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Mirror of self-discovery in pandemic

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DR. VIBHA CHAHAL
A mother first ,once a doctor, now an IAS officer

It would be visibly over simplistic if I say that I have found it. I am basking in my own glory with the disillusion that I have blissfully appeared to maintain sanity over these past few months. Until a serendipity occurred which made me grateful for the duration of this pandemic, absolutely not regrettably. The discovery happened when all the unnecessary luxuries got overlooked in this humdrum, when I had absolutely nothing novel to consider.

I realised that my 6 yr old son who is an autistic under remission, has been living this lockdown since the time I threw him out in the world to live and learn by himself- not vice-versa. His learning faculties are not that well developed and he cant express very clearly his emotions to me. He cant tell when a boy pushed him or called him names or when the teacher ignored him or when he felt left out because everyone could perform with ease like a breeze or that he was looked upon in different ways and lot of other things. He can only keep these things to himself because he lacks the concrete barrage of vocabulary his peers already had when they started to walk. Before I am judged as a bad parent, I would tell you that I always reckoned, its imperative he starts digging up his ways to survive in this world and thrusting him in one of the best schools only alleviated my anxiety. And of course, I have done the best what any parent would do. Yet, some affairs have to be put in sub-conscious to survive. But it jolted me to see his face when the wrath of online classes was unleashed, almost on the verge of sadism, as if an act of vengeance against parents. And I woke up from my slumber.

To diagnose is rather simple. To deal with the intolerable symptoms is the real torment. What I saw on my son’s face was anything but confusion; it was havoc wrought, the pain of killing those hours staring at screen, not able to decipher an iota of the injunctions this fast-paced, mechanical, completely apathetic computer screen had to tender- just expressionless, hollow, confused eyes stretching to eternity in the war against that screen. It appeared a struggle for me to earn the responses from him. Was it really? I was only frustrated. It was my son who was really struggling. I never had to register peer pressure or the gulp the insult felt at not responding to the teacher’s queries in my perfect life. I guess distinctive kids never do.

Is it God’s way of coming back at me? Wwhat do I do now- with something that transformed every bit my life and as I, sometimes in moments of desperation, viewed as ruined? Now, God didn’t lash me the hardest way. My son did. He forced me into altering and amending myself- how I viewed him and his prospects in life. He stretched my boundaries. He made me turn around from the wrong pathway I had started to tread. Then I tried and I learnt- to respect him, understand his boundaries and expected things from him within his boundaries, to encourage him. Guess what? He respected me more. He slowly started expanding his boundaries. It revealed to me that I could get anything from him if I would just be his partner. He still struggles in many ways, but he has learnt to name his struggles as hard work. And I have no words to that could collate how wrong I have been proven by my own child. He had no expectation from himself because I didn’t tell him that he is different and special and unique in some ways which are different from the specialness of other kids.

A sane person once told me that kids just need us- their parents. “That is enough”. Somehow, I was so convinced with this thought that it started to exhibit it in my demeanor. And he embraced it with the open arms. Expectations must come after efforts. And expectations must be grounded and real. The purpose needs to be defined to empower the child. The correct way to look at the child is not of some pitiable dependant, and not by the worldly dimensions. The world is big enough and resourceful to give everyone a living. It has no co-ordinates specific for a place called success – it’s our learnt distortion and flawed measuring units of Competition and Comparisons. Faith and purity bring one closer to reality. The child will eventually accomplish as we wanted them to in our fancy dreams.

But they just need a fair chance to exhibit their uniqueness and aptitude. Robbing them of their pure moments, making them a pressure cabin for their flight to phantom wonderland of perfection is sin. Let’s de-compress and de-condition ourselves first. Our vexations follow us all the times. But we project them to the meekest one. It took me a global pandemic to realise the battle my son would fight each day. And then sleep over it to fight the same battle somehow the next day fully aware that he will lose it. I dreamt him to be a winner like me!! Phew!!  “mirror! mirror! On my wall! Tells me I am was never fair at all!” Knowing one’s deficits and trying earnestly to attain the unachievable each day, being kind and respectful to others even in adversities- he is endowed with most he needs to live his life like a dignified, righteous, brave human being.

I wish he passes it ahead as his legacy. Virtues are taught to everyone. Eventually practicality is a purer virtue but sadly, its gobbling up ethics in today’s world. But my child is tendering himself unconditionally to me. He is offering me the world of intense purity , passion and compassion.  I intend to appreciate beauty his way because my microscope had lacked the right lenses. That love is not just a healer, love is the only way of life. I am not aiming enlightenment. Just attempting to emulate the wisdom of the purest divine being in my life. We all often ignore them. “A person’s a person no matter how small”. Though it is almost unrealisable.

This year has been really horrific. Obnoxious amount of sadness, sickness and death. Nature forced us to confront ourselves in a lot many ways. I too faced what a dual and ignorant personality I have been. But hope prevails. The waves of faith keep crashing the beach. I am hopeful of some soul-healing in these choppy waters to try and bring out the better human in me. I need this therapy for myself, it has dawned upon me. What is your take-away?

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DR. VIBHA CHAHAL
A mother first ,once a doctor, now an IAS officer
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