Some mothers prepare their teenagers for adulthood by helping them in their studies, feeding them healthy meals and teaching them how to treat others well. Sahdev’s mother, Vahini, spent time drinking with her son.
Despite an adolescence of consuming booze with his mother, Sahdev found steady work as an adult, but he spent all his earnings on alcohol. Over time, his habit grew with such force that even his mother was disturbed by it. Vahini wondered if perhaps a wife would temper her son’s addiction—so she began searching.
Alcoholic Son Marries, Abuses Wife
Vahini managed to keep Sahdev’s alcoholism a secret while she arranged marriage between him and a young woman named Tanu. However, it didn’t take long for the bride to discover her new family’s secret. From the beginning of the union, Sahdev tormented his wife with verbal abuse and brutal, drunken beatings.
Despite Vahini’s wish that marriage would soften her son, she didn’t support any of Tanu’s efforts to change Sahdev. Even when her daughter-in-law became pregnant with a vulnerable child, Vahini continued to side with Sahdev and his drunken outbursts.
Unhindered, Sahdev’s alcoholism only grew worse, inflicting significant liver damage. As Tanu anticipated raising her child with a drunken father, Vahini tried to find proper treatment for Sahdev. However, two months after a little boy, Aakar, was born, Sahdev died.
Vahini put all the blame on Tanu and the newborn baby. Instead of comforting Tanu or repenting of her role in her son’s death, Vahini demanded that Tanu leave the house. When the young mother resisted, Vahini beat her the same way Sahdev had for the last two years.
Grandparents Care for Mother and Young Child
With a 2-month-old child and no other options, Tanu returned to her parents’ home in the slums. It was the last thing she wanted to do, but her parents comforted her and encouraged her to stay with them.
Tanu began looking for a job that would give her time to care for Aakar, but it proved to be an impossible task. The family’s social caste had been restricted to jobs with long hours and low pay for generations.
Instead of pressuring Tanu, her father, Chandrakiran, took on the role of providing for his daughter and grandson. Tanu helped her mother at home while Chandrakiran worked as a daily wage laborer. When it came time to put Aakar in school, however, the cost of his education was too much for the family.
For all her looking, Tanu still hadn’t found a good job. She and her parents scrimped and saved what little they had, but even when they enrolled Aakar in a free city school, the costs for his supplies were overwhelming. And if anything ever happened to Chandrakiran, the family would have nothing at all.
Neighbors Tell Family about Bridge of Hope
If Aakar were forced to drop out of school at the age of 6, he wouldn’t be the first. Only 40 percent of his people are literate. Still, his mother and grandparents felt that Aakar should be included in that percentage. After all, their neighbors were gripped by poverty, too, yet their children were well fed and thriving in school.
When Tanu talked to her neighbors about their children’s education, they said their children were studying at the local Gospel for Asia Bridge of Hope center, a program that offered support, including an education, tutoring, meals and medical care, for children of needy families like their own.
Seizing her chance, Tanu enrolled Aakar at the center in June 2013. True to the neighbors’ account, the staff eagerly began building up Aakar’s academic skills while filling his hands with school supplies, hearty meals and even a gift for his birthday.
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