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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 .

 

When the loincloth was lying on the floor near her, a mischievous girl, Sisir Kumari by name, said, "Kamala must wear the 'langoti,'" meaning the loincloth. Kamala, on hearing this, got very much annoyed and quickly took up the fragments of the loincloth and ran out on all fours as quickly as she could, and threw them out at a great distance from the dormitory.

January 1, 1925

On this day Kamala was found talking to herself; she would talk as she went along or when she stood near a tree; she would talk to the tree; when inside the house, she would talk to the wall; and when playing with the toys, to the toys themselves. It was found out that these were not talks directly to those things, but simply a jabbering such as children are in the habit of making when at play to represent some circumstance or household matter which had impressed itself on their minds, without any particular intention or motive.

Year 1927

At this period of her life with us, Kamala made quicker progress than an average child in learning things and expressing them in words. By the year 1927 she could make us understand what she wanted by broken words, or signs, or by both.

January 14, 1927

To us it appeared that she was getting accustomed to words and small sentences, as is generally seen at home with prattling children. This was noticed for several days, but was definitely noticed on the fourteenth of January, 1927. It was found that her broken words gained distinct and clear utterance, and it was clear this practice of babbling added many more words and sentences to her vocabulary.

February 20, 1927

She left off this habit from the twentieth of February, 1927, and took up the habit of singing the words in her own way. From now on, for some time, she was in this singing mood. Whatever she was doing, she was always singing some words or other and was never quiet. At times, she used to be so much occupied with this habit of humming a word that she became totally inattentive to our call to her when she was wanted. Sometimes she used to be so much absorbed that we had to approach her and take her up by her hand, and only then would she stop her humming.

March 9, 1927

It was noticed at this time that Kamala joined in the singing in the service. In this singing mood of hers, she used to disturb the singing of the hymns very much. At times, she used to shout at the top of her voice in a shrill irregular note.

March 12, 1927

Kamala, as a member of the Orphanage, was a pet of all. All the children loved her very much, and everyone in the house was ever ready to help her in any way he or she could, and she became accustomed to accepting such help occasionally, but not always. For instance, it was noticed on the twelfth of March, 1927, that Kamala could not tie the string of her pajamas, although she tried her utmost. She began to cry, but no one attempted to help her, as she did not want anyone's help in this. Most probably she was afraid that the children would take away her pajamas. Mrs. Singh she trusted, but since she was out, Kamala could not get her to do this job. She quietly came to me in the office and stood behind me, without my noticing her. Hearing a rustling noise behind me, I turned round and found that tears were rolling down Kamala's cheeks. I at once became alarmed, left my chair, and approached her. I found that she was holding her pajamas in both her hands. I could not understand what was troubling her. Just then, a girl named Manica, finding that Kamala had come to me to have her pajamas tied up, came running to me and told me all that had happened and how Kamala had not permitted her to tie them up. I understood the whole situation and asked Manica to tie them up in my presence immediately, and not to take away her pajamas. Kamala was highly pleased at this order of mine. When the pajamas were tied up, she smiled and went along with Manica. Kamala in her bearing at this period made the children understand that what she thought or did was all right. She did not permit the children to undo anything that she did.

March 17, 1927

On this date the children were playing with their toys; Kamala appeared on the scene and watched them playing for some time. There happened to be several red toys (dolls) and several wooden and tin toys of different colors. She quietly began collecting all the red dolls from the line in which the children had arranged them. The children were annoyed and made a clamor, and ran to complain-to Mrs. Singh against Kamala. By the time Mrs. Singh could come, Kamala had removed the toys to a corner in the next room, and stood there. Mrs. Singh came and found their line broken, and asked who had done it. Kamala came out and stood there, but did not say anything. When the children complained, pointing to her, she simply began to move to her corner; Mrs. Singh followed her, and when they approached the corner, Kamala herself pointed to the toys heaped in that corner. Mrs. Singh thereupon patted Kamala and said, "Oh! you want all those red dolls. Very good, I will get you some new red dolls. Give these back to them." Kamala at once obeyed, took the dolls to their line, arranged them just as they had been, and left the place with Mrs. Singh. She did not leave Mrs. Singh's company till the bearer was called and the order for red dolls was given; then she appeared to be quite happy.

Her red dolls came, and Kamala took them all to her corner, and covered them with a piece of cloth and went away to the kitchen to Mrs. Singh.

Now Roda came to sweep in the room where Kamala had kept her dolls in the corner; she did not know what to do because she had heard all the quarrel about the toys. She came to Mrs. Singh in the kitchen and asked her about the dolls in the corner. Kamala heard this went straight to the corner to see what Roda had done to them, and was coming out

when Mrs. Singh met her at the door. She called Kamala to come with her and she followed quietly. Mrs. Singh gave her a small wooden box, and affectionately told her to keep all her toys in it. Kamala obeyed, and when she had finished collecting them in the box, Mrs. Singh came in and praised her for being able to put them in so nicely. Then she suggested that she keep the box in her almirah? Kamala appeared very pleased, and quickly took up the box and carried it to the almirah, and Mrs. Singh locked it up. Kamala was extremely happy, and went along jumping on all fours.

Kamala immediately went to the children and called them by making signs with both hands. The children came running to her, and she took them to the almirah and struck at the door of the almirah and said, "Bak Poo-Vo," meaning "Baksa Pootool-Vootara" in Bengali ("Box Doll-Inside" in English), and moved about on her hands and knees inside the room.

May 5, 1927

The children fought among themselves, and there was a great feud among them, and Kamala was watching them from a distance. I at once took my gun, and began to go towards the garden, whistling to the dogs. Hearing the dog-whistle and finding me going towards the garden, they all ran towards me, and Kamala followed them leisurely. As soon as the gun was fired and the report was heard, Kamala was seen running on all fours very fast towards the kitchen where Mrs. Singh was seated, and tried to hide herself behind her. All the children forgot their quarrel.

