Wednesday, January 17, 2007

God's very own

Good to be back at my blog.
Look at these pictures. What do you see? Happy children of school performing in a cultural show on stage. So, most probably this is an annual day function of a school. Do you notice any peculiarity. I was a part of this touching and emotionally moving experience.

The happy faces on stage are "God's own very special" children, as the anchor explained in her beautifully worded comments in the programme. These children are deaf and dumb. Mind you they are just children who cannot hear or speak literally. Otherwise, they communicate a lot and sometimes more effectively then us, with supposedly with more developed faculties. The sparkle in their eyes, the team spirit, the enthusiasm, the elation of achievement, their determination is not just infectious but is touching and inspiring.

I had a brief encounter with them in a programme where they presented perfectly coordinated and soulful dances on music that they can't hear and songs that they can't sing. How? One wonders. The trick is their coach, mentor and teacher who stands in front of the stage and with minimal movement of her hands keeps telling them of what is expected of them. The amazing part is that while their eyes are riveted to her hand movements, the expressions on their faces move in tune with the music and song. It was a cathartic experience.

One feels humbled when one meets such inspiring souls. Nothing seems to limit their spirits. They perform to prove that they are better than the normal beings. When I met them their eyes were speaking brightly. First I took help of their teacher to tell them how amazing they were - but soon I did not need him anymore. I could understand their eyes and a bird like chirping sound that they managed to generate. And they seem to understand what I wanted to tell them and was fumbling for words. I felt embarrassed and belittled talking to them.

It was a touching experience for the audience as well; everybody sat spellbound without disturbing the proceedings in any which way. In fact, once the sound system broke down and the sound first blurred and then stopped altogether - the children continued their dancing for a while till their teacher asked them to stop. Not a single soul in the hall moved, laughed or cursed. Everyone waited patiently for the ten minutes that it took to address the problem. By the end of the programme most of them looked overwhelmed. Many came back and told me how touched they were. Look at this picture - what do you think are the audience doing? Well they are clapping (appreciating) - the teacher of these children made us aware that clapping did not mean much to them and so this gesture is what they have devised to let them know that they are amazing. A simple 40 minute show made us feel, get connected and be enlightened in a manner which did not happen ever in (my) life. I felt that I must take some time off from my cosy life and face such moments regularly. Probably that will help me keep my feet on firmly on the ground always.

This note will be incomplete if I do not mention the two teachers (bless them I did not even ask their names) without whom these children would be just any other set of physically challenged, underpriveledged ones. The passion with which they have taught this children and the energy that they put into their small performances, the happiness that they feel when they see these innocent, young, bright and happy faces is worth a standing ovation. Like any other such effort they face financial, logistical constraints - I came to know later that the sound problem happened because the group had brought audio tapes of the music they wanted to play. In these times of ACDs, VCDs and DVDs the arranger found it difficult to arrange for a decent enough audio tape player - but they go on. Many (including me) promised that they will visit the school but will we? I am not to sure. One week after the show and I still feel touched enough write all these words. But have I really tried to take the initiative to visit them? No.

Never mind. After watching this show, I am sure the good work should go on. May be I am too thick skinned. May many like me are - but I am sure there are better human beings in this world and if they are reached this children have someone somewhere to care for them too.

All Photographs by me.