I was in my room sitting on my bed with my laptop, my eyes fixated on the screen. We are not used to having guests at our place, it’s usually just relatives. On this day in particular mom was expecting some guests, so I preferred to have the room’s door shut. 

I was on a call when suddenly someone opened my door without knocking. I saw a boy, tall and stout, wearing a blue kurta. Seeing me he paused for a few seconds without uttering a word. I half smiled at him, while I was annoyed by the interruption. And then he shut the door and went. I carried on with my work.

My thoughts : “How can someone just open the door like that without knocking! Wasn’t he taught manners ?!” 

Now these thoughts were too far behind in my mind and I usually don’t pay attention to these. In a bit, the same boy opens my door again and peeps inside to take a look at my room. This time, I was a little more annoyed. But because I was on a call I couldn’t tell him to shut the door behind him, I instead gestured him to do so. Not sure if he understood I was annoyed, he promptly left.

And then in a while my mom came in and asked me “Are you on a call?” And I nodded. I understood from the conversations I could hear that they were possibly about to leave and mom came looking for me so I could just say goodbye. In a couple of minutes, I got up and went outside to say goodbye. 

This boy was sitting there, he wore a big smile when he spoke to me by himself. “Hello didi, how are you?  My name is Sridhar.” He was too loud for a school going kid, I thought to myself. “Hi Sridhar, I am good, thank you. How are you?”

Ignoring my question he said “Didi I am 13 years old.” He seemed too ecstatic and excited while he spoke so I assumed he’s a current generation kid, who are rich and spoilt and almost live in their own worlds.

I then went ahead to ask him how his Christmas was. “I have annual leaves, so I went to Matheran with just my mummy. We had sooo much fun,” he replied. “That’s nice,” I almost muttered.  

He then got up and came and stood next to me, touching his shoulder to mine and exclaimed, “Didi, I am 13 years old!” He gestures as to show how tall he was, compared to me, and he seemed super happy and excited about it. I smiled too. 

A bit later he was about to click my picture while I was standing there, then he asked me if he can click my pictures. Then he modified to ask if he could take a selfie with me. I gave in. A couple of good shots he took and then he approached my mom. She politely refused.

A small conversation later, they got up to leave. He said goodbye, with the same excitement as he had right from the start. I said a goodbye. 

Then his grandmother came to me and told me “He’s a special child. I apologise if his behaviour offended you”. “Not at all Aunty, I couldn’t realise that at all.” I said almost instantly shutting down the feeling of guilt that rose inside me.

I came back to my room wondering was that child really specially abled? Why couldn’t I see it? I had so many things to learn from this 13 year old who I judged too quickly. He seemed to me the happiest person, he wasn’t sitting crying about why he’s differently abled. He’s living his life to the fullest, not restricting himself or criticising himself. I suddenly felt too bad. But these things I could learn from him, I am certainly going to share with the grown up version of him. 🙂

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Aparna Seshadri

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