105th recipient of help ( a wheelchair) : “Even if you have a shortcoming, you have a value. And dignity. Assert it.”
‘Tigress’ Akankshah Sonawane. (12)
Akanksha is a special child.
She lives in Chembur with five sisters and her parents. Her mother works as a house maid, and her father works with the BMC as a street sweeper.
Three months after she was born, her parents noticed Akankshah is not as ‘active’ as children normally are at her age. Her mother had two ‘normal’ daughters before her, so she understood that something in their third child is amiss.
Thereafter began many journeys to various destinations. Her parents walked and rode many paths over many miles with this special child. Carrying her closest to their chest on these travels, closer than they had carried their two earlier children.
With baby Akankshah held firmly in their arms, they visited doctors, hospitals, fakirs, Pir Babas, natural springs, various places of worships, various faiths of medicine, tirelessly, faithfully, with unrelenting hope, with a persistent and consistent prayer on their lips, hope as bright as the sun in their chest, faith as solid as diamonds that somebody someplace sometime will have a cure for their daughter. None arrived.
After many years of diagnosis, at various hospitals in Mumbai, they discovered their daughter certainly has cerebral palsy (CP). A condition, from birth, when the brain does not receive adequate oxygen. The result – Akankshah cannot speak. Akanksha cannot walk. She never has. That is why they needed a wheelchair, as she is now 12 and getting too heavy for her parents to carry even to school or for her physiotherapy sessions a few kms away.
One thing that fascinated me about Akankshah. She is just like many of us! – Akankshah loves NEW clothes!
When she gets upset for any reason, or if they sense she is sad about something, they make her wear new clothes, and then she smiles like a thousand valleys of sunflowers!
Such is her fondness for new clothes, that she asks her parents to make her wear new clothes nearly daily. Now, how do they do that? How can this lower middle class family afford to do that? But they dote on her. So, they found a way!
They present her old clothes to her mixed with new ones, because as long as there is something new in her attire Akankshah is okay wearing even her older clothes.
Necessity is indeed the mother of invention, is once again proven, this time by these humble parents.
When her siblings run all over the place, naturally, even little Akankshah wants to give chase. Maybe run even faster. Like I had always wanted to and I did when I was her age. So we know that Akankshah must desire this too. And this little tigress tries. She tries to get up and run, even now. Even after 12 years of failing at it, she tries!!!
I HAVE NOT SEEN SUCH DETERMINATION IN SOME MOST ABLE PEOPLE I KNOW! Not even in myself most times. In retrospect, I give up on some things quite easily.
One more thing about this little tigress. Hey, someone ought to put a board near her that points straight to her and cautions: “Do not dare tease this tigress. Do not dare be mean to her.”
Because, when someone teases her and tries to get away, run away, someone who has been mean to her, Akankshah grabs them by their hand or leg, whatever comes in her feeble grasp in that fraction, and wallops them literally!
(Even though, they say, her grasp and hands are feeble, and her hand trembles even if she has to carry food towards her lips or hold a glass of water to sip even one drop.)
Hahahahahahhaaaa Serves them right!, I thought laughing on all those poor kids who must have received little Akankshah’s ‘treatment’ and justice.
See how even a special and feeble child knows how to get ‘even’, and won’t let anyone get away with their meanness.
Maybe, I pondered, there is a lesson in here for us, from little special Akankshah, – it does not matter what be your shortcoming/s, you have a value, and dignity, and only you can assert it. Sometimes you should not let people get away with something you perceive you do not deserve, something you do not deserve to be subjected to, even if it be ‘just a joke’. Because even ‘just a joke’ from someone has sometimes scarred each one of us.
Akankshah’s father said to me while explaining her CP condition, ‘….doctors say that blood does not reach her brain as much or as normally as it does for others like us….’
Medically speaking, I do not know what he meant by that. However, look at how much reaches her – Akankshah understands when if someone is being mean to her. She understands if someone is being funny, trying to make her laugh. She understands colors, as she loves some colors more than others. She comprehends her parent’s tears. She senses their efforts to please her with something sweet to eat or a new dress to wear. She understands what a smile means. Because, Akanksha reacts to all of these, each of them, even if we think she is limited in an unlimited way.
Akankshah loves to watch TV! At the dot of seven in the evening she knocks on the furniture and points to the TV set. She dances to the music that plays on various channels. She likes to go to places where music plays, because she swings her upper body and arms to the beat. Her siblings often join her on her private gigs!
Akankshah’s love for music and dance remained floating in me long after her father had left, long after the hot noon sun had become colder. I remembered I had not heard music since a couple of weeks, ever since I had returned from a long outdoor trip of seven days. Somehow, I had just lost touch with music ever since then.
That night, after I returned home from my evening walk, and after I had my shower, and just before I had my dinner, I blasted one of my favorite underground deephouse tracks. Music that I had been addicted to over a few months.
I did not rock to the music like Akanksha does, I doubt I can match a special child’s innocence, energy and enthusiasm, but I was glad it is she who had unintentionally reminded me to return to something I have always loved doing. Thank you Akankshah. Inspiration, like music, lies everywhere, only if you are open to hearing her notes everywhere. Even when they play during silence.
This wheelchair has been donated to Nyrika by Siddhi Sanghvi, who dedicates her humble gesture to her darling Nyrika Handa. :)))
My friend Siddh had told me many months ago, to try and find someone who needs a wheelchair, because she wanted to gift something special to someone special on her darling Nyrika’s approaching birthday.
Well, though many sunsets turned to dawns since then, eventually I did find someone as special as Akankshah; someone very special for her doting loving parents. Someone who even inspired me to return to my music after a very long gap, and had I not then the gap could have got longer. Which, in my humble opinion, makes Siddhi’s gift for Nyrika even more endearing for me.
(Belated) Happy Birthday dear Nyrika. 🙂
And thank you Dr Indu (Murali Krishnan) for helping us locate inspiring Akankshah. 🙂