A pretty long one..but do read on..!!
Months before, when I was standing at one of those roadside stalls at pondy bazaar, I saw this girl, who with fear blanketing her face, was clinging on to her mom and was wading her way through the crowded pavement. As I saw her, I quickly recognized her to be that "different" kid, she wasn't a normal child. In medical parlance, she was a down syndrome girl. It was also immediately apparent - the features spoke the truth. Stunted growth, small eyes, a pressed in nose..
And what surged in me - a wave of pity and sympathy? No, its not just that...because I have been through more than just looking at such children. Suganti, I have known her long for now. She is 26 and is one such girl. My experiences with her have been more than revealing of certain very very pertinent truths, which most of us "normal" humans fail to realize, in our mad race to lead sufficiently "meaningful" lives. Sugi, is brilliant. She studies in a special school, takes part in almost every co curricular and extra curricular activity, and not just that, but comes back overflowing with prizes. And what could be most priceless, is her joy and pleasure, in showing them all to you.
At 26, if someone could be innocent, its only possible in her case. Sugi loves tamil mega serials. I still can recollect how she used to literally dwell in "Chitti" world. She would recount every episode with fantastic precision even today, and holds that special, and innocent liking for "chitti". The love and compassion that she holds for someone who is very dear to her could drive you to tears. She loves my dad and I can't forget the day, when she sobbed in silence, sitting at our balcony, just because she discovered all by herself that my dad was ill because he wore a sweater.
At 20, she would love all those things that a teen would love to possess in her wardrobe. She would fancy the earrings that I would wear, the mobile phone that I have, the glasses that I have. She would insist that she wanted a pair of glasses like mine and she hated hers. And talk about her craze for watches, man! its mind blowing. She loves every other watch in the world except hers.
She would beautifully correct her idea of what is happening in the lives of transition of the people around her. When I was in Pilani, she gave me a title, "Mr.Pilani" and that is how I used to get addressed. Never was it 'Anu'. Later, when I passed out, she made the change in her mind's register; I was then in Bangalore, and she would remember exactly where my hostel was situated. And I was back to being addressed as 'Anu'. I sometimes call her movie dictionary; she would just see a scene from a movie and would promptly narrate the entire story, probably give you the name too and if you are lucky enough, you get to hear a hit song from the movie too. Her only problem remains that she can't register what she learns.
She writes beautiful tamil and would dutifully clip sheets of paper to a writing pad and copy paragraphs and paragraphs from a tamil newpaper or tamil weekly, with perfect clarity. All this accompanied by those long syllabic 'aaaaaaaa', 'vaaaaaaaaa' 'nnnnnnn' 'avan..' and then the next word. There have been numerous occassions when she would wonder, when she would ever get past her twelfth and then go into college ("REC trichy", she mentions) and finally land up in a good software job in "Wipro" for a salary of 30 lakh rupees per month!!
Those times, I would feel a surge of helplessness in me and a strange kind of anger on God, as to why he ever did that to her. So many dreams and ambitions packed in her and yet crippling her from not able to achieve that..what kind of a punishment was that? She would laugh and suddenly cry and try to speak some english sometime..Well, why all this? I wonder what little world of dreams Sugi carries in her mind, which would probably never see light. But, beyond all that, she would hope and hope and hope, that her day isn't far off.
Having said all that, what is it that I am looking at? I believe there are lessons to be learnt from everyone. As we run everyday, chasing our so called dreams, we forget some human elements that sadly lack in most of our lives. We forget compassion for fellow humans, we lack the ability to emphatise with someone who suffers and we hardly speak nice words to those who mean most to us. Sugi would care immeasurably for those she loved and would pray earnestly for their well being. It is amazing how we could call that mind, problematic. Life isn't all about scientific functioning. It has a human element, by all means and that is what is ultimately what everyone looks out to, than your material well being.
The second important point is how we land up complaining for trivial things in life. We are immensely blessed, we are what we want to be, we can think and act the way we want and feel socially secure, in many ways. We don't have strange eyes staring at us when we walk down roads. We escape those rude mumbles which some meany mouths would talk when such a kid walked down the road.
The other day, I was talking to Mythili patti. She wished earnestly that I covered a programme staged by differently abled children, at the music academy on 22nd february. "The programme would not be professional. Nevertheless, it is good to see that they are capable of all that they manage to do," she said and she broke down. I felt a lump in my throat. I only hope I could go and write a story on the event. More importantly, I pray I continue to emphatise with such children and their beautiful minds!