May 23, 1927

The children of the Orphanage used to collect the eggs just after their school was finished every day. Kamala had been noticing this for some time. On the twenty-third of May, 1927, before the school bell rang, Kamala got into the poultry house and closed the door inside. At four p.m. when the school was dismissed, all the five children whose duty it was to collect eggs that day came running towards the poultry house, but found the door shut from the inside and began to push it till the door came off its hinges. Mrs.. Singh, hearing the noise, came to the spot; and Kamala, hearing her voice, came out of the poultry house. We thought Kamala must have eaten all the eggs that day, but when Mrs. Singh at once got into the room, followed by Kamala, she found the eggs heaped in a corner. Mrs. Singh began to praise Kamala, and told her to collect the eggs every day with the children. Kamala was highly pleased and walked about like a great hero who had gained a big victory.

June 19, 1927

When the poultry door was opened by Mary, she found a fowl dead; she told Mrs. Singh, who came along to see it. As she was going with all the children and Kamala, one of the girls whispered to another, saying that if Kamala could get it she would eat it. Mrs. Singh frowned at her and said nothing. When the dead fowl was brought out, Mrs. Singh patted Kamala and mildly asked her whether she would eat it; Kamala at once shook her head from side to side and said, "Na, Na, Na."

The fowl was kept somewhere outside to see whether Kamala would take it away. No, she did not touch it. The fowl lay there for three hours, but Kamala did not look at it. Then the fowl was buried in the cow-dung heap.

July 13, 1927

It was noticed for the first time that when Kamala was passing by the dogs at the time of their meal, they began to bark at her just as they always did at other children at such a time. Kamala took fright and went a roundabout way, and did not come near the dogs at all.

This showed a peculiar change on both sides.

August 4, 1927

Five dog pups were brought to Kamala by a girl who mischievously placed them in her lap as she sat squatting on the ground/Kamala showed great temper and began to throw the pups from her lap. Before this, she had a great affection for such things.

September 14, 1927

Some meat was put on the dining table in the presence of Kamala to see whether she would steal and eat the meat as she did before. The meal lay there for the whole day, and Kamala did not care to steal or eat it.

 

Kamala throwing the dog-pups from her lap
Kamala throwing the dog-pups from her lap

Now Kamala used to come regularly to our morning service and sit or kneel in a line with the children. Before this, she used to be brought in, and she liked to sit separately by herself, and the children used to call her "heathen."

October 29, 1927

It was noticed on this day that Kamala did not go to market when all the other children went. She stayed at home with Mrs. Singh. After some time, she felt very restless. She commenced walking backward and forward from the front door of the Orphanage to the gate on two legs. Mrs. Singh approached her and affectionately asked, "What, Kamala, do you also want to go to market?" Kamala looked up into her face and said "Hoo," and tears rolled down her cheeks. Mrs. Singh consoled her in many affectionate words and promised that she would take her to the market, and the other children would remain at home. The affectionate words and the promise satisfied her, and she was jolly again.

December 3, 1927

Kamala learned to identify herself with the children. On the third of December, 1927, she was standing at the dining table when the table was being laid for tea. Mrs. Singh, finding her there, gave her a biscuit. She ran to the children, and all the children flocked round the table, expecting to get a biscuit each. Mrs. Singh scolded them for thus coming in before the tea bell rang, and one by one they all left the dining room. Kamala, finding that they had gone away without a biscuit, put her biscuit on the table and went away. The biscuit lay there till the tea bell rang. After the bell, all the children congregated and were given two biscuits each. Kamala took only one biscuit from Mrs. Singh and picked up the one she had left on the table.

Chapter XVIII
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Kamala's hast Illness

Throughout the year 1928, Kamala went on learning and practicing, practicing and learning, as the case might be, and grew in mind and in human character.

Unfortunately now, her health deteriorated a good deal. The doctors failed to find out the cause of this. We got very anxious about her. We strictly followed the directions of the doctors and gave all the nourishing food they recommended and the medicines they prescribed, but Kamala's health did not improve.

At this time, we received an invitation from the Psychological Society of New York, U.S.A., to bring Kamala to America. The Lecture Bureau were prepared to accommodate us in presenting Kamala before the public and to describe with the photos her rescue and her life in our midst since then.

The doctors could not agree to this proposal of taking Kamala there in her state of health, and we gave up the idea altogether.

Kamala fell ill on the twenty-sixth of September, 1929. All the doctors in the town attended on her and carefully treated her from the very beginning. She suffered for a long time and got very weak. During her illness, she not only could talk, but talked with the full sense of the words used by hex.

One incident may be cited here: During this illness she was being injected twice every day. This was the only treatment the doctors in consultation suggested. This treatment began from the third of November, 1929.

One morning Dr. Santra gave her one injection; she opened her eyes and saw him. This was on the fourth of November, 1929. In the afternoon Dr. Sarbadhicari came and gave her another injection. After the injection she was asked who gave her that injection. At first shutting her eyes, she said "Horn Babu," meaning Dr. Santra. I asked her to open her eyes and see who the doctor was. She opened her eyes and looked and instantly said, "Na, Sachin Babu," meaning Dr. Sarbadhicari.

This clearly showed to what extent her intellect had grown, that she could clearly distinguish the one doctor from the other. This surely was a marked progress in her life towards manhood, as reclaimed from the ferocious temper, wild habits, and the completely different being of an animal, to all intents and purposes.

Kamala the wolf-child thus lingered in her last illness and gave up the ghost at four a.m. on the fourteenth morning of November, 1929.

 

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