi to the fullest, enjoyed teaching skateboarding to other kids there, and is now on her way to explore new territories in Guwahati! Something must have triggered her basic instincts.
Jayanti is bold from the outside, timid from the inside and has a drop of curiosity which is now slowly taking over.
Photo credits: Vicky Roy
Written by: Ulrike Reinhard from Janwaar Castle. Little Humans of Janwaar Castle are photo stories in Collaboration with Leher, a child rights organization working to make child protection a shared responsibility.