The news was like a bolt out of the blue: Shalini was leaving the centre. In her own way had tried to convey this to us a few days back; we just thought she was going off for a few days to the village or a wedding like so many times earlier. But this was not quite that. Her family had sold their house and bought another one in a far off area and so Shalini would not be able to come to pwhy!
For all of us at pwhy, and particularly for her teachers and friends in the special section it was a great shock. Shalu is one of our oldest students and somehow an integral part of this very cherished class. Her warm nature, her even warmer smile, her incessant blabber, her passion for dancing, her eagerness to help , her genial disposition, her fond hugs had become part and parcel if our lives and are going to be painfully missed. True that she had temper fits and bad moments but even those had become dear to us as they were part of who Shalini was.
As we all set down to come to terms with her departure it almost felt as if a chapter was closing for us. Something yet intangible had come upon us and we all knew that things would not quite be the same.
Shalini's hurried departure also brought forth another reality that sadly pervades the lives of children with disabilities: they are never part of important decisions that families take and their well being is never a mater of concern. Shalini is in her thirties but to her family she is unimportant. The area the family is shifting to has no option for her and she will now be relegated to the confines of her new home. She will lead a lonely life and become more difficult to handle. And sadly there is nothing we can do.
It is a times like these that I realise how important it is for us to set up planet why as that would be a happy option for persons like Shalu. I do hope that it will become a reality soon!
PS: just heard that Shalu could no quite fathom the meaning of the farewell party as she was convinced she would be back the next day.