HT’s Aneesha Bedi meets mothers of special children who have gained strength from the commitment to their children
‘My only goal is to make him independent’
For 37-year-old Nitima Chauhan, her son Daksh’s birth, brought celebration as well as heartache. An autistic child, four-year-old Daksh requires complete attention from his parents. Addressing the same, it was not long before Nitima gave up her job in Shimla and decided to move to Chandigarh for the welfare of her only child a few months ago.
“I realised if I wanted his condition to improve, I had to make extra efforts and sitting in Shimla, which is deprived of a good school for special children was definitely not the solution,” said Nitima.
Asked why she waits there for hours everyday and she quickly responds, “I feel at ease here and Daksh isn’t toilet-trained.” Nitima comes by auto from their rented flat while her husband slogs it out in Shimla to ensure the money is coming.
“My only goal now is to ensure he is independent,” she adds as she watches a rather cheerful Daksh write numbers on a piece of paper. “My day begins and ends with him and there are days when you wonder how I’ll sail through this,” she said. But a strong-willed Nitima prefers to use her energies in reading up online, researching on the subject and thinking ahead.
“People look at us with strange eyes but that’s their job. I’ll do mine and let them do theirs,” she said.
‘I get to keep her forever’
Bhupinder Kaur, 55, is mother to Mandeep, 30, and Jasmine, 33. Mandeep is married, while Jasmine isn’t. While the public at large questions this, Bhupinder has nothing to regret.
“Jasmine was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome when she was three and though it gave us a jolt initially, we accepted the reality and decided to give her no less,” said a smiling Bhupinder. While she has embraced her younger child’s limitations, she decided to make up for the same by loving her ‘extra’. She explained how the family initially never realised what was so different about Jasmine.
Regardless, Jasmine today has not only evolved into a multitalented individual, but has also won two medals at the Internal Olympics in Australia.
“She loves to sing, dance, draw, play badminton, and we have never discouraged her from any of it” said Bhupinder, who always stood by Jasmine even when family members felt letting her go out would mean receiving taunts from outsiders.
‘Disability is not a taboo’
“It is the most nerve racking thing when you cannot understand what your child is saying to you. You feel helpless,” said Happy Arora, 46, mother to 16-year-old Dhruv, who suffers from non-verbal autism. But that did not deter her from finding solutions, accepting reality as it is and moving on.
“Dhruv’s taught me that things happen, accept them and then move on,” she tells HT as she helps Dhruv, a die-hard music lover, play the piano. She says she gives Dhruv credit for her never-say-no attitude. “I learnt the importance of life thanks to him, and today I believe it is what helped us develop a good understanding,” said Happy, who worked tirelessly to ensure Dhruv was able to communicate his feelings to others.
“Be it stomachache, illness or discomfort, I have tried to come around by initiating actions,” said Happy, who received no official training but the sheer determination to devote all her time to her child, enabled this. Happy and her husband, very recently, who initially resided in Ireland, moved back to India, for their son.
“Although facilities and schools abroad are better, nothing can replace the love and warmth you receive from your family,” said Happy. “When we would come here for vacations, we observed how Dhruv would enjoy the presence of cousins and other family members around and that’s what made us take this decision,” she added.
The relatively fresh air, less traffic and suitable weather conditions for Dhruv made the family move to Chandigarh. “I have to keep Dhruv in mind before anything else,” said Happy, who quit her job to attend to her son.
“It’s not a taboo and the sooner we realise that, the better it will be for our children and for us,” said Happy.