Monday, September 03, 2007

A Father's Son

He hobbles through the college dor at the turn of the seventh hour of the morning.He is there everyday,rain or no rain.The college has just opened.Students are flowing in trickles.Few people are bothered to have a look at him,some others consciously avoid him.His father holds him by the hand as he climbs the stairs.I never knew a boy so religiously wanting to study.He is not normal,I say.Yes,He is not normal.He is autistic.

I can only imagine the struggles he goes through everyday.To be unable to perceive things the way 'normal' people do;to face a struggle to even smile.To watch people tease you as a madman,understand it and yet being unable to reply them in the offensive.Going through that every single day,to suffer ignominy and yet face it silently.It takes courage,a whole mountain of it.I watch as his father coaxes him to climb the stairs on his own.I just can't help feeling sorry for him.But i know what stuff he is made of.To watch him wait for his son in classes,take his notes,help him study is heart rending even if you do not have a heart.

The bo hobb;es,literally,his legs twisted at vague angles.His face is masked in a smile,as though hiding his pain forever.But the pain is evident in his eyes.I tried not to stare at him,but just couldn't help it.His father noticed me and smiled.I muttered my apologies.His father waved his hand,"Oh!! That is fine.We are used to it by now." whether he meant it in a jocular way,i don't know.But that defined the amount of scrutiny that they have went through.I mustered enough courage to ask the father about the boy,I was not sure i would be able to communicate with the boy that well.His father smiled and said,"Ask him yourself". Looking at the awkwardness on my face,he decided to help me out.I watched as the boy,went through several struggling motions to spell out a few sentences in his defense.I smiled back at him.

The father was a far better speaker,and he answered a lot of my queries.Since the bell was still a quarter hour to go.I asked him if he ever rethought about the decision to put his kid through college.He smiled and said" Did you father ever tell you that you should better drop out and work??".I said "No". Then "How would I do that ?". Yes,how would he have done thata.But it would have taken a tremendous amount of faith in his father's ability and an amazing amount of patience to do it.Imagine the amount of unwanted advice,the number of neighbours laughing at your decision.Your relatives telling you it is a lost cause,your son is not 'normal'.Imagine the pain in the father's heart,the pain of his dreams shattering,the burnt feeling that is caused by watching his son sit at home while his friends go on to become doctors,lawyers etc.And knowing that your son could also have been that,if only they'd give him a little time and patience.

'Not Normal',aid the father is a universal term.It is used to describe a madman,an autist and a deaf or dumb person.As though they are abnormal.But aren't we all different?Aren't we all unique? Does the inability to express term a person normal or abnormal?Do we not all have different perceptions of the same thing? And are we not sometimes slow in grasping it?How,then,would you define normalcy?Having two hands,twolegs and every organ intact in your body and yet living on your father's income;is that normal? Or having a sever learning disability,and yet struggling to come to college everyday to learn, to compete; is that normal?I don't know.Nor does that father.But one thing he knows,and I know he knows,He will make his child study.He will let him know the world's stupidity.He will make an effort to prove his snobby relatives wrong,that his child is normal.He can learn,speak,write and read.Though a bit slowly,but he can.AND HE WILL.

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