“If she had been a little like me, she would have danced and laughed a little more and sang in a voice that’d make people take a bow,” Aranyaka thought after coming home.
She had gone for a dinner at a fine-dine restaurant yesterday, with her husband and friends.
“How long before we can go and eat in?” one of her friends, Samarth enquired.
“Sir, that would be about 20 minutes waiting.”
Aranyaka sat on a couch adjacent to the glass window. Sitting at the left of her was her friend, Enakshi and on her right, her husband, Karthik.
While the four of them waited, a random conversation began.
“What do you call wife’s sister’s husband in Hindi?” Samarth smirked and the four of them, as always laughed like no one was watching.
To that Aranyaka responded and Karthik, her husband said something. To this point, it was a senseless conversation, without a purpose.
Suddenly, a girl sitting next to Karthik on another sofa said, “You haven’t been to a village, it seems.”
The four of them burst out laughing, including Karthik. Enakshi pulled herself a little close to Aranyaka’s ear to mutter why the family sitting next to them was listening and responding to their conversation. And, they both laughed at the thought of it.
This family, until now, was totally non-existent, but now that they had joined the little humour party that the four of these friends were enjoying, it was something peculiar. But, what was odder was the fact that Karthik was continuously talking to them. To Aranyaka, this was stranger since he didn’t talk to random people the way he was doing then. Enakshi too noticed this and told about it to Aranyaka.
Until this point, Aranyaka hadn’t seen that the family next to them had a little girl, who was physically challenged. It instantly hit to Aranyaka that perhaps this was the reason Karthik was inclined to the conversation with them.
Karthik had been a person who found tranquillity in helping people or animals. In their 4 years of marriage, she had, time and again learnt from her husband, the art of compassion. He had a strange affliction towards poor, needy, downtrodden and ill people or animals or even plants and trees. This, Aranyaka had found especially attractive in her husband, although she had never said this to him ever.
The bizarre thing was that Samarth, who, most of the times didn’t like kids, was also being extra nice to this little girl.
Something that started off with a weird encounter had now turned into a light hearted conversation among everyone sitting in the waiting area of the restaurant. Samarth, who has usually been, the most talkative and funny, was as always saying things that were making people laugh hard.
Aranyaka, by this time, was totally focussed on this physically challenged little girl, who looked so happy that it made her feel overwhelmed. Not only that, the little girl’s sister was also a chirpier one and their father looked totally at peace and ease with his life.
From the corner of her eyes, Aranyaka looked at the little girl’s mother, who seemed like a simple lady. She was smiling at the conversations and her girls’ exuberance with these four friends. But, this mother didn’t smile the way others in the family did. It seemed that she was the one reeling under the effects of her daughter’s physical circumstance. There was a tinge of sadness in her smile and her eyes looked tired.
But, out of all of them, the little girl with disability seemed to be the most adorable.
Tired of waiting for a long time, Samarth said, “Is there anyone who has an exam tomorrow? If yes, I will tell the manager here to let us dine and go home early because the kids need to study.”
While Samarth was talking to his friends, once again, the elder sister in that family jumped in. She raised her hand immediately and said, “Me. Me. I have an exam. I need to prepare for my civil services exam.” She was her usual cheerful self and as soon as she said it, she laughed hard.
Her little sister joined the laughing crusade too. “She also has an exam. She has her board exam,” the elder sister referred to this little girl with disability and continued, “She has an exam in special category.”
As soon as she said it, she realized that it shouldn’t have been spoken. Perhaps, it was an unsaid bond of the family.
Clearly offended at her sister’s statement, which she didn’t mean otherwise, the little girl folded her hands against her chest and gave a look to her sister that clearly said, “I hate you.”
The elder sister tried making up immediately and said to the little girl, “You are special. You are our princess.”
The father jumped in the conversation and said, “Okay, now enough,” and the two sisters went back to their accustomed cheerfulness.
Soon, the manager called the father’s name to get a table inside and the father picked up her disabled little girl to carry her inside, as if it felt like the simplest thing in his life to carry his young girl with disability on his shoulders. May be, this father had to carry her like that throughout her life, but he didn’t seem to feel sad or sorry about it, at all.
Aranyaka felt like this was one of the most jovial and happy family she had ever met, despite all odds. The little girl with disability was enjoying her life and it clearly felt like the family had found joy in modest things of life. This “special category” princess had enormously positive aura about her and it reflected on her face and family.
And then, it felt to Aranyaka that perhaps the little girl had a disability, but she had a million more things in life awaiting her!