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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 .


Their bath was a very difficult task, and it took a long time to train them to it. They never cared for baths, even in the hottest summer. They would drink water very well, but did not like to have a wash at all.

Courage at Night

In the animal world we find that many animals leave their den at dusk and prowl about the whole night in search of prey, their food. It is just the opposite with mankind. They are awake the whole day and do all they have to do. But as soon as night comes, they generally confine themselves to their homes and pass the night sleeping. They get up early in the morning to follow their daily routine of life.

Kamala and Amala at first belonged to the animal world in this regard, for they were bred and brought up as such. Kamala, eight years from her infancy, and Amala, for a year and a half, had lived like animals. They were practically animals in everything; so much so, that they purposely chose that very period when mankind feared to be out as their time of activity and wakefulness. The twenty-four hours of a day are thus divided between men and animals by God's sanction and approval.

The animals hide themselves during day. They are not to be seen, nor to be heard during the day. It is their time of fear, misgiving, and danger. They are sought out and hunted during day. But night brings them peace, coupled with animal courage, ferocity, and a craving to satisfy their appetite. And thus, as the day is for man, so the night is for the animal. The whole creation is thus divided to suit both mankind and animal. The power of animal vision is also regulated accordingly. At night, man is cowardly and blind, while the animal sees at night and is courageous.

It was possible for Kamala and Amala to be separated for a little while during day, though reluctantly. If they were frightened during the day, when they happened to be close to one another, they would come together at once. But when they happened to be at a distance from one another and failed to come together, they used to hide themselves separately. At night, they always kept together and were not to be separated at all.

At night they had no fear at all. They knew that all were asleep and would not come out. So they felt themselves quite free from all fear and used to move about inside the courtyard freely and boldly.

February 21, 1921

If they could get out at night, as they did once on this date, it was noticed that they had no fear at all. They were found prowling cheerfully in the open, extensive field round about the Orphanage compound, after they had made us play hide and seek for them that night from 11:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. It was then found from their movements in hiding and running away that they were not at all frightened in the darkest night.

Chapter VII
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Emotions October 23, to September, 1923

WHAT emotions could they have? They never laughed. Although Kamala had a smiling face, the emotion of joy was far from it. I never saw her laughing or smiling, during the first three years from the twenty-third of October, 1920, to September, 1923, except for the external signs of joy or satisfaction in her appearance and bearing seen at the time of eating, when they were very hungry, and especially when they got meat by chance. They ate and drank, and the joy or satisfaction was that of an animal. They were pleased that their appetite was being satisfied, nothing more than this. Unlike human pleasures and joys, theirs were confined in a very narrow circle, while those of mankind are extensive, circumscribed by time only. When they went with us in the open field, if they could perchance get away from us a good distance, which gave them the assurance of freedom, we could see them stealthily moving about, and at times, playing between themselves: running about, jumping on feet and hands, looking at one another in a different manner altogether. All this spoke of a peculiar joy among animals only.

January 17, 1921

All this was noticed on the seventeenth of January, 1921. It proves that they detested human company and association altogether.

September 21, 1921

Kamala shed tears a drop from each eye was seen trickling down her cheeks only at the time when Amala breathed her last on the early morning of Wednesday, the twenty-first of September, 1921. Beyond this, emotional faculties were dormant, and not appreciable.

Affection or Attachment

They would go to Mrs. Singh when hungry, or when thirsty, as mentioned before.

March 18, 1921

On this day, they were in the compound in the midst of other young Orphanage children, and a cow suddenly got loose and ran into the garden close to the children. The children all ran away hither and thither hurriedly. But Kamala and Amala ran to Mrs. Singh, who was standing a little way off from the place where the children were. Later, both had come to her in the same room, though not at close quarters, but at a little distance, shyly and timidly, waiting there for some time, looking at her stealthily, and going away in the same manner as they had come. This was very significant their coming to her by singling her out among others in the whole house, in their own way, as far as their animal life permitted them, speaks of their gradual attempt to associate with her only. This attempt was first detected on the eleventh of January, 1921.

In time of illness, they always looked for her, as if they found some solace in her nursing. They used not to suck from their bottles, if presented by any other person; when they got a bit stronger, they did not permit anyone else to nurse them but her. They used to be restless when any other person went to nurse them, but quietly permitted her to do so.

November 26, 1920

A girl, Parul by name, was sent on this day to give them the bottles. Kamala refused to take hers, and Amala did not open her mouth to receive the nipple and lay with her eyes closed. The girl reported her failure. After this, Mrs. Singh went in, coaxed them a little, and passed her hand on them, one after the other, and each one accepted the bottle.

These are the signs of a growing feeling, approaching human affection. Affection in this world is able to work wonders, if we have the divine patience to co-operate with it. Affection tames the pets in the house the cats, the dogs, and the birds. It is affection that comes out to meet its object, to bestow a love gift unknown to it before, and thus gradually prepares the way to attract it to a stage when the object realises that it is wholly dependent on this, rare affection. It is affection that binds one to submit to another, that binds a brave heart to a coward, a higher being to a lower creature, a noble to a slave, a man to an animal, and even an enemy to a bitter foe. The essence of human life is nothing but affection. This is represented in filial affection. The wolf-children looked for the same affection which they found in the mother wolf (in accordance with their crude animal nature) from their very infancy. That sympathy, or affection, or kindness, they were searching for among us, but they could not trust us at the beginning, and hence the delay in their progress in cultivating the human faculties.

