My Brother's Keeper
A few months ago, while hunting for a birthday gift for my son, a title in a book store grabbed my attention. It was called “A Long Way from Home”. Its author was a young man named Saroo Brierley. After a quick glance through the book I knew I had to buy it.
It was a deeply moving story. Little five year old Saroo had got accidentally lost and separated from his family. He miraculously survived for awhile on the streets of Calcutta (Kolkata now) before he was taken to a police station by a caring teenage boy. Saroo was sent to an orphanage. He was then adopted by a wonderful Australian couple living in Tasmania. Saroo kept the memory of his hometown and his family alive by replaying the pictures of them over and over again in his mind.
After an intense search, 26 years later – Saroo was reconciled with his long lost family. Tears blurred my vision as I gazed on the pictures of him with his family; especially those of him with his birth Mother. What an amazing story! I gleaned many lessons from it as I reflected long and hard on Saroo's life journey; and on everyone in it. The amazing couple who had given him a good life by adopting him. His courageous birth mother and siblings who are at the heart of his story. Saroo Brierley himself sounds an exceptional young man.
I love novels which have happy endings, don’t you? Even better to have a happy ending in a real life story. Saroo’s story gripped me because it was a true story; Saroo is still a young man with life ahead of him. It was a story of human resilience. Of hope and courage. A story of perseverance. One of taking responsibility. Of making good things happen because Saroo never gave up. He made the happy ending happen.
Here are some life lessons I learnt from his story:
Saroo was lost and found. The story of all our lives is also one of being lost and found. We are all “lost” until God finds us. Just as it was imperative for Saroo to find the home and family he’d lost it’s also vital that you and I are found by the God who created us so we can regain our identity in Him.
Saroo survived. When my son was little, because he was so dependant on us, my worst nightmare was that he’d be separated us by death. That worst nightmare occurred in Saroo’s life. He was separated from his family though not through death. What made that remarkable ending was that he never gave up trying to find his family. Just the fact that he survived on the dangerous streets of Calcutta was incredible. His ingenuity and courage helped him. If a little 5 year old got through such a nightmare, you and I too can survive hard times.
Saroo’s perseverance paid off. Saroo spent hours every day for a year or more looking at pictures of India using Google Earth till at last, one long awaited day, he was able to see a picture of his home town. What a day that must have been! He deserved to be reunited with his birth family. Perseverance always pays off. Never give up.
Saroo’s adopted Mum and Dad made his life a happy one. I was deeply moved to read of their part in his story. They’d decided not to have children of their own – so they could instead adopt two children from India. A selfless couple. People impact people. For good or for ill. What kind of impact am I making today?
Ironically, Saroo’s remaining brother and sister had a better life because Saroo and his older brother disappeared. Saroo’s Mum had been abandoned by her husband. She worked very very hard doing back breaking work to bring them up. Four children were too many to send to school. But she could manage sending two to school. So the loss of two actually made life better for the remaining two. It made me realise that in every sad story, there is some good if we look for it. No part of life is totally hopeless. In the midst of the sadness of life – there also exists much good – especially when God is in the picture.
Several adults and one teenager did their bit in order to give Saroo a future and a hope. First his birth mother, who cared for him against the odds. Next his adoptive parents who lavished much love on him. The lady at the Orphanage performed no mean feat either; I applaud her. The Teenage boy who took little Saroo to his home made a huge difference; Saroo’s story may have ended in tragedy without it.
The involvement of all of those people linked together to give Saroo’s life a happy ending. His story touched a deep chord within me. And so, I ask myself a question. Whose life can I be involved in today? I am only human. I can never be all things to all people all of the time. But I can be faithful to the people God places in my path today.
Whom can I pray for today?
Whose life can I bless?
Whom can I share Jesus with?
Who needs my helping hand?
Whom can I listen to?
Whom can I encourage?
Whom can I love?
May God use us to bring hope to those who are ‘lost’ in our world; to bring comfort and strength and healing. And to help give their lives too a happy ending.
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbour for his good, to build him up.” Romans 15:1, 2
“And he has given us this command:
Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
1 John 4:21