It is our world – A visit to their world, a world away from ours.
As I visited Adhar, in Igatpuri, the home for the Mentally challenged, I was wonderstruck.
We went with an acquaintance of mine, Prabha, who was undergoing a turmoil in her life, as she was the lone caretaker of two disabled adult children, and with not many resources.
One of the children, Mihir, was mentally challenged as well as blind, deaf and dumb.
So, we made our way to Adhar, from Mumbai, after a lot of research and were accompanied by another friend, Rima, whose offspring was also a resident of Adhar.
During the 4 hour drive to Adhar, we were updated by Rima, about the association, and the facilities they provided for, as well as their commitment towards the children and their families.
We reached Adhar at 12 noon approx.
As we were taken around, by Mr and Mrs Fadnis, and shown the wards and the dining area, as well as the other departments of the institute, a feeling of gratitude possessed me.
The place was decently maintained, and all the workers and social workers, performed tasks as per their capacity.
The dormitories were filled with adults who were retarted, ranging from mild to severe.
The ones with mild retardation were assisting the ones who were severely affected, by leading the way, and , I saw one of them take the other to the dining area to be fed.
As I peeped into the wards, I could see a hustle bustle of activity on.
It just seemed like a whole new world apart from ours, where all these children as well as adults could live life at their own terms, in their own space, without feeling incapacitated in any way.
The ones with mild retardation , seemed to me breathing with a sigh of relief.
They did not have to prove a point to anyone.
They were accepted here as they were.
They were out of the madness of a rat race of human beings defining themselves as normal and super capable supermen, whose only aim in life was to run after something.
If you ran in our world, and caught up with either, money or power, or fame, then yes you were someone to reckon with.
Acclaim, name fame, money power we have it all in our world.
What we do not have here is the luxury of being. Being true to yourself, the luxury of knowing who we are, the luxury of timelessness, of love in its true essence, of fearless ness which comes only when desires are done away with.
I just felt that at Adhar these adults were breathing and sleeping soundly. There were some people with severe retardation, and were only just sleeping away, lost in a world of their own, but yes somewhere deep down content with the fact that their needs were provided for.
Thus bathed, cleaned and fed they were comfortable and content.
At this stage it just suddenly dawned on me that are these adults who are not normal and retarded mad, or are we the ones who are considered sane, actually mad?
Okay so now the next bold step, Prabha had to take, was to leave her child whom she had fended for over 30 years , here.
It did not seem an easy decision for Prabha.
Earlier she had her husband by her side, and both of them used to just about manage looking after Mihir.
After she lost her husband, she knew that it was impossible to look after Mihir’s needs single handed, as well as handle the pressures of daily life.
Also their also loomed the dreaded question, most people in this situation confront “What after me”?
So after taking the practical decision of leaving Mihir behind, and after a bout of emotional good byes, we left Adhar, not before thanking Mr and Mrs Fadnis and the entire staff for their, dedication and hard work .
Mrs Fadnis had a very beautiful message for Prabha.
She told her, that if you are leaving Mihir behind, then do so with utmost conviction and trust, and do not feel guilty for this.
As we have designed Adhar to help dedicated parents, who have given up most of their life, in serving and looking after these children, move on , so please move on and give life a meaning , contributing and furthering your growth, thus accomplishing your purpose in life.
It was so beautiful to have met such beautiful people, and as Mr Fadnis bade us good bye, he told us to throw away all worries as we go out of the gates of this wonderful institution Adhar.
It did not end just here for Prabha.
She was accustomed to looking after her child, so was very lonely for a few days, and she kept wondering how he was?
So the next time she visited him, she was not very pleased with his overall well-being, and got him home for a few days.
She took him back again, and after proper instructions of medicines and hygiene, she departed.
The other day when she visited him, she had taken his favourite dishes of gajjar halwa and Pao bhaji.
Mihir welcomed her, and sat with her, excitedly, enjoying her company, eating his favourite dishes.
However, after a while he pushed her away, with his hand, meaning to tell her now go.
I am happy in my world and so you be happy in yours was his message.
So beautiful and profound.
It is indeed a message for all of us.
As you come into this world, there is a place for you, and when you find the right place, life can be very simple.It is only when we place ourselves in wrong situations and places do we complicate an otherwise simple life.
Kudos and cheers to institutions like Adhar who have not only given a place to these children, making them belong there, but also to parents whose lives have just been entangled from a tangled mess they never could get free from.