Thursday, June 21, 2007
My Temporary Son: An Orphan's Journey by Timeri N. Murari
• Published by: Penguin Books India
• Published when: September 2005 ,248pp
• Genre: Non Fiction/Memoir
*My Temporary Son by Timeri N. Murari
Little did Indian (Madras-based) writer Timeri N. Murari know just how much his life was about to change when his social worker wife, Maureen, brought to their home for a few days, a little lad from the orphanage she volunteered at while he (the little orphan) recuperated from surgery.
Bheema, as the baby orphan was named, was born with a condition called "vesicle extrophy" which is where the bladder is positioned outside the body, also, the baby had no discernible sex organs. The village couple he was born to were uneducated,superstitious and poor and when they couldn't detect if their baby was male or female they feared his malformation might bring bad luck upon their house, so without ever holding her son, the mother gave it up to the local orphanage where Bhima spent most of his days in an iron-barred cot, seldom touched or spoken to and occasionally banging his head against the bars of his crib (cage) when the pain of his affliction got too much to bear.
Luckily for Bheema, when Maureen went to visit the orphanage with a group of American expat ladies, she was drawn to his big,bright eyes which were filled with pain and made it her mission to get him surgical help and then to put him up for adoption abroad.
After the first big surgery she (Maureen) realized the orphanage couldn't possibly give him all the attention and medical supervision he was in need of, so she brought him to her home, where quite unintentionally and unexpectedly he became this childless elderly couple's "temporary son".
Murari has written a beautiful and poignant memoir of the time Bhima spent with them. He (Murari) was going on 60 when Bhima arrived at their home and had never been comfortable with children, but Bhima drilled a hole into this author's heart and let his sunshiny self in, much to the surprise of everybody, especially Murari who definitely didn't expect to be wrapped around a little child's finger .
Murari infuses each of the 248 pages with his love for Bhima and his pride in everything Bhima did. Each milestone is spoken of lovingly and from the heart. And, at the end, when the time comes for Bhima to go to his official adoptive parents, the heartbreak Murari experiences is so real and heartfelt it will jump off the page touching you too.
As he tells us Bhima's story the writer meanders wonderfully into a little family history, philosophy, scientific musings, self-introspection, the social history and culture of Madras, the adoption process in India, all of which makes for very interesting reading. Infact, the book closes with atleast 20 pages of official information on the adoption process in India.
Bhima, as with many Indian kids, was adopted by a European family which made me think a little about international adoption and why it is favored in the west - North America and Europe. Why do people like Madonna and Angelina Jolie prefer to adopt kids from Africa and Asia instead of opting to adopt domestically? And what is the effect on these kids as they grow up with white parents..do they wonder about and miss their birth culture? It had me wondering too, what happens when an adoption goes wrong, as in, when the adoption agency doesn't reveal to you certain significant details (concerning health maybe) about the child. What recourse does the adoptive parent have? As you can see, this book made me think about adoption and the wonderful people that do it to give an orphan a better home.
I would recommend this book.