I dedicate this article to all the lovely parents of children with special needs. Special needs include medical conditions, developmental delays, psychiatric conditions, physical impairments, and genetic disorders. Every parent goes through their bouts of victories and challenges, good days and bad days, rights and wrongs, to-dos and not to-dos while bringing up these children.

In the initial years, while I was inducting myself into space of special education, inclusion into the mainstream didn’t seem like a distant dream. Thought these children will eventually immerse well into the system like how a stream gently merges with the river, only to prove me wrong later on in life.

We humans are social beings. We need to belong, we need friendships, and we feel the urge to bond with one another. It’s very disheartening to see that children with disabilities are just not a part of our significant mainstream.

I would like to quote five of these important learnings of my life, which in my journey as a mother of a very beautiful child has taught me:

My heart aches when I see my daughter stop by to see girls of her age happily chatting and playing with one another. She waits for a minute to see if she’ll be considered too; but alas, no one actually cares. She has no friends at all…But the girl knows how to bear it all, unlike her mother whose heart immediately breaks. As I look at her; she seems to be saying:

Lesson 1:
“In my loneliness, I learn the ways of the world….. It’s not bad at all”

As she sees a toddler in the park, her eyes widen in amusement. She knows she won’t be judged. She is lavish with her cuddles and love. But the child disappears into mother’s arms after a while and the girl just looks on…She says:

Lesson 2:
“Now is most precious. Be in the present”.

She travels in a school van with 8 typical children. She is different and so is deprived of the snacks that other girls happily share with each other in the van. I see girls with a big pack of lays and Kurkures happily singing, eating and making merry. I know she hasn’t been given a single wafer till date and she doesn’t complain. Should I sponsor for all I ask! The girl proudly refuses …. Says: Amma, it remains the same, no matter what you do! She means:

Lesson 3:
“Don’t live your life impressing others… In the end, people will judge you anyway”.

It’s 11:00 pm and I get back home after a horrible day at work. Immediately, the lights get brighter, the kitchen gets its aromas and there she is, my little girl – laying my dinner, when everyone else at home is asleep! Cuddles and hugs follow through with a long-pending gossip session. Mom is her world!

Lesson 4:
“The best feeling in the world is to be with someone who loves you as much as you love them. Nothing else matters. Surround yourself with positive people”.

Her little brother is her favorite. I would say, she is his first mother. Such is the unconditional love and support she showers on him. Lucky are we to have such a beautiful soul in our lives. Her gifts, her snacks, all go to him, without an ounce of expectation. Just pure and so selfless I must say. She indicates:

Lesson 5:
“Love is an unconditional commitment”.

Now I wonder if there is a place for such rare, gentle, precious souls in this polluted, adulterated world. As I set out with my new Center for development, I only hope I’ll be able to take them to a dreamscape, where love blossoms, where there is abundant friendship, no hate or remorse. Only happiness! They so deserve it.

This reminds me of Kishore Da’s song: So simple…. Yet so profound!

“Aa chal ke tujhe main le ke chalu,
Ik aise gagan ke tale
Jahan ghum bhee Na ho aansu bhee Na ho
Bas pyar hee pyar pale”.

Ultimately, every individual deserves a right to live with dignity, respect, and pride. Isn’t it? That’s what we at Chiranthana have set out to do!

Yours truly,

Rachana Prasad