Copy of Kamala's Death Certificate
S. P. Sarbadhicari, I.M.S.
'This is to certify that Kamala (commonly known as the Wolf Girl), a girl of The Rev. Singh's Orphanage, expired this morning at 4 a.m. from Uraemia. She was under my treatment for the latter part of her illness.
(Signed) S. P. Sarbadhicari Thus ended a life in our Orphanage, and there ended my study of her.
KAMALA'S advance from an animal existence to the rudiments of human life began with food. The knowledge of new things began with eatables quite unknown to her. Her taste for so long a time had only been for meat and milk, like the wolves in the jungle. Since she came to us, she had been eating and seeing new things, and her mode of existence in our midst was also new to her. She had been taken out of the life of the jungle and thrown into human society. Her former life and this human society were diametrically opposite to each other in every respect, and so Kamala and Amala used to get puzzled, and did not know what to do; that is why they attempted to run away several times. Human society itself was a novelty to them and disagreeable in every respect. The habits of the jungle life received a rude shock. These habits, however, persisted, but not having any scope for action in practical life, grew weaker day by day in the absence of animal examples and influences. Now they came directly under the sober and affectionate influence of human society in the Orphanage.
There was a terrible fight in their minds, and the environment and the circumstances bewildered them. As the habits of the jungle became feebler, the newly acquired ideas of the new environment established themselves in their minds, which had been in a passive state before. So long as their minds received these ideas, Kamala and Amala remained passive, though at times their former habits displayed themselves in the shape of anger or temper.
The result of this mental fight was seen first in the development of a sense of taste. Some of the new foods, such as biscuits and cakes, were the first things to attract Kamala and Amala. This was the beginning of the change that came upon Kamala, making her grow slowly as a human infant when her age was eleven years or so. The pleasure she derived in eating the new foods caused her imperceptibly and unknowingly to come under human influences, gradually and very, very slowly.
We have seen before that in order to get these biscuits, etc., a strenuous attempt was made by Kamala and repeated again and again to create a new habit in her, although she herself was unaware of this, namely, to straighten the knee joints so as to enable her to stand on her legs.
Besides the effect on her limbs, there was certainly a severe struggle going on in her mind as well. Kamala and Amala at first tried their best to free themselves from the clutches of human society and its environment. When their attempt to regain their former freedom was found impossible, they slowly began to give up that attempt and remained passive. It is a fact that when the body remains inactive, the mind works with intensity. Such was also the case with Kamala. She was an intellectual being, though she had been severed from an intellectual environment and thrown into the jungle with the wolves from her very infancy. She had not passed the limit of age when she could not grow. Her human life from her infancy had not grown, but had lain dormant. When the other life, i.e., the life in the jungle and its growth, had been arrested, the human life was bound to begin to grow as she lived in a human society and came under the influence of human examples from the infants before her. It can only be said that Kamala began very late and her progress, therefore, was very slow. She could not begin with a clean slate, having behind her her former experiences in her association with the wolves in the jungle and the acquired habits which had become second nature to her. She was not prepared to do all that she saw the children doing, yet the examples of the children made her ponder upon all she saw. Though at the outset she did not like Mrs. Singh's and the children's company, still very slowly her idea of pleasure in this company and a growing inclination towards it generated in her a liking for human society.
She came to love her new food, and from this to a liking for the person who distributed it was but a step. The human touch in the massage had an especially soothing influence on her to give up her ferocious animal nature, and developed in her in its place a sort of crude affection towards Mrs. Singh first of all. It did not stop there, as it does with the pets in our house; but since she possessed human intellect, she went forward to realise her existence in the midst of these children and their behavior towards her as examples to be copied in the long run. In other words, she commenced to grow in mind.
From the love of food and the affection for Mrs. Singh, she began to like other things. She gradually began to like the children themselves, to like clothes, especially the red ones, to like standing on her two legs as soon as her joints permitted her to do so. In this way came a knowledge of new things, under the influence of human society, friendship, and motherly love.
