Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Perceptions ...

It was during a train journey that I met that family. I was travelling back from Delhi to my native and the only thought when I boarded the train early in the morning, with my kids in tow, was to settle into the berths and catch up on the sleep. So, it was with a certain degree of irritation that I looked at the girl and her mother who had already taken up the seat near the window, which was 'ours'. The mother asked if my son could sleep in the middle berth as they would like to have the lower berth. I agreed, as it was early in the morning, and as I was a person who loved quiet mornings, I decided to let it be. Soon, I arranged the berths and put the kids to sleep and happily got lost in the rhythm of the train and slept fitfully, never giving second thoughts to the family again...

Some time later, as I woke up into the bright sunshine, my perspective also brightened - so I believe on hindsight. First thing I noticed was the same family of three - a daughter and her parents. It is my experience that co-travellers usually tend to be more friendly and accommodating during train journeys, especially during long journeys. So, I forgot all about my irritation of the morning (which I blamed on the lack of proper sleep and rest during the past few days of travelling) and smiled at them. I got a rather reserved smile back- perhaps I put them on guard by being grumpy in the morning!!!

Anyways, I had a few urgent mails to cater to and a couple of other pending works to do. I finished them off and as the time for breakfast approached, we warmed up to each other a little bit more. Not a person who like to intrude in others' life I inquired only about some basic details of them. I learned that they are travelling up to Thiruvananthapuram and that the man is working in Delhi Police. The lady was a house wife and they were travelling with their daughter. It was only then that I gave the girl a detailed look.

At the first glance itself, I felt something is wrong. Unlike the girls of her age, she sat quiet, head down and unenthusiastic. Saliva was drooping out from her mouth and she seemed to be oblivious of it... As I observed her closely, I found that something is wrong. I wanted to know what is wrong with her, but I respected the family's privacy and didn't ask anything more.

Over the breakfast, the mother told me that the child suffers from epileptic attacks. Seems that she was fit and fine till she was five. After that she had a fall and the fits had started subsequently. Now the girl is thirteen and though her body has acquired the growth of a thirteen year old, sadly, her brain has not! Her IQ level is low and she is attending a special school these days. I tried to be as sensitive as I can and didn't want to look over-sympathetic or intruding. (Now I realized why the mother asked for the lower berth)

The girl could not speak properly - her words came out in slur and only her people could understand what she was telling; at times, even they couldn't! She loved music and her mother had got her a music player to play her favourite songs. For once, I didn't feel offended that someone is playing loud (though not too loud) music. During the day, she found me harmless and started smiling at me. I also tried to include her in our conversations and offered a share of sweets when my kids had them. I was happy when she started to accept every food items that I offered her without any inhibitions...

Though they had three tickets, one was in another bogey. They were hopeful that someone will exchange the places, so that the father can get a berth in the same coupe. But, that didn't happen as the others who travelled in the same coupe were a part of group and refused to exchange places. So, at night, the mother had to spread the mattress on the floor and sleep there as the child needed the care of both parents. All night, I was aware that she could barely sleep as the girl kept on poking her for something or the other and even without any reason. The father had sat at the feet of the girl and gave her company till she slept...

The entire journey was passed like this - the parents caring for their girl, even when she was unreasonable... I was moved by the way they cared for the girl, especially the delicate way by which the father handled her. The mother had lost her patience a couple of times, but never the father. He sat near his daughter almost through the night and made sure she was comfortable. He was gentle, loving and caring, which I have not seen in many people. Moreover, I was surprised to see that he even arranged the blanket of my son when it slipped away from him at night!!! I have not seen many such caring individuals in my life...

It got me thinking - I realized that even in the face of adversity we can be good individuals. Now, I will think twice before I get impatient with my kids... When I get angry at their small mistakes, I will try to remember the loving parents from the journey and their everyday trials and tribulations. Then, perhaps, I will realize that love is the most powerful of the emotions and that what the children need from parents is unconditional love... I also realize that there are people who are less privileged than me, but more happier than their situation could demand!!!!

It surely was a special journey - as I reached home, I think I turned a bit more wiser and a bit more understanding than ever. My efforts to perfect the art of unconditional love and patience would also continue... And if I falter in that, all I have to do is bring to my memory the picture of that loving family and then, I am sure, my perception will take a change for the better!!!