This Indian girl, whose tragic life story of rejection and loss, touched my heart with her beautiful smile and sweet innocent spirit.
I’ve always seen myself as an outsider, but not by choice. Various aspects of my personality seem to turn some people off. This story I’m going to share is not about me though, but it puts my experiences into perspective.
Visiting the home of Karibeeran and Choodamani Parameshvaran
Unfortunately, I cannot remember this beautiful girl’s name, it’s been several years now. That is her in the photo above. I went to India for a month and toured around the southern state of Tamil Nadu. During my travels, I stayed with several different families. I was, fortunately, chosen to go on a Rotary exchange program called Group Study Exchange. It was a great experience even though I felt like an outsider with the group I traveled with. Anyway, though I don’t remember her name, I remember her story vividly. It haunts me in a good way, in a way that keeps my heart soft.
When I visited the city of Nagapattinam, I stayed three days in the home of a fairly wealthy Christian Indian couple, Karibeeran and Choodamani Parameshvaran. Karibeeran, the husband, worked in the oil industry. The infamous 2004 tsunami hit the beach where their house is located just off of. Tragically, they lost their three children in that tsunami as well as Choodamani’s parents and siblings. They told me they both descended into states of deep grief and pain but they found hope in their faith.
Rooted in their deep faith in Jesus, they used their grief to help many of the children who had lost their parents that day. They ended up adopting over 20 orphans and turned their home into a place where they all could feel loved and cared for. You can read more about their story here Couple Creates Orphanage After Losing 3 Kids in 2004 Tsunami and here An orphanage called Hope: Indian couple rebuilds lives after losing own children to tsunami.
The sweet Indian Girl
While there I spent a lot of time with the kids, laughing and playing with them, eating with them, and participating in their chores. I absolutely loved it there, they were all such beautiful children. There was this one girl though, she was about 10 or so. She took to me right away for some reason. Her smile was beautiful and her heart was so innocent. During meals, she wanted to sit next to me. She liked talking to me and giving me hugs. I noticed that her right hand was paralyzed and somewhat deformed.
Out of curiosity, I asked Choodamani what had happened to her hand, I thought maybe it was an injury from the tsunami. Sadly, she had a unique and bit more tragic story than most of the other children there. Her current adopted mother told me that she was conceived out of an affair her father was having with a single woman. Because her mother was not married she did not want her. So right after giving birth her mother threw her into some bushes to discard her. In that incident, she broke her hand and it never healed correctly.
While she was still in the bushes, someone found her and an older woman and her sister adopted her. When the tsunami of 2004 hit their city, her adopted mother was sadly killed. The young girl was at school, which was pretty far from the ocean when the tsunami hit. Her adopted mother’s sister did survive though but she was too old and unable to raise her. So the family I was staying with at the time adopted her and gave her a loving home.
I remember well how that sweet little Indian girl would smile every time she saw me. She was self-conscience of her hand but not of her pretty eyes and smile. Nothing about my personality turned her off and nothing about her repulsed me. I learned a lot about love and acceptance from her. She was an outsider of her own family but yet was so open and loving to those around her. I think about her often and how she is doing. I hope and pray she is doing well and living an incredible life.