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99 Yatra
Week after she was abandoned, child helps parents tie knot
26 September 2007

Rajkot:  When she was born, her unwed mother’s first impulse was to abandon her. And she did, at a public toilet in Anjar town of Kutch district. But now, the eight-day-old baby girl has proved to be the reason her parents, Manju and Govardhan, have finally gathered the courage to go against the community, which forbade Manju —a child widow — from remarrying, and tying the knot.

According to details, 20-year-old Manju and Govardhan Singh (30) were in love, but could not marry as it was forbidden in their community. Manju, who is from Uttar Pradesh, had been married off when she was six years old and had been widowed at the age of 10. Widow remarriages are forbidden in her community. It was while working as a labourer in Anjar that she met Govardhan, who also belongs to UP. Fearing her community’s wrath after she gave birth to his baby, she abandoned the newborn on September 18.

But fate had other plans. Barely a few hours after the baby girl was left at a public toilet in Anjar, the police were informed. They took her to the Referral Hospital. “The baby was barely a few hours old when she was brought to us. Her condition was serious,” said Dr Hitesh Thakkar, a general surgeon with the hospital. In fact, the credit for reuniting the baby’s parents goes to him and his wife, Yamini, who is a human resource consultant. Initially the Thakkars had decided to adopt the baby, but when the Anjar police managed to locate her parents and arrested them, the couple not only bailed out Manju and Govardhan out, but also gave them financial and moral support to enable them to get married.

The baby was so vulnerable and cute. We didn’t want her to go to an orphanage. So we decided to adopt her,” say Hitesh and Yamini. They have four daughters, aged between eight to one-and-a-half years, of whom two are adopted. “We were more than happy to welcome a fifth child into our family. So we initiated the procedure for adoption on September 20. By that time, the police had managed to trace Manju and Govardhan. So we decided to drop the adoption plan,” says Yamini.

At first, Manju and Govardhan were hesitant to accept the child. They were first bailed out of jail by Thakkars. Then followed long counselling sessions with Yamini. On Sunday, almost a week after the baby was abandoned, Manju and Govardhan got married. From the naamkaran of the baby, to the mehndi, pithi and marriage ceremony, all functions were held at Thakker’s house. - New Delhi,India

 kutchhis globally , from Mumbai

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