Today is World Disability Day and I remember her most. I thought I had lost what I had written, but it is impossible to lose her…
She looked like a child. “Hiiiiii!” I could hear her greet the doctor when he went to meet her outside. The door to his consulting room was ajar. I could see her, a toothless smile and sparkling eyes. I had to wait until I got some reports, so I sat on the sofa near her. A cheery “Hiiii” greeted me too. I responded. Her mother helped the girl get up and walk towards the room. I could hear her screams, the doctor and her mother pacifying her. When she was done, she came out and greeted me with another “Hi!!” Her mother bent down to help her wear her shoes.
The assistant was asked to escort them to the door. The doc looked quite shaken. This was no child. She was in her late teens. He was an old family friend. He said, “She was a beautiful girl at one time, completely normal, lovely long hair, at all our functions she sang and performed the Bharat Natyam…this was one person I was keen to watch, to see what she would grow to be, such talent.”
Then one day high fever struck followed by convulsions. She lost her teeth, her sight and most of her neurological functions. She has regressed.
I did feel sorry for her. Not because she has regressed (I have seen worse sorts of regression), but because she has to start anew. She was not born this way; she has to take those tiny steps, utter words with care and live looking like a child. But guess what? She is coping. I could hear her stop the doctor with a, “One minute”, if he was hurting her. She could not see anyone, but she could sense human presence and acknowledge it. How many of us have the grace to do that?
And despite it all, no one could take away her smile. Just writing this makes my lips curve upwards. I feel like saying “Hi!”…hi to those reading this, hi to people I have hurt, hi to anyone I have not understood or who has not understood me, hi to those who are willing to wait, hi to those who want to go, hi to the painful memories, hi to precious moments that have come and will come again…and a silly giggly-wiggly hi to me.