In the last week of January, at the physiotherapist's, I met Ananya for the first time. First I heard her voice, small and sweet little girl I reckoned, but she was asking questions and there was this air about her that hinted maturity.
I heard the caring voice of the physio as she said with a little mischief, but no departure from love,
"Anu!...humein jaldi jaldi exercise karni hain ....February end tak humein chalna hai na? .....kitne dinon se hai tu yahan par!.....mujhe pareshan kar diya hain!"
"We have to exercise and get well and start walking by the end of Feb,you have troubled me for so long!"
And then I knew she couldn’t walk. It didn’t strike me as anything sad right then but I was little curious. And then I saw her as she tried walking, her both hands held by the physio and she took small steps. She was 7 years old I think, round chubby face and had her hair tied in a little ponytail, and had big black eyes. I was looking at her and she was trying to walk. She was looking down at her legs (they had no sign of any deformity, btw) and then she looked at me observing her. And she smiled and blushed and turned down her face again. As in the case of a little child who is rehearsing her first play on any stage, for the first time when she says her dialogues and sees people listen to her voice, she feels a little sense of joy and giggles in her heart. The same feeling i saw in her eyes.
And then seconds later, the fact that she was completely oblivious of her incapability struck me like a heart attack. She is not sad right now. And thank God for the fact that she is so small that she doesnt mourn her incapability. Sits in her own little world uncaring of other children who run and play. Maybe at some level she is sad that she cannot walk, but not as much as a grown up is when he can't walk.
And like a Marathi poet had once said, I am reminded to pray to God to give me back that childhood, when i cared so much less.
I thought, later in her life she will understand things and realise what she had been through. Will enter a new life when she starts walking ......and everything will be alright. But as a grown up maybe she will repent about that time when she couldn't walk and run while others very well could. And also feel very good about herself, that she could come back from some bad place and achieved something greater than others which cannot be quantified, and is her very own power for life.
A month ago I had to go there again. She was still there. I heard her crying a few cots away.......and I had no answers.
I see a great gulf. Some people suffer and suffer and suffer. Others balk in amazing physical well being. Of course they worked hard to stay fit and exercised daily. But what about those who were "born with it" ?
For how long Ananya will not be able to walk, no one can say.
I read somewhere that every man is an end in himself and that his goal in life should not be tangible gains, exactly, but to get to that point where he has poured his best effort and spirit in his life's work.
And then I think everyone has been allotted a certain quota of pain and suffering, of health and all the rest of the things. That pot will be filled in the due course of your life, sooner or later; in installments or in continuity? Nobody knows! But it blesses you with a unique point of view and value of simple things of life. It is your obligation, so long as you live on this earth to face, perform , and achieve despite of everything and whatever that lies for you in your own path.