Adopted By a French Family When He Was Two, Now Searches His Past in Bangalore
Each of us has a story that we wish to pass on to the next generation. So we are not forgotten. But how can one tell one’s story when one does not know its beginning?
Sham Johnson was adopted by a French family when he was two. When he was five, his French parents told him that he was an adopted child. “They said that I was the 10th or 12th child born to my parents in Bangalore.” He was too young to ask questions. Or to hurt. “My adoption couldn’t have been hidden for long, because I am dark-skinned,” he says. At seven, he began thinking about his biological family in Bangalore. He hasn’t stopped since.
Recently, twenty-three-year-old Sham had sought the help of Bangalore Travellers group on Facebook to trace his family in Bengaluru.
All Sham knows about his past is what he has heard from his adoptive parents, and read on a sheaf of papers – Child Study Report from St. Joseph’s Babies’ Home, Promenade Road, Bangalore, dated 31/1/94 (this was where he was adopted from). Yellowed with age, time has eaten into the inked letters that reveal glimpses of his past: Mother died when he was 2 ½ months…Father’s sister took care of him for a few months, but later brought him back…Father, a daily wage earner…can’t look after him… Always happy and active child…bubbles incoherently…in Tamil.
The orphanage shut down in 2002, discovered Arvind Madan, one of the members of the Bangalore Travellers group. Nor are there any records. The lawyer who had processed Sham’s adoption application does not have any information either. Before Sham was brought to the orphanage on Promenade Road, he spent his infant years in St.Mary’s Orphanage in Chamrajpet. However, the nun who was in charge of Sham passed away a few years ago. “When my mother approached the nuns they said they would try to find out if there are any papers pertaining to Sham still with them,” says Mrs.Arulappan who is one of the well-wishers helping Sham find his parents. But it is a long shot.
“I did not know I spoke Tamil,” he says. Today he can only speak French.
Sham is now engaged to a Moroccan girl and is on the threshold of the next phase in his life, but eagerly wants to know his past.
There are days when he sees “flashes” — a coloured saree and a patch of floor. But he can’t quite catch the colour or the texture of the floor. They are too “brief” that he’s often not sure whether his mind is playing tricks on him. The only way he connects with his roots back in Bengaluru is by telling himself: “They must be dark skinned too, because I am dark skinned.”
He says it hurts the most when people ask him about his “roots”. “I never answer those. I always change the subject,” he says. “I don’t like to be pitied.”
“I hope I will discover my country one day,” he says. Before that he hopes to find his family. “I do not know what I will say to them. But I hope to recover at least some of the lost time and get to know them.”
Source – Bangalore Mirror
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