Pragnya Mishra

ragnya Mishra is an M.Phil. in Anthropology from Utkal University. She also has a post graduation diploma in Rural Management from Xavier Insitute of Management (XIM), Bhubaneswar. Pragnya has four years' of work experinece both in  XIM and  Agricultural Finance Corporation. 

pragnya quit her job to raise her children. She writes occasionally. She has contributed three stories to our website . Two of her stories includinhg one in Hindi has been published in two books namely 'Kangan' and 'Dear Daughter'. 

Pragnya has also co-authored a spiritual book 'God always Say Yes'.  The book has received much appreciation worldwide. 



When I met Gita, she was in a nightgown on a hot summer day, roaming on the road, as if desperately searching for something. Those were the days when one could hardly see any vehicles on Bhubaneswar roads. We were new to that locality. It was a newly built flat just in front of the famous government hospital of unit 6.  We were the first occupants of our house. I was happy and excited as I was about to join a new school in Grade 1. 

Govt hospital as on date -courtsey Google photos 

 It was the very first day in our new house. My parents, peons and servants all were at home busy unpacking the stuff. I wanted to see outside through the balcony but my height was short and I couldn't see properly through the balcony.  I went inside to look for a chair but instead found a small table. I dragged the table  up to the balcony to peep outside.

" Be careful, don't lean too much on the balcony' my mother warned me. " I ignored her. I was much interested to see the outside. I put the table to the edge of the wall and climbed up. I watched whatever I could see from the corner of the balcony.

We were on the first floor and the flat has a total of two floors. Ground units come with a garden and the first floor comes with a rooftop. There were 4 houses in one flat, two in the right wings and two with left.

In front of those flats, there were some 2/2 houses. These houses  were small with a small garden.  Probably some 10 houses were there. Out of which some 5/6 houses were visible from our balcony. They were standing from one corner of the road to the other end. Gita came out from one of those houses in the extreme corner.  She was probably a little older than me but was much taller.  

During her search, Gita raised her head and looked at me but before I could smile  she turned her face and started running away.

I stayed  at the window with the hope that I would find at least one person  with whom I could strike friendship before the afternoon so that my mother would allow me to go outside and to play.

But not a single soul was there. I was about to get down from the table when I saw Gita again. This time she wasn't alone.

But I couldn't believe what I saw . She was holding a grown-up boy' hand and pulling him towards her house. The boy was definitely in his late teens. 

And he was naked. Totally naked. Not a single piece of cloth was there to cover his body.

He was resisting and making some unfamiliar sounds. Gita was using all her force to pull him towards her home. She slightly turned her face towards me. It was such a desperate look, just a glimpse but with thousand unsaid words. A look that was telling me " Go inside. Don't watch". Though I was too young I could understand her gesture.

 Quickly, I got down from the table and came inside. I wanted to talk to my mother. I wanted to share what I had witnessed.  But she was too busy. Later on, I got an opportunity to talk to her but not a single word slipped from my mouth.

Am I supposed to say that I saw a naked grown-up boy? How she will react?  I kept my mouth shut.

The next day I went with my father for my admission to the new school. It was within the walking distance. My father taught me how to cross the road. When I was in front of Gita’s house, I didn't look in that direction. I heard those unfamiliar voices again, coming from the garden. My father turned his face and didn't say anything. He perhaps saw him as well but didn't react.

Thr street on which I lived -courtsey Satyasis 

Admission was done. Every day I would walk to my school,  I had to cross Gita's house. I had no other option.  There were no alternative roads to my school. An unknown fear used to grip me every day. I prayed to God to save me from that boy. Though Gita’s brother was never aggressive or aware of the outside world,  I was too young to understand it.

Soon those flats were fully occupied. Get togethers kitty parties , celebrations, festivals, late-night gossip, picnic and annual function by the flat occupants become their identity. Most of the flat occupants were doctors, officers, engineers with big status, pride and ego.

Gita and her brother were not fitting into it. Soon they become the topic of discussion.

. After some days, I heard a conversation  amongst  the  ladies. Everybody was new to those newly built apartments. They were in great shock to see a mentally unstable boy, totally naked.

“They should keep him in an asylum," someone said.

" Yaa, it's so embarrassing"! Gossip become louder with time.

" She is such a small girl but in charge of her mad brother? How cruel. Her mother should look after him."

And it went on and on. Ladies and their never ending gossip. With time everybody got used to it.

Eventually I made a lot of friends. They were all from the  locality itself. Some of them were my school friends as well. Every afternoon we used to play outside.

"Let's call Gita to play with us.' Someone suggested.

"Nah Nah! She won't come. Secondly, who will call her? Their parents never socialize. Their gate is always locked because of her brother. What if he escapes again?"  We were too young to handle any situation. So we decided not to call Gita.

I have seen Gita many times standing alone at the gate, looking at us. There was some hope in her eyes that someone would invite her to play  as well. But she never requested and we never made any attempt. No one guided us either. Initially, I was feeling sorry for Gita but eventually accepted the situation as it was.

My family stayed in the unit 6 area for 8 consecutive years. I used to meet Gita almost every day. On my own, I tried to chat with Gita. But she didn't make any attempt. At least that's what I felt at that moment.

With time many families got transferred. My parents also decided to shift from unit 6 to unit 1 area. With a heavy heart, I said goodbye to unit 6, my friends and school. I was already 15 years old then. New school, new friends and neighbours, my new life began. I forgot all about Gita.

 Years later , when I was sitting at a therapy centre for my son's autism treatment, I saw a similar kind of situation and all erased memory of Gita's flashed through  my mind.

I could recall that desperate gesture, her unsaid words. I suddenly felt very heavy in my heart. When people gaze at my  hyper son, I felt irritated many a times. Some do understand his condition but never stop gazing at him.  I could experience the helplessness of Gita , and she was so young then.

 She must have said without saying anything to the passersby "please, don't look at my brother! He is not okay "?  But People are people after all. Their disgusting looks at Gita, those cruel laughs at her situation, those caricature sounds of her brother's babbling and that unwanted advice. Gita used to face it every single day.,

I had never met  Gita’s mother,  in those 8 years. She never came outside. Never hold Gita s' tiny fingers for support though occasionally her father came out to take his son inside. I am surprised how a tiny girl of some 5/6 years used to manage it.  What she must have gone through?

I don't know what happened to Gita or  her brother after we left that place.  I can't recall anything in detail except  incidental and my unseen fear , to run or to scream, to look down or to keep my head high...I  was so clueless.

Today, I feel like going back in time, to meet Gita again, to  hug her tightly and whisper in her ear

“Don’t feel embarrassed...we are stupid humans who laugh at your desperation..but you are an angel.   

                                       You are God's child"!!!






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