The ink hadn’t dried up after writing the previous post on the strange crossroads of death, when the news came in about Anita. Her sister had passed away. Everyone seems to be busy dying. St. Peter must be working overtime these days.
Anita is a person whom I didn’t know much about from close quarters. On the contrary I learnt to admire her from a distance. She was hearing and speech challenged from birth. I met her during our annual youth conference. In the midst of a group of ‘perfect’ people she stood out. She had to make what is being said by reading lips. The guys were a bit reluctant to go out and speak with her. But the lady folks were quite quick in befriending her. I think our lives have become so cocooned that we rarely come in touch with an ‘odd’ person.
She turned out to be a vivacious person with all the trappings of an adolescent. On the final day she expressed her sadness that no boys did come to speak to her! We guys bend our heads in shame! Well it was not that difficult to communicate with her. She made some legible voice and read the lips well. There was even a joke going around, that she asked for a cellphone as a gift.
I was quite intrigued when I came to know more about her. She had an elder sister (who was older than me). She was an incapable person- she couldn’t get up, lied down all day, made some gurgling sound. I am sensitive to the R word. So I refrain from using that. May be her parents wanted a normal child after the first one. But Anita too didn’t turn out ‘perfect’.
Last day I got the news that the sister died. We went to her home. Of course, we couldn’t console Anita so just nodded. I do not know how attached she was to her elder sister. They never would have talked to each other. They never laughed, shared pains or cried together. What would be the thread that held them together if there was one?
A curious incident happened during the funeral. An old man got up to pay respects and to speak a few words. He ended up describing the condensed version of autobiography until the priest requested him to conclude. He apologized saying, ‘I do not know much about her’ .
I have written about this earlier. I am not a pro-choice activist. Neither will I blindly judge against people who abort. But I salute the courage of people who dare to consider an invalid as human and give him/her a decent life.
I looked at the mother. 27 years is a long time, a very long time to care for a person without confining her to an institution. Did I see a tinge of relief in her tears?!