“I want to tell you something before we meet up”, I said to the mother of the prospective groom for my daughter. The groom had liked my daughter immensely after meeting her through a matrimonial portal.
“No problem. Please tell me” the mother said.
“She had an older sister who was born blind and died of cancer at the age of nine”.
“OK.OK. Thank you” the lady said, sounding petrified.
Of course, she never called back. I cannot blame her.
The mental myopia of Society makes it labelling and stigmatizing entity that, if given importance, creates demons in your mind.
Today my first daughter Yogita would have turned 31 had she been alive. She was born on the 18th of June 1989.
I call her the angel in my life because she taught me the three biggest lessons in my life: society,blind faith and all the things we take for granted.
The contrast between Yogita’s milestones and other children of her age was understandably devastating. It was heart-wrenching for me to see healthy children months younger than her achieving milestones that Yogita was not able to achieve even by the age of 10 months. Being young and immature, it made me feel incredibly inadequate whenever I looked at other children.
At a poolside (Yogita loved water) restaurant, a mother pulled away her toddler when Yogita went blindly and brushed against the child.
I had two choices. Either fake being normal and interact with Society unaffected and suffer silently within or avoid Society altogether. To be part of the Society, I had to put that bravado but struggle within. I decided to accept my feelings, face the pain that I was suffering by myself instead of trying to fit into the Society.
I abstained from Society. I became a recluse.
I could not rest until I was sure that Yogita could see one day. I was still in the denial stage of our grieving process. I went to many soothsayers, astrologists, palmists, and clairvoyants in the hope that one of them would show me the way to make Yogita see.
Ganesh Bhat was one such. He looked every inch a Clairvoyant when I went to meet him.
“You are here about your child. It is about her eyes” he said. I was stunned. They have their ways.
He specialized in palm leaf reading. The large Sandalwood Tilak on his face matched beautifully with his fair complexion. The large Talisman with the silver chain around his neck and his pure silk Jubba gave him a mystical appearance. I sensed a strange but comfortable feeling inside of me that he had answers to my questions about Yogita.
There I sat in front of him, he with the large bundle of palm leaf scripts tied together in front of him.
“You have inadvertently killed a baby snake in your past life, and you have what is called SarpaDosha. You have to absolve yourself from the curse by carrying out three-day Sarpa Samskara ritual at Kukke Subramanya” he declared.
I carried out the ‘Sarpa Samskara’ ritual at Kukke Subramanya. We stayed there for three days and carried out the whole ceremony with a devotion that was filled with fear of making mistakes and falling into the wrath of Gods.
On the last day after the completion of the ritual, I suddenly realized that there was something repulsive about the notion of a Supreme force that would heal Yogita if I did the right ceremony. What kind of God deprives an innocent newborn of an organ and then changes His mind after people around that child appease Him or Her? As if He deliberately made her handicapped with a plan to make it better only if her father did the right prayer or conducted the proper ritual. That Yogita would be OK only if I surrendered and told Him how great He is.
Fear of God and seeking his pardon for a sin that I thought I had committed made me feel suddenly like a medieval idiot. I was a blind follower of dogmas irrationally.
I gave up on blind faith.
After my parental experiences with Society’s insensitivity, I got curious about how other parents of children with special needs were coping. I was sure that I was the only one to whom the greatest injustice had been done in the entire universe.
Then I went and met the president of the then national association of the blind, Mrs.Atma Ram Rao and decided to network and interact with other parents of blind kids. She called a few days after and asked me to meet the family of Kannan, an IAS officer who had been transferred to Mysore as the Commissioner of a state government board.
Kannan lived in a government guest house that was located amidst a sprawling garden. Kannan was a handsome man in his early forties, and his wife was equally elegant and pretty. We sat down on their sofa and exchanged our pleasantries.
Yogita was calm and peaceful when Mrs Kannan took her in her arms. She called out to her two sons; “Ganesh, Vikram, come here, please. There is someone to see you”.
We heard tapping sounds as two lovely, fair, young and handsome boys in their late teens came out with faces bent down. They both came tapping their sticks.
Both were completely blind.
I hid my shock and so did Mamatha as we both said simultaneously “hello boys”.
“Hello, uncle”, they said. Mrs Kannan took Yogita to them, and both the boys stroked her hair. Yogita was calm and appeared happy
“My kids are excellent singers”, said Kannan.
“Why don’t you sing them a song?” said Mrs Kannan turning towards her kids.
We sat dumbfounded and listened to the two brothers sing exceptionally well in chorus. Kannan and his wife appeared so fulfilled and happy.
Yogita, I know that you are reading this in a form that minds cannot perceive.
Thank you. Happy Birthday.