Words And Meanings : By Bhuvaneswari Ramkumar
“But you have to quit, this is getting insane”, I complained to my mom. After two decades of being a school-teacher, she had risen through the ranks to become the principal of well-reputed school, a reputation she helped build brick by brick. She still wanted to continue. It became a compulsive habit for her, taking a toll on her health, a sore-knee, some back-pain, health-issues were steadily rising like inflation. Ours was an overtly vocal family. Everyone worried about every one else. “There is too much opinion in this house” my father quietly quipped from the corner.
Finally we managed to cajole, coax and threaten her to resign and I actually felt guilty. Apart from leaving a totally empty nest, we managed to make her sit at home and lament with the walls and wail with the echoes. It was out of sheer guilt that I suggested to her, that for a few hours everyday, she could volunteer at the disabled children’s school around our street corner. “Did she hear me at all? A dynamic, ambitious school principal like her, what was she going to do, would she fit into this place ? ” I wondered out loud to my sibling that day.
That evening had an ominous grey brooding to it, testily I called her up, “So how was your day ? how is your new school ?” She wouldn’t say much, I was curious to know. So I probed, I prodded, she was reluctant, pensively reflective and then when she spoke, it felt like a gentle wave lapping at the shores of my heart : ” You know, for years, I’ve handled children, of all ages, of all types, some good, some bad, they’ve whined, complained, why some have even run-away from their homes and schools. But here in this school, these children, quietly play, sing and dance around. Like an unfailing rainbow in the horizon, through out the entire day, these angels had the most beautiful, innocent smile on their faces, a smile that shone in their eyes. One of the kids came behind me and patted my back, my eyes welled up in tears and I realized why. This was the first child that had treated me like a human being and not as a principal. I wonder who is it that we really call ‘disabled’ ?”