People. It’s always about people. And sometimes it’s about children who are more grown up than adults.
No matter what your stature or status in life, no matter how rich or poor in material terms, real enrichment is because of the people who touch our lives – some good, some not so good and some utterly magnificent and unforgettable. And their impact isn’t simply because of the length of time they spend with us or even their age – it is who they are! Obvious yes? Not really. Let me explain –
Many years ago, in Mumbai, I started volunteering for an organisation for children with Cerebral Palsy – I worked both with the children and their parents. And here I came across ‘Anand’ (name changed for privacy reasons).
Anand was a quadriplegic – he had just a torso and no limbs but his brain was as sharp as razor. His eyes shone with intelligence, mischief and mayhem and their were times when I would have to discipline him like any another ‘normal’ child. But what is ‘normal’? Simply because someone or something doesn’t fit into society’s parameters of what ‘normal’ should be doesn’t make them abnormal. Nobody has the right to call them that! But I digress – let’s get back to Anand.
So this little imp Anand followed me around in school, he called me his girlfriend 🙂 – shuffling about at speeds you wouldn’t believe! He would reach out and pull my hair – whenever I would sit down next to him – with the little stubs he had (no hands), so much so that I would yelp in pain. The smiles never left his face and he made me smile too, all the time! His exuberance and joy was something to behold – that he could find ways to laugh, in circumstances so dire, was amazing and humbling.
Anand lived in abject poverty, in slums. His mother would bring him to the organisation, every single day – never losing courage or hope. His father wanted him out – wanted to leave him out on the streets – to fend for himself. It was his mother who stood courageously by her son. Both mother and son experienced abuse. There was a time when I saw cigarette burns on the child, put there by his own father. I cannot even begin to express the pain and horror of it all…
I thought – I was the one helping them – instead I came away, learning from them. THEY helped me. THEY taught what real courage was, to be happy no matter what. To always BE Grateful for what I had.
ANAND – Wherever you are, I hope you are well and happy. I will never forget you. My life is all the more richer for having spent time with you.
(Previous blog: The Glass Wall http://www.painauchocolat.blogspot.com)