Thursday, 9 May 2013

An Experience - part II

I left my last post saying I lacked the ability to put into words how I felt after I spent half an hour with a group mentally challenged adults. I'm gonna give it a shot now.

Its pretty clear that I was speechless. Well it was because I was experiencing mixed feelings. I was withdrawn by the fact that the people I was dealing with were adults who were devoid of the usual mentality. At the same time, I was overjoyed by the sight of their happiness when they were painting.

Continuing with my story; While I waited for the others to return from their lunch, I saw a child of perhaps 3 years of age. She was unable to stand, so they had strapped her a board and made her stand against the wall. She did not speak. All she did was swing her arm a bit. Her head was bent down and she was drooling. I went near her and touched her little hand. She immediately grasped hold of my finger. I was so taken away at that point. As she held my finger and tightened her grip around it, I realised that all she wanted was compassion. And is exactly what she was receiving at that institute.

When the residents of the institute returned after their lunch, I took on another group. This group consisted of three males. I was not able to gauge their age. I started painting with one of them, in the same manner as I had done with the previous group. The person I was working with was highly enthusiastic. Even when I moved on to work with the second person, he was refusing to let go of the brush. But the best part was he kept repeating that what he was painting was really good and very much to his liking. Secondly, he referred to me as an older sister.

The second person was very calm and not interactive. It was upon my insistance that he actually took part in painting. He barely spoke. All he did was repeat a couple of words which I uttered in emphasis. The third person didn't want to do anything apart from looking at us paint. He did laugh once or twice which I believed to be a sign of being entertained.

How I felt at that moment is so hard to put into words. Ironical, isn't it? Well it was as if at that moment all that existed in the world was me, those three unique men and our happiness.

After that, a kid approached me asking for help with his painting. He looked about nine years old. I sat down with him. The manner in which we collaborated was much different from how it was with the adults. The children don't want to be spoon fed. They have a sort of inner confidence that they can do it. I found this factor so surprising. The confidence that most people lack is so abundant in this children who are underprivileged.

After completing each one of their art pieces, the children would show it off so proudly. I admired this quality of their's. They were so fearless of being judged. You might say that their mental challenges is what allows them to feel like that. Even so, it is a respectable quality.

I helped the child with quite a few paintings. Soon as I was done, we had to wrap up and leave. We had taken photos of us working and were just taking the last few shots to add to our album. Suddenly the child I was working with came up to my friend who was taking the pictures. Devoid of speech, the child pointed at me, then himself and then the camera. It was pretty clear what he wanted. I was elated by what he just asked for! I had spent probably less than an hour with him. Its such a nice feeling when you are able to connect with a person over a very short period of time. We had our photo taken and we took off.

Through out the journey back to my college I kept thinking of the past few blissful hours that I spent in Navachetana institute. Those few hours are probably one the most happiest and overwhelming hours of my life till now. It was an experience that made a permanent imprint in my life. An imprint that I will treasure and try to deepen over the next visits to Navachetana.

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