to be able to walk

When asked about a fantasy to be a superhero, one of the children said: “to be able to walk". This was one of the conclusions of the recently held workshop where children had been asked to express their opinions, dreams and aspirations. The respondent in this case was little Radha who suffers from brittle bone disease and whose condition has been deteriorating day after day.

An eerie silence pervaded the room as we all knew that little Radha would never walk. For what seemed an interminable moment we sat quietly, as we gathered our thoughts and tried to come to terms with what we had heard. We were in a place where neither miracles nor dreams were permissible. There was no reprieve, not even a glimmer of hope. Every day Radha's fragile bones looked more and more distorted.

Yet Radha has an infective joie de vivre. She also has an insatiable desire to learn and wants to do everything her pals in class do. Just like any child she wants to live life to its fullest and yes if she could be a superhero she simply wants to walk.

For the children in this picture dreams and aspirations taken on a new meaning altogether. They are not of the realm of the impossible, they simply aspire to reclaim that little part of their life that fate has usurped. Some simply want to walk, others to hear or just understand the world around them. They do not ask for much and yet we are helpless and powerless.

However we can give them is love, understanding, moments of happiness and above all acceptance. But how many of us do that. We simply cringe at the sight of one like Radha who sits awkwardly on her brittle and jutting bones and instead of gently gathering her in our arms simply walk away.

During the same workshop Preeti who walks on her hands after a bout of severe polio was asked to photograph a few of the things she disliked most. On top of her list was garbage. Sitting in our comfortable homes we may wonder why she thought so. The answer is simple. For Preeti and Radha who walk on their hands or drag themselves around, garbage is a every day reality that is uncomfortably close to them. They cannot hop over it and do not have the luxury of bypassing it. In slums you often live amidst it.

If you were to come and spend some time with the kids you see in this picture you would be overwhelmed by the love and joy they are ready to give in their own special way. They open their arms and hearts to anyone who accepts to enter their world. They never ask for anything and keep their desires and hopes locked away safely. It is only in rare moments that they share them just like Radha and Preeti did hoping that someone will hear.