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Festivals of Midnapore District
Festivals of East and West Medinipur (Midnapore)
Books on Midnapore (Medinipur) District
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The Diary of the Wolf-Children of Midnapore
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Economics of Mat Industry - A study of P.S. Sabang, Midnapore
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Anselm Beaumont - Bangal Merchant (By Dr. P A K Covey-Crump)
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Life of an English Memsaheb in India in the late 19th Century (By Rajeswari Chatterjee)
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LAL JAL Rock Painting
 
 
 

The Diary of the Wolf-Children of Midnapore

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The Reverend J. A. L. Singh -  Missionary S. P. G. Mission and the Rector, The Orphanage, Midnapore, India

Written by The Reverend J. A. L. Singh
Missionary S. P. G. Mission and the Rector
The Orphanage, Midnapore
Midnapore, India.


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These are Singh's diaries, as also published in Wolf-Children and The Feral Man .

 

Chapter XV
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Nature November 18, 1924

IT has already been noticed that Kamala did not like to stay outside the house at night, but we could not be certain that she was afraid to stay out at night. Now I wanted to find out whether her fearless nature at night had undergone a change. On this day, we carelessly left Kamala outside, and the inner compound door was closed. She had come along with us from the field, but some smell must have attracted her instinct to run in that direction, and we had not noticed it. She tried her best to open the door by force, to get in, but failed. Then she commenced howling, but we took no notice. Then there was a lull. I came out and searched for her all over the compound and found that she had got into a haystack. I waited stealthily to watch her. I found that every time the dogs barked, she stealthily uttered a shrill cry and peeped out, coming from her hiding place a bit, but did not come out to the door. She again ran into her place of shelter and concealed herself. This went on for some time, and I understood that she was extremely frightened.

To verify this fact, I called her; and Kamala, instead of shunning my company, now sought it, and jumped out to come to me. I talked to her kindly and took her up and carried her inside. To all appearances, she was very much pleased. When I dropped her down inside the inner compound, she commenced moving towards the dormitory and closely watched to see if I were following her; whenever I stopped, she also stopped and looked back. I followed her to her bed, and Mrs. Singh attended to her with motherly affection.

October 6, 1925

Kamala always urinated inside the room, or wherever she happened to be at the time, as mentioned before. On this occasion, we noticed a change. She got up and went to the dormitory bathroom to pass urine. After this, we found that she always did this whenever Mrs. Singh or myself happened to be present; at other times, she invariably did it inside the room as before.

September 27, 1925

At this period, between the year 1925 and 1926, Kamala's taste for food changed a good deal. It was noticed that her taste for salt developed gradually. She had never liked salt. On this date, it was noticed that one of the children asked for salt, and Mrs. Singh gave him a pinch; Kamala was watching while taking her breakfast. Mrs. Singh asked Kamala if she too wanted some salt; she did not say anything, but simply looked up at her in a peculiar manner, which was very difficult to understand. However, Mrs. Singh wanted to find out what she meant and feigned to drop a pinch of salt in her plate. Kamala, after tasting, found that nothing had dropped, and she looked up again. This time Mrs. Singh understood clearly that she wanted salt, and she actually dropped a few grains of salt onto her plate. Kamala was very pleased and hurriedly mixed those grains of salt into her food with both hands, one after the other, and showed great satisfaction in eating it.

It should be mentioned here that her greed for meat, both raw and cooked, remained almost the same as mentioned before.

December 19, 1926

It was noticed that Kamala stealthily ate raw meat, somehow managing to enter the kitchen.

Summer, 1926

Kamala's behavior at her bath had changed a good deal. We have seen that Kamala at first did not like water at all. But now, during the summer of 1926, she had become somewhat tame at the time of bathing. True enough, she refused to come to the tub or reservoir, but when water was taken out of them and brought to her, she used to handle it just like a baby at its bath, playing with water taking out water from the mug with the palms of her hands and spilling it on the ground and on her body here and there.

Showing Temper at Repeated Questions

Her behavior showed a good deal of change when she began to understand our language a little. Whenever she was asked anything, if she liked to answer she did so; but if not, nothing could induce her to reply, and she would turn her attention to something else, or go away. This was the case before, but now with the progress of her power of understanding, she commenced to show her dislike by facial expressions, from which it could be distinctly understood that she was getting annoyed by intelligently following the drift of the question, i.e., she had become conversant with our mode of conveying our wishes by our expression in words. She had begun to understand language.

January 20,1927

On this date she was asked to come out with the babies to the maidan, but she did not show any willingness to come, and remained rooted to the spot. Mrs. Singh went to her several times to persuade her lovingly, but she did not move from the place where she was. When this persuasion was continued for some time, her face changed color, showing that she was getting annoyed at the repetition of the persuasion. She was left alone, and she remained where she was for nearly two hours all by herself. After this, she quietly moved from the spot and went into the dormitory. When the dinner bell was rung, it was found that she was quite calm and sobered down. As usual, she came out and presented herself to Mrs. Singh with the babies. Dinner was served and they all commenced eating.

Courage or Fear

As noticed before, both Kamala and Amala never had any such thing as fear in them. They were never afraid to go out at night; rather they liked the darkness of night better than the light of the day.

May 29, 1928

But now things changed a good deal. Kamala did not like to go out at night. This was noticed on the twenty-ninth of May, 1928. It went to show clearly that now the animal courage of Kamala had disappeared in her sober human state of mind.

May 7, 1926

When she got angry she used to forget herself so much that the loss of courage was not at all visible. She would do that which she dared not do when she was sober. This was noticed on the seventh of May, 1926, for the first time. This change of nature developed gradually to that of a timid human child of six or seven years of age.

