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The little boy smiled charmingly through the evening just before the surgery.His young parents were dumb with fear about the impending operation the next day when his tiny pelvic girdle would be realigned to enable his almost atrophied limbs to move. With bright lovely eyes that focussed on your face and an ever willing capacity to smile and respond, he was not at all afraid as he did not know what awaited him. Because he was born with cerebral palsy having lost supply of oxygen during the last moments of release from the protective world to the outside.He  could not talk or move…but he spoke to you through his expressive eyes and look. If he wanted the light or fan switched off he would move his eyes in that direction.If he knew that his mother had put his monthly pension that is there for the differentially challenged in the cupboard , he would gesture to his father that it has been received. He would laugh at certain jokes and show with his frail hands and fingers how to eat a chicken leg and do exercises for the hands and neck.

I met him in the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College hospital, a few days before his surgery. I was bound to a wheelchair after an accident that had injured my feet. Since his arrival, he became the sunshine of my life. An unknown yet deep bond developed between me and the little boy,much to the surprise of his parents and grandparents. Our communication and his smile made light the heavy tension that had developed in the room after the date of surgery was announced.With a fast beating heart I sat by his bed trying to muster up courage as the nurse searched for  a vein to insert a catheter. He  co-operated but refused to smile for hours. My stories and attempts to make him smile failed. But on the night before the surgery, he laughed loud when he saw me coming in the wheelchair. All through the night I heard him cry occasionally.Unable to move on my own, I lost courage to see him before he was taken to the theatre.

He seemed to me an envoy from another world. From his parents and the little boy,I understood that he had deep reserves of perception about the world and people around him. He refused to accept the sympathy of others, silently turning his head away. If a person came and referred to him as the boy who is ill, he would protest and cry. He hated loud noises and conversations, arguments and heated talk. In his silent,yet strong way he demanded peace and harmony. He showed his appreciation for spicy food by eating well. He showed his love and affection for his pretty sister by looking at her for long. Her calm and tender attempts to make him happy put him at ease. In a sense, he directed the attitude and culture within his small home. He loved music and jokes. He wanted his parents to talk softly and lovingly. Or else he would cry out as if in deep pain.

Yes, he was a real messenger of peace and harmony. When the whole human world seemed to be in chaos, this child with cerebral palsy showed extreme and subtle rays of love and concern. He put  all effort to ensure that his family which could have easily slipped into a dysfunctional state because of him stayed sane and happy.

What more does one want from a child..who smiled through the tears, who stood the operation with incredible fortitude that reflected his will to cope up with his disability, who listened intently for the softest sounds of wind and rain, his mother’s sighs as she held his body and his father’s ever wet eyes as he cared for this “treasure”.

This experience threw light on what real disability is. If ability is to fight and compete, to hate and kill, to insult and injure then he  was certainly disabled.But if ability is to love and care, to make peace and harmonise, to smile andshare,then he was the most able boy in the world.

Bidding goodbye to him as they left after a partially successful operation was the most painful parting in my life. After 2 weeks he came back to hospital and smiled on seeing me still in the wheelchair.His eyes that brightened up on seeing me, the smile that spread across his lips..that seemed the best healing touch I could ask for…We sat for a while, he in his special wheelchair and me in mine looking  out at the green trees and bill boards that had been our life’s frame for months. His name, my Surgeon  doctor Chief wrote meant “ The messenger of God” took the communication between us to deeper levels. Thank you, dear one for being the sunshine of my life.

Written in December 2016 but seeing light on October 6th 2019 when I read that today is World Cerebral Palsy Day. Remembering with love and appreciation his young parents and grandparents who are still sparing no effort to keep him smiling and comfortable.

Anitha.S( anithasharma2007@gmail.com)


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