“I was devastated the day a doctor called Aarti ‘mentally retarded’ and ‘a kid that would be of no use’. Now, the entire world might write off a child with Down syndrome as a burden but to any mother, her child is a gift regardless of the circumstances, right?
So after having experienced this exactly a month post her birth, my husband and I became the typical ‘anxious’ parent-duo running from one doctor to another in a desperate attempt to give Aarti a normal life like everyone else. And especially since the whole idea of ‘special children’ was very new to us, we initially hoped that the medical world could pull off a miracle. Eventually, however, with the reality panning out completely against our expectations, we knew we had to come to terms with the judgement that pooled in from all corners- friends, teachers and occasionally, even our family viewing Aarti like an alien. In fact, fellow parents from her kindergarten batch even went to the extent of asking their kid to stop mingling with her and play only with the other well-performing kids.
Nevertheless, per the saying ‘when one door closes, another opens’, I saw Aarti gradually finding her feet when we introduced her to sports. Swimming specifically, worked for her with the perseverance of a reputed coach who was determined to make her excel in the sport. When others had given up stating her disability, his involvement made sure to take Aarti to national level tournaments and even bag multiple medals on the International stage as a Special Olympics participant.
Seeing her victories, I learnt that what matters at the end is just one’s mindset to lead a happy life. That perspective further aided my transformation into a special education and sports tutor! And today, I feel a sense of purpose when I interact with many many children suffering from similar conditions, trying to mould them into independent young adults who are perfectly capable of living a positive life.
Now, as for Aarti, she’s become a beautiful 32 year old woman, staying with me and taking life as it flows. In the days to come, all that I wish for, is to be able to live with her until her last day and give all the joys of a fulfilling life.”