Irritation

When Kamala was weak, she used to get irritated very soon; but as her health got better, this irritation disappeared. She became a sweet child and very obedient. Whatever she was asked to do whether she could do it or not she always followed the children in attempting to tackle it, and was always ready to engage herself in action; but if she failed in her attempt, then she used to be very cross and glum.

July 17, 1928

We took all the children and Kamala to the maidan in the morning and heavy rain came on. We all got wet. The children could not run as fast as Kamala on all fours, and we had to lag behind and get wet. Kamala ran in quickly, but came out again to meet us; this she repeated several times to find that we could not get in with her and were getting wet. Kamala got irritated to such an extent that when we came in long after Kamala had gotten in, we found her in a corner; and if any of the children went to her, she waved her hand roughly at them to drive them away.

August 10, 1928

Kamala wanted the swing before the others, but as Mrs. Singh had one child up on the swing and was swinging her, Kamala could not get the swing to herself; and she got so irritated that she did not come to the swing that whole evening.

The swing was a novelty to her, and seeing the cat swing from the branch of a tree and the babies made to swing by Mrs. Singh, she was so attracted to the swing that she got actually irritated, and became so headstrong that she gave up the idea of swinging that evening.

It appears from the above and other facts that Kamala's temper was getting modified from the animal idea of pleasure and ferocity to that of human enjoyment or displeasure, resulting in a mild and modified form of conduct.

It was found at this period that Kamala commenced to take pleasure in certain things which she liked, one of these being the pulling of the punkah of her own accord.

In spite of occasional irritation, her progress towards the human side of her being advanced but slowly from the previous stage of her life. During her nine years' stay with us, she came to a more normal state of humanity, as will appear more clearly later on.

Conduct towards Animals and Men

It could be clearly seen from her life that her animal courage was giving place to human timidity and that she was being attracted to the novelties in her life, such as the swing, etc. All this clearly showed that the dormant qualities of humanity were commencing to grow. All that had been so long animal was now giving place to what was human. This was the crisis in Kamala's life and being. She was a learner now and not an animal with the wolves in the jungle. Her taste, too, underwent a sharp change, as noticed in her liking for salt, which she did not like before. The only defect that remained in her was that she could not run even like a child of two or three years. Her progress in other respects was quite visible, but with regard to locomotion, it remained without any improvement after she learned to stand.

June 10, 1923

The task of making her stand on her two legs like a human child took several years. Kamala first stood on the tenth of June, 1923, but could never run, although we tried our utmost to get her to run on two legs like us, at least like a baby of two years old.

On all fours she could run, but not when she was upright. It is my surmise that if the locomotion of her legs had taken a visible change, then her progress in habits, taste, and inquisitiveness like a learner would not have grown at all. This defect in her legs gave her the opportunity to grow slowly as a human child.

Eight years' stay with the wolves, and in that animal environment and circumstance, meant that she had been brought up as an animal with all the modifications necessary to adapt herself to such a life, even though they were impossible for a human child in human environment and circumstances. These became to her a necessity, and she became an animal to all intents and purposes, without developing the human side of her being.

These human faculties, both in body and intellect, were quite dormant during those eight years from her very infancy. To make her a human child again meant a strong fight with the acquired habits which had to be thrown away and omitted altogether. When she came to that stage of life in association with us, then only did it become possible for her to begin this human life, that is, she had to begin life from her very infancy over again.

First of all, her dislike to all that was human presented itself in a very strong form, as we have seen before, and then gradually and very very slowly, it changed into a liking, and then the pleasure in that liking attracted her to new things and actions so that she acquired new knowledge and new practice to the making up of a different life altogether. All this came to pass during her stay with us during those years from 1920 to 1929.

Kamala standing up for the first time
Kamala standing up for the first time

Before this, she used to love everything animal, but now a change came over her, brought on by different means coupled with Mrs. Singh's affectionate and motherly nursing of her and the presence of young children for her example. All these played a prominent part in making her like a human child.

These children and Mrs. Singh's practice of massaging her played a wonderful part throughout these nine years, and led to a progress towards the human side of her being which could hardly have been expected at the beginning.

Her association with the animals, such as the kids in the house, gave place gradually to a liking, first of all for Mrs. Singh, and then for the children themselves. This was the turning point. The intellectual changes and the perceivable effects on her mind of various sorts of pleasures which gradually interested her, helped to influence her body also.

Heat or Cold January 29, 1926

As noticed before, climatic changes at first had no effect on her. Like an animal, she did not feel cold in the depth of winter, but on this date, it was found that she liked her blanket, as she did not throw it off at night. After this, she could be covered up with her wrapper both in the morning and evening, like the babies themselves, and she did not object to it as before.

The change of clothes in the morning and evening was a signal for her to go out for a stroll in the maidan, like the babies. She used to be very glad at this time to accompany them. In these strolls, she sometimes walked on her two legs, and sometimes when she wanted to go faster, she would go either on her knees and hands, or on all fours.

June 18, 1927

She always preferred red clothes to those of any other color. White color she did not like at all. She used to pick up her own clothes from among those of the children when placed in a heap after they had been washed and dried in the sun. She picked up all her clothes in this way for the first time on the eighteenth of June, 1927. This happened in the following way. The clothes were washed in the morning and put out in the sun. They used to be collected in the afternoon, and the children had to collect their respective clothes and take them for ironing. Kamala, finding them thus busy, took a fancy to collect her own frocks, etc., in the same manner. At first she could not find all her clothing, and the children helped her; but gradually she managed to get them all right, and if the children meddled with her in so finding the clothes, she used to get wild.

 

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