Words do not come easily for 14-year-old Jatin when you ask him about his friendship with Arpit, 15. But there is a fondness in his eyes and after the initial shyness is gone, Jatin blurts out: “Arpit is my closest friend. We have been friends for the last five years.”
Arpit and Jatin are students of Prabhat Special School. The two share many things: their love for cricket, their interest in mathematics, their passion for athletics and the fact that they are mentally challenged. Everyone in the school, the teachers, the students, the principal, talk of their friendship.
“They sit in the class together, they play together and they go out of their way to help each other during their vocational training where they learn weaving, making envelops, and flower cutting, etc,” says Punita Buch, the principal of the school. Ask Arpit what they would do on the Friendship Day on Sunday, and he instantly looks at Jatin, with bewilderment.
Neither of them have heard of such a day, but, perhaps sensing that it is special occasion for celebrating friendship, Jatin, the more vocal of the two, giggles, “I will buy him a chocolate, he likes chocolates very much.”
Arpit is not sure what should be his return gift. “I will ask my mother what should I do,” he stammers.
Does he know when is his friend's birthday? Arpit is quick with the reply, “It was on May 22.” So, what gift did he buy for him? Feeling embarrassed at the question, perhaps even hurt, he answers, “I did not have the money.” But he sure had the desire!