This fact, as a sublime truth, was opened out to me in my study of Kamala and Amala from the year 1920. It is through the agency of affection that we could develop their dormant human instincts to grow, just as in a child from its very infancy. It is fhe mother's love and kindness that paves the way of future growth of manhood. The child submits to his mother blindly because he knows that his mother loves him, and he can trust her. So, then, Kamala and Amala could not trust us, could not be sure that we bore affection to them, and the resulting delay in understanding and believing this fact delayed their development and progress in human life.

Affection, as I had understood hitherto, was a misconception of reality and was superficial, because I saw it between equals, or between a higher and a lower grade in mankind. Although I noticed something of this between a higher and a lower order in creation, between us and our pets in our own home, yet the full realization was not there. I could not see it as a great truth, the aim of creation. We have pets in the house, and what is our relation to them? Our relation to them is simply to please ourselves, and not them. We feed them because we derive some pleasure for ourselves in so doing. We watch them or talk to them because their attitude and movements please us. Our whole bearing towards our pets is simply for ourselves and our pleasure. This is one-sided and selfish. The pets, on the other hand, do not accept this superficial kind treatment as genuine very readily when they are made to associate with us. In the first place, they cannot trust us that we could be their friends. Secondly, their nature and ours are diametrically opposite. It needs patience and tact united with love or affection as the major factor to tame them. It is easier with the young ones, but wholly impossible with the grownups.

The pets do understand us much more than we think they are able to. It is in our houses we teach them insincerity and build them up to grow and mature in it. In the jungle they are simple, and sincerely ferocious, which is already known by their species and kind. To wish the jungle beasts to be tame and to be our companions is beyond our expectation, from the very fact that their nature and ours are quite different. And again, their animal instincts are developed to such a pitch in the animal environment that we have no idea. You can easily tame a young animal or a bird from its very infancy. But the grownups behave just as described above, and that is due to the difference mentioned therein. On the other hand, animals have no human instincts to develop at all.

In the case of Kamala and Amala their human instincts were all lying dormant almost in a subconscious state. To face this difference in human or animal instincts with a view to make the desired association possible, is a very difficult problem. Nothing in this world can solve this great problem except love, in any of its forms.

In the case of Kamala and Amala the great difference was that their animal instincts had had all the opportunity of developing as such, i.e., all that is required to live that life even the modifications of the limbs and the body took place in order to adapt them to the requirements of living a wild life. Kamala and Amala are proofs which cannot be denied.

The first thing necessary, then, is to place them in a position in which they can gradually understand us and trust us. It is very important that they should know that our attention to them is genuine, and that we are sincere in our dealings with them. Kamala had been living with the wolves for eight years and Amala for one year and a half. In Kamala the conditions were formed and set. To change them and to develop the dormant human instincts in order to adapt her to associate with us was very difficult.

To attempt this change means a good deal more than we do really understand. A close analysis of the cases of these wolf-children will show how difficult it is even to attempt it. It is only possible if you can create a liking in them for the change so desired. To create a liking means you must make them understand that you are their well-wisher, and that you love them sincerely. Unless and until that is understood by them, you cannot make them associate with you and they cannot accept you as their benefactor. By showing your genuine affection to them, you make them realize it in their own way. The understanding turns them from aversion to friendliness. As they grow in this knowledge, they grow in that relationship of attachment. This knowledge expels the distrust, which alone stands as a great demon to destroy the incoming awakening of all finer feelings, and thus cruelly blocks all the doors of learning.

In the case of Kamala and Amala, it took nearly a year (from the fourth of November to the twenty-first of September, 1921) to create in them a liking to associate with Mrs. Singh. This very clearly proves that affection only could bring about the beginning of the desired change, so very anxiously awaited.

In the animal world we understand by taming, a sort of friendliness between them and us. There they stop in their life, on account of diversity of nature in their inheritance of instincts from their ancestors. It does not grow after this stage is attained. But the case of Kamala and Amala is quite different. They were human children, and they inherited from their ancestors the human instincts, in addition to the normal animal instincts found in a human being. They took such a long time to come round for a change because there was mistrust lurking behind in either case. So long as they could not find a sincere, pure, and free affection, they refused to grow in humanity. They could not see the import of being a human being till they came to know that Mrs. Singh was their trusted benefactress.

Chapter VIII
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Kamala and Amala were accepted as children of the age of a year and less than a year respectively, although their ages were guessed to be eight and one and one-half years. They were to be dealt with as infants of those ages. They had no language, 1 and their nature was wholly that of an animal to all intents and purposes. They had cultivated the animal nature and condition of life almost to perfection in the animal world. To change that meant to change an acquired, and so far, a permanent habit, which was not so easy for them. We failed to understand them practically, as we had had no experience like them. But this is certain that they had to undergo a good deal of hardship and inconvenience in their set habits to permit such a change to come about.

 

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