As he placed one small foot in front of the other, taking care to step onto the planks of the track, he petitioned with the Heavens. He was praying for Baaji Tournesol, or Bahji Sol. As he held a conversation with the Almighty, Rajiv wondered about this big sister’s origins.
Baaji was always different. Everything about her stands out from everyone around. Even her name is different. Tournesol. She explained during one of the meal chats that it means Suraj-Mukhi, or Sunflower. As Rajiv thought about it, her personality is really like a sunflower – always looking at the brighter sides of life in the big house they lived in. Yes. For Rajiv, it’s now past tense. He has left, crawled out, escaped from the “Big House of Pain”.
From as far as Rajiv could remember counting the number of days, he had stayed there for a good 1826 days. 4 years plus 1 more day, as Baaji Tournesol has happily shared with the rest of the children. “It’s an extra day of fun with everyone that the Almighty has given to us.”
She was a sore thumb at first when she came. Always so happy, smiling. Even when she was beaten with a rod, she still smiled at the rest of the children, as long as she has strength. The rest of the kids thought it truly odd.
No matter. She made life in the underground “Big House” more bear-able. Rajiv thought about the chachas & phuppos he had to “make happy”. At first, it was very scary to be told to touch the chacha. He rembeted very vividly how horribly confused he felt after the “first time”. He remembered having been taught in his village school that it’s wrong to allow anyone to touch the “sensitive” parts. Only in marriage, with someone we love, in the far future, when we grow up.
Rajiv has grown up, rapidly, in the “Big House” when he was made to pleasure adults, for a price, of which he never knew the exact amount. He just knew that it was for repaying a debt accumulated by his father’s effort to “make it big”. Through laying bets on racing camels.
As Rajiv walked on the planks, he thought of how he has escaped, with Baaji Tournesol’s help in laying a route. “I’ll come back to save you, Baaji! Keep your sunshine going!”
He’ll go back to the “Big House of Pain”. This time to free more kids, along with Baaji. He had thought it hopeless to get out. Baaji has convinced him that there’s this Chacha at the border who is taking care of kids like him & her. He’ll come rescue the rest of them.
Rajiv wonders. Aren’t all adults the same? But for Baaji, he’ll give it a shot. In hope of emancipation for the rest of his “family”, at the “Big House of Pain”.