BONDS AND BARRIERS –Part 1

Mohan looked at the computer screen once again. He wasn’t imagining- it was indeed a friend request from Aradhana. He was relatively new to face book. He was just learning to navigate his way around it. Surprising how she had located him. He thought he had cut his ties with the world long ago

His fingers were on the mouse itching to click the “accept” icon. But something seemed to be holding him back! After  all that had happened over the last three years was he ready to be in touch with her ?  Time they say heals wounds but he was not sure that he was  healed completely. The hurt was too much and on too many fronts.  In fact he was surprised that he had survived all of what had happened! He clicked on the message that she had sent along with her friend request. A very short one – “Hi Mohan. Hope you are doing fine. How is Anand?” He navigated to her profile page – it showed her location to be London, her occupation was still the same “Special educator”. Nothing else to suggest whether she was married or single. No profile picture either – just a small icon  with a smiley on it.  Typical!

He remembered the first time he had met her. Anand was about eight  years old. A child suffering from cerebral palsy, he also had a number of emotional problems. Over the last few months he had become progressively more difficult to handle. The situation at home was not helping either. Sheila had completely abdicated her responsibilities towards her son. She seemed to be staying away from home more and more often travelling whenever she could. Mohan had been trying to manage the situation by using the “work from home” option. But he was beginning to resent the fact that Sheila was not doing her bit. There was a lot of tension made up of  sharp arguments or long silences! It was  therefore not surprising that it was affecting the child.

Her age came as a surprise to him. He had somehow imagined someone older. The fact that this twenty something girl was his son’s new teacher was a little difficult for him  to handle during his first meeting. But as the conversation progressed, he began to realize that this girl knew her stuff! Besides, Anand seemed to be obviously fond of her – responding to her in a way that he never did with him or Sheila!

“Parenting a child with cerebral palsy can be very lonely . The pleasure and the pain are unique and cannot be shared with other parents. But please try to keep your stress about it outside of the interactions you have with him. He senses it and it affects him” was what she had told him after that first meeting. He wished he could tell her exactly how lonely his life was ..

She had  wanted to meet “Anand’s mother” along with him to discuss his progress. How could he tell her that Sheila – his beautiful wife was embarrassed of her own child –that she looked for opportunities to stay away from home. That she was disgusted by the way the child ate or walked or talked.. !!  She seemed to be somehow holding him responsible for Anand’s condition. A woman who had taken beauty for granted and who revelled in it could  just not take the fact that a part of her could be so “ugly”!!

“But he is NOT ugly!” was what Aradhana said angrily when he told her about it. “All these children are beautiful  like others. You just need to be able to see that beauty and recognize it”

He was surprised that a teacher was able to see something that a mother was unable to. But then Aradhana  like his Anand was different. She had an inner beauty and gentleness that only those close to her could perceive.

A wonderful person, she quickly realised that he was probably going through a lot of personal struggle in parenting. She tried to involve him in the school’s parent support group so that he could be part of a community. She sent him articles about children with cerebral palsy and their achievements, called him up every now and then for a chat and sometimes even came home to spend time with him and Anand. They took  Anand for outings to the park and sometimes to the beach. Was it then surprising that Anand should one day draw a picture of a family  with himself, Papa and “Aru Auntie”?

Mohan was aware that both he and his son were becoming very emotionally dependent on Aradhana. He had initially tried to explain it away saying that it was but natural considering the situation. But he realized soon enough that it was not so. He had begun noticing things about a girl nearly ten years his junior in ways  that were beyond the boundaries imposed by professional interaction. He noticed the faint perfume that she wore, the silver jewellery that adorned her – the fact that she looked good in blue. He noticed the way she held her hand over her mouth when she was surprised  and the way she jumped with joy when it rained.

