Adil is a normal teenager, except that he will never walk. His legs are withered, too weak to carry him. To get about he must crawl on hands and knees. He bears his fate cheerfully.
On the night of the gas disaster, the as-yet-unborn Adil’s family lived 200 yards from the Union Carbide factory, so close that his mother used to say it was miracle she survived. ‘I am so lucky,’ she’d say, little knowing what the factory had in store for an encore – a slower, hidden terror.
People living near the place had no idea that having killed their loved ones the factory was now poisoning their drinking wells.
Union Carbide knew in 1989, but said nothing. Its silence would last a decade.
Five years into that silence, Adil’s mother got married. Lucky again. Many girls exposed to the gases had serious menstrual problems and couldn’t have children.
By the time she was pregnant with Adil the water in the local wells had begun to smell and taste awful.
Held up to the light it appeared full of oily globules. If left to settle in a glass, a tawny layer formed at the bottom. This gloop was actually a cocktail of virulent chemicals.
Adil lives at the heart of a loving family. Sometimes the old people talk about Union Carbide and Dow Chemical. 'They must hate us,' they say. 'We did nothing to them, but first they gassed us, then they poisoned us. They said they were making poisons to kill insects, but it was us they killed. They do not say sorry and show no regret. We are no more to them than insects.'
For all that, Adil is lucky, because he lives protected by his family's love.
Update, June 2014
Adil succumbed to a sudden illness on June 13, 2014, leaving all those who knew him inconsolable. He thus joins the ranks of the unofficial, unacknowledged and unredressed. Each is a victim of the cruelty and callousness of a company which, rather than risk a single reduced annual dividend, chooses to allow Adil and others like him to suffer and die.
In contrast, the love Adil inspired cannot be corrupted, and will never abate.