I was very intelligent at studies used to get 90% or above and very creative, such as writing, reading, drawing, knitting and doing embroidery.
I had two friends they both were siblings i.e. Emu (brother) and Saba (sister). Saba was two years younger than me and Emu a year younger than Saba.
Emu was very active at sports and naughty, but Saba was an atypical (retarded). When you will meet her, you will see a bratz doll with curly, dusky skin colour and who looks normal. The problem was her learning ability and behaviour; she was in a 2nd standard at least three classes behind the kids of her age and doesn’t understand a thing always getting zero in every subject except in drawing. The one thing which she was obsessed with was drawing Indian national flag.
The only reason she got an admission in school was that her father was a high rank police officer and she goes to a small local school near to her home. Emu never liked his sister as he used to get embarrassed by her behaviour in public and hated to play with her.
Her behaviour was irregular, such as when she will sit to dine, will keep filling her plate until it’s filled to brim but will never eat the food. Also, when she will tell you something or talk, will keep repeating it and no one can comprehend her because of the high rate of speech. But she was the only daughter of a rich policeman who had got all the best princess dresses better than me.
Their father was my father’s best friend, and they used to live at a walk of around 15 minutes from my place. They lived in an enormous mansion at least an acre of ground around it. They got many servants, four wheelers and police guarding their premises.
There were no houses nearby, so no kids of their age and almost no friends except for schoolmates. I was the only kid of their age, who used to visit them almost daily, stayed with them over weekends and was part of all celebrations. They both were my best friends and when I will visit them, we all three played together.
Saba was very stubborn and was uncontrollable and will not listen to anyone, as I was her best friend; whenever her family had to stop her from doing anything. Her parents and Emu will blackmail her by saying, we will tell it to Sonu Bazi and she will never talk to you. At which she will stop doing whatever she is doing, plead them not to tell me as I will break up my friendship with her and will apologize.
It’s still fresh in my memory that it was Saba’s birthday, and we were getting ready for her evening birthday party and her dress was like a princess’s dress from a fairy tale, it was red velvet knee-length skirt with a cream colour satin shirt. The moment I saw it, I fell in love with it. I always used to share her dresses, and she always allowed me to wear it; our parents were Ok about it. But that day when I ask her, Can I try it first? Then we will get ready for the party. She denied and said, “NO! I will not let you wear it”, which was Ok with me as it was her property.
When we got ready, we went out and started playing with other kids; they were the kids of my uncle’s colleagues, whom my aunt has invited over for dinner. It was sunset when my aunt came out and said it’s time for cake cutting ceremony and she asked Saba, where are your friends; didn’t you invite them?
Excitedly, she answered that she had invited them all in school recess and they might arrive in sometime. My aunt left, when it got dark; she came out again and asked the same question, after which she asked Saba, Do you know where your friends live?. Saba said, YES! They live near to school. On which her mother asked a policeman to take us to Saba’s friend’s house to bring them home for her birthday party.
Me, Emu and Saba, we all three went to her friends’ house and I remember; it was a narrow lane with small houses on both sides. When a policeman knocked on every door, people came out of houses and he started asking Saba, which one is your friends’ house. Along with adults came out kids, it froze adults to death on seeing a policeman knocking on their doors. Then policeman explained to them he is here with his boss’s daughter to invite her friends to attend her birthday party.
Everyone relaxed and then those kids. They started mocking at Saba and sang in unison as a chorus: Sabba, Dabba (an empty box). My dear friend Saba was laughing with them, but adults were quiet and failed to comprehend the scene in front of them as they didn’t know about mental illness of Saba.
Emu, who was standing in a corner behind us, I could feel his embarrassment from far away. After a while, when no one joined us; we left that street and came back home. Me thinking all the time way back that I always thought she is so lucky to have all those dresses which my parents can’t afford. I was so wrong about it and realised that I’m more blessed than her. Also, that day I realized that why she values my friendship so much. It’s because, as I always treated her well and equally value to me.
But from that day onwards I became more concerned and caring towards.
This journey of mine doesn’t end here. After this, I always tried to socialize with mentally challenged children. In year 2003, I was at home preparing for CSIR NET exam; we had a neighbour who is our distant relative. They have four kids, mentally challenged daughter, she was living in another town with her paternal aunt. But her son got married and because of the newly wed bride, she sent her back to her parents’ place. I always about her but never met her; thus, I asked my mother to invite her over to our place for an evening tea and my mother send a message to their home. She came with her younger sister and I talked to her about her hobbies. She told me she doesn’t like to do anything and sleeps all day. But once in a while she offers prayers to God.
I told her it’s so very good and it will thrill God with her. Instead of doing one Namaaz; she should try to offer prayers to God all five times. She listened to me attentively; I told her she should pray to God to improve her health as she used to have attacks. I prepared tea with snacks and we chatted about her life with her aunt and her kids. She told me she doesn’t enjoy staying with her family and wants to go back, but her family says that now she has to stay here only. I suggested her to come and visit and we both can sit and talk, we can be friends. She really liked the idea, agreed to do the same. Also, she asked me about my studies and plans; I answered all her questions and then she said she can’t study.
I felt sad for her; I thought she has a desire to study, but can’t fulfil. Then, after a while, I suggested to her that her younger sister is teaching children, so she can also take lessons from her. Her younger sister agreed to it when they were leaving; I took her sister in a corner and explained to her she is a special needs kid. As a result, of which she needs to be very patience while teaching her; maybe she will not progress at all. But she should teach her daily irrespective of it as by doing so she will feel good, get busy and enjoy staying with her family.
After that I got admission in the research course and left my hometown and never had time to meet her again. But whenever she met my mother every time she asked about me. Also, her parents say that quiet frequently she talked about me and says she misses talking to me as I talked to her nicely and treated her well. Just a tea cup and half an hour of my time, I gave someone a life-changing experience which she cherish even today.
I think we all can do something about such people around us by being nice and giving care and time to these people