How could he forget that day after Anand’s birthday party when he was dropping her home. It had been raining. She had rolled down the window and was trying to catch the rain drops with her hands.  He had stopped the car on that tree lined avenue leading to her home just so he could watch her. She had turned to look at him when the car had stopped raising her eyebrows in a question. He had continued looking at her.  They sat together in silence for he did not know how long until his mobile went off. Sheila was home and wanted to know when he would be back.

He stated the car and drove silently up to the entrance to  her flat. “I would have invited you upstairs but I think Sheila needs you” she said quietly as she closed the door of the car. He had thought about this line all the way home and many times later attributing different meanings to it- until one day he was really disgusted with himself for the way he was behaving – like some love sick teenager! The question however was whether this was LOVE?  Or was it just a feeling of emotional instability that was taking control over him.. After all, he had been in love and was married to the love of  his life – the very beautiful Sheila! So why these thoughts? All he needed to complicate it at this point was an extra marital relationship with a girl almost a decade younger than him! Yes,  his relationship with his wife was not what it should be but that was no excuse to run into the arms of another woman- hell girl! So what if she was good with Anand and the boy liked her? She was young and deserved somebody better- not the married father of a child with cerebral palsy!

And with that he had tried to close what he thought was a chapter of  weakness in his life..  He hired a driver to take Anand to school and limited his interactions with Aradhana to general group meetings with other facilitators being present. She on her part seemed to sense the barriers that he was building around himself. So she just restricted herself to these professional interactions for the rest of the year. And then one day when he went for the meeting, there were just the physiotherapist, occupational therapist and the neurologist. No sign of her! He wanted to ask what happened to her. But he was just too embarrassed …

( to be continued)

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. KP
    Apr 10, 2012 @ 20:25:33

    Wonderfully captured the conflicting emotions and the growing l fondness for each other with both alive to the limitations.The story is going on predicted lines so far unless you have a surprise ending.Looking forward eagerly to the next part.

    Reply

  2. shomoita
    Apr 10, 2012 @ 20:47:30

    The first words that come out of my mouth reading the first paragraph is, “holy shit”! Is this coincidence or a sign?

    The girl with a crush I told you about, happened to sent “the crush” friend request on Facebook. And he seem to have noticed it (as he has added other people on FB), but haven’t accepted it yet!

    Okay… continuing reading… 😉

    Done! Now that’s a different story than what I was assuming, but the emotional connections are a bit similar.

    Waiting for part 2. My personal favourite ending would be that Aradhana gets a boy of her age and lives her life happily. Some relationships are better in imagination than in reality no matter how connected you feel sometimes! Everything is a good experience, I guess, to introduce one to shades of life. 🙂

    Reply

  3. bhavana
    Apr 10, 2012 @ 21:20:37

    Parenting a child with cerebral palsy can be lonely so true…but for all the mothers there–I have a close friend who has cerebral palsy and today is working on doctorate and he is a super-duper writer!!!!

    Reply

  4. Jack
    Apr 10, 2012 @ 22:11:31

    Meera,

    Very captivating. Looking forward to next part.

    Take care

    Reply

  5. renu
    Apr 11, 2012 @ 09:30:49

    very interesting..waiting for the next part..

    Reply

  6. Meera
    Apr 11, 2012 @ 10:44:08

    @ Bhavana welcome to my blog. I can completely believe what you say about special children. There are immense possibilities.

    @ Jack, Partha, Renu thank you so much for your regular visits and encouraging comments

    @ Shomoita- did not realize that it had similar trends 🙂 but yes I am also struggling with part 2

    Reply

  7. Gayu
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 17:01:12

    Loved the title…loved the way you expressed the confusion, the emotional roller coaster ride…

    Reply

  8. Meera
    Apr 21, 2012 @ 17:35:14

    Thanks Gayu–your comments are certainly a source of encouragement for me

    Reply

  9. anilkurup1959@gmail.com
    Apr 25, 2012 @ 18:31:12

    Hi, This pretty exciting. You have a flair for story telling. Polish it up Will get better for sure. I look forward to the remaining drama.

    Reply

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