A little two year old girl was found abandoned in bushes some days back in an upmarket suburb of Delhi. Severely dehydrated and malnourished the child was barely alive. It was later discovered that she suffered from cerebral palsy and that seemed to be the reason why she had been abandoned by her family.
The local police chief's words "Once she is better and if we can find her parents, she will go home. If not, we'll put her up for adoption and follow all the processes. If nobody wants to adopt her, she'll be sent to an orphanage," were ominous. Her family was not traced, no one came forward to adopt her and thus she was sent to an orphanage. The head of India's adoption agency did not mince when his words when he stated on national TV that no Indian parent would ever adopt a handicapped child! And sadly this is the reality.
The children dancing in the picture above are all what we call handicapped. Some have cerebral palsy, others have brittle bone disease, polio, autism or simple MR. They too could have been abandoned in bushes or simply thrown on the streets to fend for themselves as Manu was. In our country there is scant place for anyone who does not fit the mould. Special children as we like to call them are a embarrassment, an eyesore, a burden, a millstone no one wants. Society rejects them and even the administration does not seem to care. Parents would probably like to wish them away but lack the courage to do so. They are barely tended to, let alone cared for or loved.
And yet in spite of all adversities they not only survive but display a rare zest for life. All you need to do is drop by our special section. You will be greeted by squeals of joy. It may not be your conventional greeting, the one you are used to. It could be a grunt or squeak from one that cannot talk, am energetic hand wave from one that cannot walk, a hug or squeeze from one that has never been loved. You will be invited to join the on going activity or share a simple meal if you happen to come by lunch time. These children have never been taught manners or social skills, they are only proficient in God's Alphabet or what we call intuition and simply do what their hearts tell them do. They do not judge or gauge you in anyway. They do not care about the language you speak, the way you look or the size of your bank balance. They accept you as you are and simply open their hearts to you.
The have learnt not only to survive but to live life to its fullest if given a chance. Sadly we are not even capable of giving them that tiny chance. I wonder who is the one who is truly handicapped: we or them.
Everyday our special kids dance, it is probably the highlight of their day and each time I see them dance I am reminded of an anonymous quote I stumbled upon one day:
"We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams."