These days we have some Indian visitors here at the Ashram. It is Pawan’s mother, his father and his younger brother. Pawan has been living at the Ashram for three years now. Pawan’s father had come to visit him several times already and of course the boy was happy about it. He has also been to his home town each year in the holidays for a visit. His mother is here for the first time though. According to our records, Pawan will turn eleven this year.
I am saying according to our records because it is not fully sure. While we are quite certain about the year of birth, there is definitely a big doubt to the date. We have registered every child of our school with a full birth date but for many of them that was a very difficult question to answer. You may think well, a small child of four years may not know his date of birth. That makes sense, so we also asked the parents. The answers that we usually get may surprise you.
Some women did not remember much and said something like ‘in summer’ or ‘during monsoon’. Others were a bit more precise and told us something like ‘just after Diwali’. We got month’s names according to the moon calendar, sometimes we got English months names and from time to time, in rare cases, a parent knew the exact date. If they had given us the date according to the moon calendar – for example ‘the first new moon after Holi 2000’, we could calculate with an old calendar what day that was. But obviously indications like ‘in winter’ did not give us much idea. So sometimes we guessed.
Pawan was one of the boys who knew his age but not his birthdate. So did his father, with the addition that it was in summer. Now that his mother is here we thought this is our chance to ask her and find out. When Ramona asked her, she looked at her, smiled and said ‘I will ask the priest’.
We had to laugh about this. This is India. She would not go and ask a doctor, she would not go and look on a birth certificate – probably there is none – but she would go and ask the priest. Why? Because he probably made a horoscope for her, he did the ceremonies, he was involved in everything. So he would know.
So we decided to remain with the date of birth that we had guessed for him. For him that is fully fine and for us of course, too. It is just numbers after all. Important is that the boy grows up in a loving environment, learns in school and is happy. He is intelligent and serious about school, so he has good grades. He has friends in school and here at the Ashram. We love him, he is a part of our family, too, no matter when he was born.