A plush apartment with maple wood flooring, landscaped garden and a state-of-the-art kindergarten school. Life in Norway’s Stavanger city came with its set of first-world advantages.
But Abhigyan, 4, and Aishwarya, 15 months, are now getting used to living with their uncle and grandparents in a modest two-storey house at Kulti, in Bengal’s Burdwan district.
The two NRI children had been in foster care since May last year in Norway after they were separated from their parents — Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya — on grounds of alleged negligence. They returned to India on Tuesday.
A bitter year-long custody battle ended last week when a Norwegian court assigned the siblings in the care of their uncle Arunabhas Bhattacharya, who is playing a parent to the hilt — from playing with Abhigyan to feeding Aishwarya.
“When we boarded the flight from Norway, I was worried about how the children would adapt to a completely different life. But it has been a pleasant surprise,” Arunabhas told the HT team on Saturday.
“Abhigyan was suffering from ‘attachment disorder’. He had no idea what a building was, but now he plays with blocks,” said Arunabhas. “His favourite pastime, however, is to fill water in a bucket and throw it in the bathroom.”
Doting grandparents Ajoy and Krishna Bhattacharya have taken up the responsibility of teaching the children Bengali, their mother tongue. “Abhigyan now calls me Da and his uncle Ka. If you manage to convince him about something he will utter a soft ‘achha’,” said Ajoy.
While Aishwarya is too young to speak properly, Abhigyan knows a few Norwegian words. And his favourite word is ‘hade’.
“Hade means goodbye,” said Arunabhas while the child waved and shouted ‘hade’ to the HT team.