Face of devastation, two-year-old cries for parents

Dehradun, July 2 (IANS) Wearing a white frock with violet flowers and her two tiny legs in plaster, a two-and-a-half-year-old girl, who has attracted media attention after she got separated in the deluge from her parents in Kedarnath and was rescued, is not happy just clutching her big bright doll.

She demands attention and wants those taking care of her to take her out from the drab, white-walled hospital room to the bright sunshine outside in her pink pushcart. But that too soon bores her and she cries and asks for "mama" and "papa". There is no answer from those around her -- mostly NGOs, women workers of Bal Vikas and Aganwadi - and the many who come to see "the wonder kid" from far and wide. No one knows how to fulfil the one wish the girl is asking for.

Everyday dozens of people come to see the girl, who escaped the wrath of nature, but got separated from her family in the June 14-17 incessant rains and cloudburst that triggered landslides leading to hundreds of death and an equal number of people going missing in Uttarakhand's Mandakini and Alaknanda valleys.

The girl was reportedly picked up by a driver, crying and in a pitiable state from Kedarnath area, and was handed over to the state authorities. She was first admitted to a hospital Rishikesh with broken legs and was then shifted to the Dehradun-based Doon Hospital on June 24

Since then, she has become the centre of attention. Newspapers and electronic media highlighted her plight, posters were put up as well as advertisements in the hope that someone, somewhere would recognise her and identify her.

But no one has come forward to claim her so far.

Apart from curious onlookers, there have been many whose hearts melted when they saw the little girl crying for "mama" and "papa" and there were many eyes that shed tears for the girl, who perhaps would never get to see her biological parents.

As the girl cannot speak anything apart from "mama" and "papa" no one knows her real name. Finally, she has been given the name of "Pari" or fairy. The hospital register shows her parents as "unknown".

Pari has adjusted to her new environment, said nurse Geeta Rawat.

"The initial days were very difficult - for her and also for us. She continuously cried for her parents. We didn't know how to make her stop. Both her legs are on plaster and it will take at least a few months to heal. She has now adjusted to this hospital, her room and the people around her. She has started eating now. But, yes, she still pines for her parents," Rawat told IANS.

As Pari once again refuses to enter her room, that now has many bright-looking toys from teddy bears to trains, the aganwadi workers and NGO activists take her out for a ride in her little pink buggy that was also donated.

From her clothes, to her food and toys, many people have come forward to extend a helping hand.

Moved by her plight, state Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna also met the girl and has ordered special medical treatment for her.

At all times, there is now an aganwadi worker who stays with her and at no time is she left alone.

Seeing the bright sunshine and the gentle breeze blowing outside the hospital, the girl quietens down. But again starts crying when she sees a crowd jostling to see her and taking her photographs on their phone camera.

"Is this the girl who was rescued?," asks a bystander of one of the women who form a protective ring around the girl.

"She was on TV. I saw her," says another, and starts shooting her video.

The crowd annoys the girl, and she again starts crying and asking for her "mama".

Usha Negi of Akhila Bhartiya Mahila Panchayat, is one of the NGO workers' who has been coming and spending time with the girl.

Speaking to IANS, Negi said : "There have been many who have offered to adopt the girl. But as per procedure nothing can be done before six months. Our first priority is for the girl to recover and then trace her parents. If there is no information about them, then I am sure the state government agencies will do something."

Ganga Upreti, an aganwadi worker, who spends around six hours with the girl from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., said people have offered toys, food, pram, pillow -- anything that makes her happy.

"The girl has won many hearts. People have come to see her from far and wide. There are many who have been coming here daily bringing something or the other. There has been monetary help too. But we don't accept it. So people buy her whatever makes her happy," Upreti told IANS.

The girl, however, soon gets bored with all the toys and all the attention - and looks with yearning for the one thing perhaps she can never have now -- her parents.

(Kavita Bajeli-Datt can be contacted at kavita.d@ians.in

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