State of Mind
Kamala's state of mind was very difficult to understand at the beginning. She was virtually an animal. Only now and then could a flash of intellect be seen, as she had shown when she was at the mouth of the wolf den before her rescue: she looked this side and that, and then leaped out to follow the cubs. Amala also did the same.
Her first three years' stay in our midst only taught her to nod to say "yes" and to shake her head from side to side to signify her unwillingness, but she could not utter even a word. This nodding and shaking of her head correctly enabled us to understand what she meant, and never misled us. She always used to remain quite quiet, and except for these two signs she was mum.
All this goes to show that Kamala's mind was working and that she was growing in intellect like a human child of a year or so. The human brain cells in Kamala had lain dormant, permitting the animal brain cells to act and develop during those eight years of her life in the jungle. But now, there being no scope for the animal brain cells to act, they in their turn lay dormant, setting free the human side of the brain to act and develop; and thus Kamala commenced to grow as a human child.
Her mental state during this stage of her life among us may be explained as follows. Her state of mind, together with her other acquired jungle habits and activities, had received a rude shock and had come to a standstill. But the brain and the mind in a growing child can not remain inactive, and Kamala began to grow intellectually, and the inquiring aptitude of her mind developed in her as in a human child. Before, she could not utter a word; but her later ability to say intelligently a few words and speak them correctly goes to show that her mind had been working imperceptibly, and her intellect was opening out to understand human life and its environment.
Nature, or rather chance, had provided me with this phenomenon and offered wonderful scope for experiment and research in a line which would otherwise have been impossible. The lines are these, if I may be permitted to lay them down:
1. How much of human characteristics are "acquired" and how much transmitted ?
2. How much "sociality" was present in the character and habits of the individual per se?
3. What was the nature of the "human ancestor," a myth which anthropologists are at pains to reconstruct into a scientific theory?
As regards the first, it leads to the keen controversy regarding the relative importance of heredity and environment. If man is bound by heredity and predestination with only miscroscopic modifications possible due to changes in environment, then all constant endeavor for social betterment would lose all significance. But if, on the other hand, it can be proved that the environment predominates in the molding of character and habits, the laudable efforts of social workers would succeed in bringing into existence, if not the millennium, at least the near vista of a better world, which could be realised if we would only take the right path. The theory of social progress suggests that this view is more correct, and in the case of Kamala it is clearly established that the influence of her wolf environment was almost all-powerful, and even made her unable to develop those modifications of the human body required for human life, as distinct from the limbs of the animals.
As regard the second point, the discovery is of yet greater importance. The primary principle of sociality as is recognised by leading sociologists is "consciousness of kind," which, as Giddings defines, "means a state of consciousness in which any being, whether low or high in the scale of life, recognises another conscious being as of like kind with itself." Here is a conscious human being who defies the principles of consciousness of kind and of association. It is clear that Kamala and Amala were more interested in animals than humans at first.
As to point three, was our "apelike ancestor" who supplies the missing link like this girl? But this girl seems even more remote in the chain.
But we must not forget also that this girl Kamala is an artificial creation; and all her inconsistencies are due to a sudden change of environment to which it took some time to adapt herself.
It would have been impossible to realise and prove such a change if Kamala had not been rescued and carefully observed for nine years with a severe scrutiny as regards the facts and movements of her daily life in the Orphanage.
Kamala became a new person in the year 1928. She was an infant, so to say, of three or four years of age with reference to her growth as a human child, although according to my guess she was sixteen years old. It has been seen how her senses, power of understanding, and vocabulary developed. One would have been astonished to find Kamala, a growing human child, progressively developing all her human faculties, though so very late in life unlike the children at home generally. Untimely death cut short the fascinating study of the tardy development of this human being from a wolflike existence to that of a human being, retarded several years behind her true age. Now I leave it to you to decide between the two factors in human affairs, heredity and the influence of environment.