by Ambika Ananth
All of them were standing in a queue at the ticket counter, colourfully dressed, they were looking excited, their eager faces showing a new happiness. They seemed free to do away with the school dress, their tender and shy smiles reflecting all their feelings, with tickets in hand, they followed the rule of the queue system to enter the ‘hall’, where the movie ‘Mr.Bean’ was being projected. During interval, they flocked the refreshment counter, a bit childish and excited, but their social behavior was in perfect order. Parents were asked to observe the social behavior of the children, which left them with satisfaction and joy. On the whole, it was an important milestone in the lives of these ‘special children’. The school management felt proud with the controlled and disciplined behavior of the wards and felt an assurance that, by way of introducing the children to the ambience of a theatre, to give them an experience of watching a movie, their idea to project a movie in the school was an absolute success.
Change of scene - it was a famous temple, people thronging with ardour and fervor. Huge sign boards saying ‘ maintain silence’, ‘please form queue’ remained mute spectators to the disorderly passion and devotion of ‘bhaktas’ who pushed one another, not caring for the age and gender of others. Children and elderly felt suffocated, but were left helpless, with the young and mighty bodied throwing their weight around, believing that they are more eligible to have the darshan. Temple authorities had no clue as how to bring in a semblance of order. God, who is always in a state of bliss, remained smiling at the chaos the supposedly normal people can create.
Change of scene – it was a park, full and vibrant with people. One old man was sitting on the bench – wallowing in sadness and loneliness, pained with his disability. No one seemed to care – but she came close to him, a ten year old girl, sat next to him and smiled at him –‘ are you sad’ she asked, ‘do you have pain’ she enquired- touched by her concern, the old man’s eyes filled to the brim. Before he could reply, a woman came searching and took the girl by hand and started leading her away – ‘she is a special child, need to get back to our school’- she told the shocked old man who thought that the child is the only normal one around with empathy and love in the right place.
One wonders if the normal people are more emotionally challenged than the so called mentally challenged innocent ones.