Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Of prodigal sons and fathers

The last three weeks or so have been quite interesting here at Ramanthapur.  Among the many things that keep happening, a new phenomena was the return of the 'prodigal sons'.  More than a couple of boys, seniors who took off some months ago at different times and with no apparent (stated) reasons, began to return.  These boys were among the "leaders" cadre among the boys.  Their departure did create some flutter in the community then.  So did their return!  Several boys who thought that those who took off have made it big, were quite humbled and in a way surprised to see them return all lost and weary.

While many in the community, confreres, staff and students rejoiced at this 'ghar wapsi', I found it quite unsettling.  While other saw it as a sign of our greatness to be able to attract the boys back home, I saw it as a drawback.  For me it basically meant that we "successfully" made them into cocoons, rather than help them find their wings and take off.  Rather than make it on their own, we have incapacitated them so badly that they cannot survive in the world on their own. Imagine:  a child from the street now is not able to live in the society, in spite of having some skill or trade or profession to follow.

For once, I'm unable to fathom the meaning of the parable of the Prodigal son, in this context!

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, it is very sad and a big problem. We constantly faced it in Navajeevan. We've institutionalised the person.

    Some of us used to argue about keeping the older boys for so long. That after the training or higher studies, they should make their own way but unlike kids in normal families, these children seem to get confused about the fact that they are required to become independent. A misplaced sense of entitlement is also there, which even the kids of other families have these days.Coupled also with a reluctance to work hard for little wages and manage with that. I guess we could say we don't teach them a work ethic. Like all the other kids too, things come too easy at home.

    In these cases, the prodigal son has not found himself, like in the parable. He just sees that the father is a better and safer deal. As for the fathers here, their concerns are weak. They are sentimental and not loving. They like the comfort of the relationship over the health of the person.

    The only way I felt we could approach it to have a strict rule about it as an institution but to have individual follow up for the support the child needs. Those are tough calls to make, though.


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