I'm going to a children's court in a few minutes. Here's why.
A couple I know well took a train from Chhattisgarh, where they work, to Bombay 3 days ago. On the platform in Bilaspur before the train left, they found a man waiting for the train too, with two girls, perhaps 6 and 3. He was calling the younger girl Muskaan, which is a name the woman I know likes, so she spoke to him, remarking on the name.
Turns out he's from a village outside Bilaspur, but works as a security guard in Kalyan. Had four kids -- oldest a boy, then these two girls, then a boy again. They stayed with his wife in the village while he worked in Kalyan. A while ago, the wife absconded with another man and their youngest son. He asked his brother, back in the village, to take care of the kids. Brother said he didn't want the girls, took the oldest and has gone to Gujarat to work making bricks.
This man had no choice but to bring the girls to Bombay. But he lives in a shed with 12 other men, which is not a place for two little girls to live. Some "madam" in Bombay had offered to take the girls from him and pay him Rs 1 lakh. This is what he was planning to do.
The couple was aghast. Don't do this, they said. Get to Bombay and we'll see what we can do there.
They got off the train two nights ago, unsure if the man would call. In the meantime, they got in touch with a shelter we know well, where they take in homeless or street kids. The person in charge said they could take in the girls. But would the man call.
The next morning, he did call. That evening, the couple went to Thane, met him and brought him and the girls to the shelter, in Andheri. The rules are that he has to appear with them in front of a children's court and make his case for why the girls can't stay with him. If the court issues an order in his favour, they can move into this shelter, and he will come visit them once a week or so.
I haven't yet met the man and the girls. Now I will, as I go with them to the children's court with fingers crossed.