Yesterday, when I boarded the train, I saw a mother and child sitting in the seat, with the mother giving a chocolate to the child. The child must be about 4 years old, he had an instrument attached from his the back of his t shirt to the lower part of his head.
I realised the child was differently abled, by the way the mother was talking to the child. The child was insistent on removing the cover the of the chocolate by himself. She gave in but he couldnt remove it completely and started using his teeth. She then took it from him and he hit her on the face. She didnt react but told him very very politely that he didnt do the right thing. He caught his ears immediately as if to say sorry and handed over the chocolate to her and asked her in sign language to remove it. She told him again ‘Say Mama, remove’ He didnt, he pointed in sign language. Again she told him. This went on for about 6 times, before he said ‘Mama, open’
And the lady’s face broke into a smile, which I wish I could have captured and bottled up to look whenever I am upset.
Eventually the boy got bored of sitting and came near me. He looked at me.
I said ‘hello’
He smiled shyly.
I asked him did you like your chocolate
I said ‘no tell me yes or no’
He nodded and smiled.
I said ‘tell me, did you like it, yes or no’
He mumbled something.
I said ‘Can I have a tiny bite of your chocolate?’
He pointed to his tummy and said in sign language that it was already in his tummy.
I said ‘give me from your tummy.’
He pretended to ignore me.
The mother said ‘see what aunty is saying V, will you give to aunty from your tummy’
The boy started laughing loudly. A gay loud laughter which comes from the tummy which makes you realise what happiness is all about. The kind of laughter which only a child is capable of bringing out, from the depths of his stomach.
And then he started picking his nose. I told him, please dont do that, its not a good habit.
He smiled and continued.
A lady next to me asked (very insensitively infact) whats that device on his head.
I looked at her aghast and just mumbled ‘he is not my child’
The mother looked into her eyes very matter of factly and said ‘Thats an hearing aid. He has speech issues and I am just getting him back from his speech therapy classes’
The woman I think realised she was being a bit insensitive.
I asked the boy ‘Where are your classes?’
He pointed to his mother, and instructed her to tell me where his classes were.
She named a suburb which was very very far away from where we were going. Do you go there everyday I asked. No, twice a week, but it seems pretty effective, as long as we continue to talk to him in one language and insist he replies back however he can.
I said ‘thats great’
Meantime the boy showed me his umbrella. A black one with white polka dots. It was pouring outside the train. He pointed out and then indicated that he uses the umbrella in the rain. And asked me where was mine (all in sign language)
I said mine was in the bag. He asked to see it. I looked at his mother. She nodded. I said ‘ask me what you want’
He smiled and pointed his umbrella.
I said ‘I dont understand, tell me what you want to see’
This again happened 5 times before he pointed to his umbrella and mumbled ‘ella’
I took out mine. He laughed again. And I told him his was much prettier than mine.
HE immediately said yes. The look on his mother’s face was priceless. She smiled at me.
When their usual station came, he pointed to his mother that he wanted to get down. I was astonished that a kid so young remembered where they had to get down. But they were coming a bit further, since his mother had some work.
HE got angry and started picking his nose again. I said dont do it beta. His mother tried to remove his hand and he hit her again. My first reaction was no, dont hit your mother. He looked at me angrily, and then his mother. His face changed. He again held his ears as if to say sorry.
Then I got up and said bye to him. He looked at me, smiled and screamed ‘Bubyeeeeee’ and I think it was the happiest moment of the day for me. He then pointed to my umbrella and said ‘up’ as if to tell me to use the umbrella when it was raining. I think that was the point I choked up a bit.
I wanted to write this incident down because the next time I crib about life, I know there are so many parents who undergo so much for their children. His mother was the epitome of patience I think!