Photo – Courtesy of http://blog.realestate-minato.com/
No other piece of cake in the world would’ve felt so much rejection. It was a beautiful cake, chocolate and white-cream with nice little red cherries on top, the kind little children would crave- for in their dreams. Even as I began to protest, a big chunk was thrust into my hand. When I finished my rant and looked up, there was no one near me. We were celebrating our
annual “meet-the-angels” party at the local disability center, by “we”, I meant our community, my body was not celebrating these things anymore. of late, the only things I could digest and elebrate, were couscous and oats, I had just begun to accept the fact that it would not be such an ideal celebration for everybody else.
A little young boy, must be in his early teens, came and sat next to me, cake in his hand. Olive-green shirt, white trousers and neat, cropped hair, “Fred”, the tag around his neck announced. I had to wait for introductions, because the world didn’t exist for him. He was devouring the cake, with almost a laser-like focus and devotion. With not an inch of cream or crumb to spare, he looked up, first at the plate in my hand and then slowly at me, as if I was a giant liberty statue who had to be looked up for over 20 miles. I smiled and he gave an un-usually long toothy grin.
“Cake”, he pointed to the plate in my hand.
“Yes, but I don’t think I can eat it”, I sighed
“I can help” , I thought his reply came before I finished my sentence. I was taken-aback, first by the abrupt request and then by my lack of response.
“That wont be needed, thank you” . I avoided his eyes. Then he spoke in a slow, halting and deliberate fashion “Dala Lamma says we uh all th brothers th and sisters. We should share”, he looked at me. I burst out laughing.
“Well he is a saint, so its easy for him to say that, we are humans”.
Even as we were honoring kids like him as “special”, someone had taught him karma and lama ! I couldn’t help wondering.
“Dala Lamma says we all brothers and sisters. We should share”
Undeterred, he said the same thing again, this time, a little more earnestly and he kept up his pleading look till he knew I had noticed. Infact if I hadn’t known he had just finished his cake, I would’ve melted for those puppy-looks. It was also easier for him the second time, I think because he had already heard himself speak the same thing once before. He stammered, yes, but he was slow, methodical and determined to finish his sentence. I was impressed.
“well .. what would you do for me in return ?” I teased him. He seemed amused, or was it teary ? I couldn’t clearly tell from his expression.
“you dance ?, I dance ”
He extended his hand, as if it was a waltz. I was comfortably sailing past my 60’s, didn’t even bother hiding my grey, infact I was happy to have them. They seemed like a pleasant reminder of wisdom and age, to others. But I felt shy, and reserved. I had been given a pair of everything, pair of left-legs, pair of right arms, even a pair of left lungs I thought. I was the goofiest in my class, I could even spill gravity, but I felt even more doubtful seeing his wobbly brace-clasped legs. I had personally created disabilities in my dance-partners. How much worse could it be ? I gave him a half-nod. He vanished with my cake.
An hour of familiar pleasant-talk later, he promptly came and offered the same waltz-like hand, corky with strong fingers. I could hear the faint sounds of the stereo-system getting set-up. His eyebrows stitched into a tight knot, he was as focussed in the dance, as he was on the cake, no talk or mumble, no start or stop, no “getting-comfortable”. But I has to admit, he was good, slow, methodical and rhythmic, the music matched his behavior very well. I enjoyed it, the air, the movements, the gentle smiles and waves of the crowds, everything. It was a refreshing assurance from my own body, that I was down and out, after all.
“Thank you” I held Fred’s hand at the end of the dance.
“Judy like dance ?”
I nodded, with a half breath.
“Good”, he smiled, same toothy wide smile. “I liked your cake, ith was th th more tasty an my cake”. I was amazed by his mind, unlike his speech, I could see that his thoughts were sharp and instantaneous.
The evening was filled with courtesy, politeness, overflowing with kindness and affection. As I recall that evening, I couldnt help feeling “There are many ways to be ignorant, but only one way to truly know”