a moving lunch

Saturday December 8th was a very special day for a bunch of disabled kids, but more so for a very special young woman whose mother I have the privilege to be. A TV crew was coming to share their lunch.

The morning was spent in a frenetic bustle of cleaning, sprucing up, shopping and cooking. Everyone was excited and time seemed to stand still. Everything was set: the newspaper mats woven by the kids, the unopened lunch boxes, the freshly made aloo pharathas that were in the Saturday cooking class menu, and the project lunch of rice and dal that was always there for those who brought nothing.

Lunch has always been an important issue at pwhy's special section as we have always held that parents of disabled children need to be made aware of their responsibility and treat them as they would treat a 'normal' child. However the staff lunch is always there to ensure that no kid goes hungry.)

Finally a phone call announced the imminent arrival of the TV crew. What followed was pure magic, or rather the miracle we had all been waiting for since eight long years. For the first time ever someone from the world out there came and shared a moment with these beautiful kids. It is true that they have been filmed many times for diverse shows and programmes but in reality it has always been from the outside or the edge. This was the first time that someone, stopped by all the lunch boxes and served plates and dug into them no matter how cold and congealed and unappetising the food looked. The moment was so heartwarming that Geetu our 2o year old fed the young dashing anchor with her own hands.

The food turned to manna from the Gods or a three star chef's creation as years of yearning to be accepted and valorised laced it with a unique flavour no one could miss. Soon it was time to wave good bye and I too left the premises for another appointment.

It was only later in the evening when I got home that the true meaning of that day would enfold for me. A deeply moved Shamika asked me for the number of the TV producer as she said she needed to thank him. This was a first as Shamika is normally a reserved person. After many attempts she got the person and started thanking him but as she talked her emotions choked her, and she burst into sobs. It was then that I realised the real meaning of that lunch that almost did not happen.

It was like a dream come true for this young woman who at the age of 15 decided to work with special children and help them get their rightful place in society. A place where they too could be accepted and cherished. Lost in my own struggles I had not discerned how each rejection had touched my own child and how hurt she had been at each step. It also made me understand her initial reluctance at accepting this show. But above I became aware of how momentous the moment had been for her. I could not hold my own tears as I hugged her tenderly.

Today the kids are all going to troupe in to one of the teachers home to see this programme on TV. It is a moment I would not miss for anything!