Morning starts for the boys at Bal Ashram with exercise, prayer, laughter and yoga practice on a beautiful roof terrace above their dormitory. Yoga is taught by a former student and by Sumedha Kailash who both runs Bal Ashram and is the mother figure for all these rescued boys. Sumedha walks through the line of boys adjusting and encouraging them. She stops to help a boy who cannot follow the class but gets up and down with them in his vague way. He is distant until Sumedha stops to love him into a pose. He receives her to himself. It is a good moment for both of them.
Two rows in front of him is a boy with a broken hand and foot. They fall at odd angles to his wrist and ankle. He has no disease. He is vigorous. Was he broken as a young child? His is a story to accept as untold. He keeps up with the yoga class. He does his lopsided downward dog with earnest correctness. He ran the path around the exercise field with the same acceptance of the challenge. He is not broken. As I write, a man passes my window with a pile of 8-foot- long tree branches tied together, an impossible weight balanced on his head. He talks animatedly to a man walking next to him carrying nothing. Crossing the road after breakfast, I passed a group of six women in saris of every color, each carrying an unbearable sack of grain on her head while chatting. They flowed down the road in the hot wind like a slow- moving river of marigolds. Acceptance is beautiful here. These boys are accepting the burdens of their former lives and rising above them to end child slavery and promote education. Theirs is a river of hope and action.