The auditorium was swarmed with people. All were waiting for the award ceremony to begin.
Amma was seated as a special guest in the front. As she glanced around, she was overwhelmed to see the response from the crowd who’s eager to cheer for the achievement of MEERA.
While everyone was eagerly waiting for Meera to make her presence on stage, Amma reminisced the time it all started.
Twenty Years Earlier
The tumult outside the chawl increased tenfold as the lady inside continue to wail. The labor pain was intense and the midwives were also trying their best to calm the poor soul but at the same time asking to push with all her might, unfortunately to no avail. The baby was stubborn enough to set her foot in the world and already giving her mother a hard time. Even after several hours of rigorous pushing by the exhausted mother, the baby showed no sign of her presence, and the crowd outside too had dulcified. The only people left now were papa to be and grandma to be, when one of the midwives came out and became the bearer of bad news.
The baby’s head is stuck. We are afraid we can only save the child now who may not be like other children as there might be injury in her head.
The words from midwife were like a thousand knives stabbing at once. Papa to be was now in no mood to embrace fatherhood and left the place hapless.
And then she was born. The moment she opened her glistening eyes, her mother closed hers without even seeing her daughter at least for one time.
The next morning wasn’t about happy waves and brought a sad storm. The mere presence of that tiny being lying next to her mother’s lifeless body was abhorrent to everyone. Her father had already left her to fate. That was when her grandmother came to her rescue and held her with her fragile hands.
Meera! She named her as she held her granddaughter close to her heart.
She is hexed, said one of the neighbor
Yes, she is not even like other normal children.
How can a child not even cry when born?
Yes she even took her mother’s life, said everyone in unison.
But all accusations fell deaf on grandma’s ears.
Days passed and Meera continue to grow pretty and naive. But as predicted, she was not processing surroundings as a child of her age would. Though she was growing well physically, and nothing abnormal seemed with her mental state too but something was amiss.
Namaste Amma, how is Meera doing? You see, my granddaughter who is few months younger than her has started talking.
Amma aka Meera’s grandmother was now used to people’s sarcasm now.
Not yet but soon she will too. But do you know my Meera had starting walking pretty early, said Amma with pride.
Meera continue to grow under the shade of her Amma’s love which protected her against all odds. But Amma too had started to worry about Meera’s condition now. Her fragile body was day by day enervating taking care of her. But she didn’t lose hope.
And then one day something unthinkable happened.
A-m-m-a, this was the first time Meera spoke. Her Amma was ecstatic and appalled at the same time.
Amma, like she’d won a lottery, preconized in the entire neighborhood.
My Meera spoke for the first time in seven years. See I told you that the she’s extraordinary!
This one act of Meera filled Amma with new hope and she became all the more motivated to make her successful.
Amma, Meera is suffering from Autism. While it is at minor level, I am afraid that it might grow with age. Though it’s a good sign that she recognized you and even spoke, but symptoms may increase and the hard part is, this condition may be reduced but cannot be cured , Amma got to hear from a doctor who after studying Meera’s case thoroughly gave the definition to Meera’s till now unknown condition.
While Amma could neither afford nor found any special trainer for Meera, she tried to become one.
She would teach her basic education, understood her behavioral changes, support her in every way and never gave up.
Her assay did not go unnoticed. Even the people who once disdained Meera were now in awe of her demeanor and wanted best for her. They even starting helping Amma in bringing her up. With everyone’s efforts Meera started to speak short words and crisp sentences and did the basic studying too.
The resounding applause brought Amma back from her reverie. She was beaming with pride to see her struggle live on stage being appreciated by almost everyone. The spotlights, cameras including the people were all focused have only one center of attraction, Meera. Today Meera was awarded for writing a book, which she proudly titled as ‘Life: From a bowl of Poison to Nectar’ which focused on her and her Amma’s life struggles and shedding light on less talked topic: Autism.
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