‘We are all happy now!’ Mrs K announced as she burst into my Clinic one fine day.
Mother of Mani (name changed) a mentally challenged 32 year old girl with a 5 year old’s behaviour and a 7 year old’s intellect. They had been coming to me since the past one year. Mani was diagnosed with her problem when she was a child. She has an older sister who is normal, married, working in a Bangalore based company and has two children. A ‘normal’ life.
Mani has been going to a special school since the past 20 years. There she is taught basics of self care, interactions and handicraft. She has learnt to make a lot of interesting craftwork, files and folders, rakhees, Diwali gifts with diyaas. On one clinic visit she had even gifted me 5 rakhees. ‘This is for you!’ She said with her simple style and her eyes looking into mine with a gentle staring smile. Fair and pretty. No one would guess that there was any kind of problem with her at all – Until she spoke. The incongruence would strike you then. The quiet mature face and the childlike tone and content of speech; and the fixed gentle stare of the eyes. It was routine for the family when they travelled anywhere, that people would assume her to be ‘normal’. And after some time they would notice things and then the parents would be asked the eternal question, ‘Is something wrong with her?’
Years passed in apparent coping mechanisms. They were counselled. They went to doctors and special educators. They were advised to explore her potentials and to push her to try her best. They were urged to put a square peg in a round hole. Be strict with her, teach her manners, she can do so much more! Integrate her into the society! Make her try harder! She can improve even more!
Somewhere along this route the parents lost the sense of what is and started thinking of what can be. They forgot the facts and started running after a fantasy, where they started imagining their pretty young daughter living a near ‘normal’ life. When others saw her normal countenance and thought her to be normal, they too became hopeful. The word ‘normal’ haunted them. It became their dream. It became their mission. And so, the years went by. This lovely young girl became a lovely young lady, going to a special-needs school; and the parents continued to hope. They hoped with all their illusions. They tried various measures, giving her different herbal preparations and following random advices. They hoped and waited. And in their eternal wait the shadows of sadness crept over their hearts. They kept on at their dream project, alternately bumping, like the bumping cars, into blind hope, lack of progress and unexplainable emptiness. And on the way somewhere, sometime, they forgot to love her as she wanted to be loved – like a little child.
Until one day, just after Mani came back from her special school and was narrating in excitement her fight with her classmate, Mrs. K, looked at the young lady of 32 years and saw the innocent, lovelorn, five year old within. She froze in her tracks, she barely heard her chatter as it dawned upon her that the child needed love and not just reforms. The child needed to be accepted with all her blemishes and imperfections – with her challenged intellect, whatever it was. We all have these moments when thoughts strike us, when ideas hit us with a force. This was the mothers moment of realisation. And for some time she thought she would collapse under the sheer force of this. She stumbled. And yet managed to climb the first step – of acceptance. She hugged her daughter and cried, first time in many years, releasing all the tears tied up like sheafs of dried leaves inside her.
‘We are all happy now!’ Mrs. K declared to me in the clinic during the next visit. ‘I have changed my attitude. Mani also looks happy with my change. I love her as she is. A sweet little girl who wants to be loved and cared for. I am OK if she doesn’t improve. She is already exerting herself beyond her capacity. I don’t care about NORMAL anymore. I don’t insist that she should fit the society’s norms. When she comes back from school, I ask her if she is tired. I have found that very often she IS fatigued by all her extensive activities. I hug her everyday when she gets back. She loves that a lot. I see that in her eyes.
I have found peace. And I think, so has she. ‘
There were a few frisky tears in her eyes as she spoke.
‘I have accepted her. Finally!’


2 thoughts on “Acceptance

  1. lucky mrs k…
    i watch my daughter grow day after day….
    enjoying every day with her…
    every few days the thought haunts me that i will never be able to relish these moments again ,as she grows……
    hoping time stands still and my princess stays as happy as she is now..enjoying the smallest of things and shares the same with me…..
    isnt mrs k blessed …now that she has accepted mani ……no wonder she is happy!!!!


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